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Marcus Becker (Miami, FL USA)

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Bravo Two Zero
Bravo Two Zero
by Andy McNab
Edition: Paperback

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special Forces indeed, 27 Jan 2001
This review is from: Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
Special Forces indeed
A definite page turner. I read it going to work, coming from work, and even at work (when no colleagues were watching). But my job, being a human-computer interaction specialist, is *very* boring compared to the work of the SAS, the British Special Forces. Although I don't think I would want to trade places.
The book cover of my version of Bravo Two Zero was somewhat misleading. It cited the British premier John Major saying it was the SAS who destroyed the SCUD missile sites in the Gulf War, and it cited the American General Norman Schwarzkopf saying that the SAS were the eyes of the allied forces deep in enemy territory. So I expected the book to show a very successful commando mission in Iraq. Other SAS missions were a great success, but in the Bravo Two Zero mission much went wrong...
That doesn't make the operation of the main team of 8 soldiers less heroic, not at all. The gun fights in which the team were heavily outnumbered but in which they still wreaked havoc, the distances they had to walk causing their feet almost to fall of, the hypothermia, hunger and thirst they suffered: all was very impressive. And, probably worst of all, the extensive torturing some had to go through when they were caught, but which they still survived, makes those British soldiers truly admirable men. It much surprised me that, at the same time, they remained very humane during their stay, not killing one single Iraqi civilian even when that might have significantly improved their chances of survival.
What did surprise me however, were the extremely shallow emotional lives these SAS commandos seemed to have. For McNab, the main character of the book, the army clearly had a higher priority than his wife and family, he killed without much afterthought, and he and his buddies almost constantly laughed in the face of death. At the beginning of the book I suspected this behaviour to be partly macho talk, but at the end of the book, especially after the surviving SAS members return to England and had their army psychologist conclude they did not sustain *any* psychological damage, I started to believe that maybe these guys are indeed of a special brand. Anyway, they should receive gratitude for risking their lives.

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