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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just more convincing than McNabb's or Ryan's accounts.
Having served in the Army, I'm suspicious of accounts like this, even one by a Para and SAS veteran like Michael Asher. But to be honest, I was already suspicious of the previous accounts by B20 partol members McNabb and Ryan. So I bought this book, and overall, I'm glad I did, though saddened by some of what Asher seems to have found.

Ex SAS officer General...
Published on 21 July 2008 by R. Hughes

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120 of 137 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truth & Lies
Many people have criticised me for being too gullible as far as the Iraqis are concerned. However, it may be worth pointing out that there is a big difference between the Iraqis I interviewed and Ryan and McNab - I never caught them out in a lie. Ryan and McNab's versions of events were so completely in contrast, that both could not be true. The Iraqis I talked to,...
Published on 17 Oct 2004 by M. Asher


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just more convincing than McNabb's or Ryan's accounts., 21 July 2008
By 
R. Hughes "33 Lima" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
Having served in the Army, I'm suspicious of accounts like this, even one by a Para and SAS veteran like Michael Asher. But to be honest, I was already suspicious of the previous accounts by B20 partol members McNabb and Ryan. So I bought this book, and overall, I'm glad I did, though saddened by some of what Asher seems to have found.

Ex SAS officer General Sir Peter de la Billiere's Gulf War memoir has a concise account of the B20 mission, concentrating on Ryan's tremendous escape. Funny thing is, "DLB" left out the most dramatic single epsode in Ryan's later book, where, now alone, the latter turns at bay and engages and smashes up 2 jeep-loads of pursuers, at night. There's no convincing security, military or other reason why "DLB" would leave this out. It's hard to avoid concluding that Ryan must have made it up later.

This book now leaves it hard to avoid the conclusion that the patrol members' books did a lot more "sexing up" of their already-dramatic stories, for publication.

Main weakness of this book, I think, is that Asher sets out with an agenda - to prove that patrol member Sgt Phillips didn't merit Ryan's unfavourable portrayal - even tho it's a noble agenda, starting with one can cloud judgement. Also I reckon Asher sets just a bit too much stock in differences between the other accounts - complete agreement is not going to happen, even with professionals. Others criticise him, despite Asher being alert to just this point, for being rather too ready to take the word of Arab civilians and policemen in Saddam's Iraq - who basically say that the tales of shootouts are either exaggerated or just invented.

But the point is, that the Arab/Bedouin accounts just ring more true. The more so, because they don't in any way denigrate the performance of the patrol on the ground, or your admiration for their utter tenacity. In fact, at one point, his Bedouin hosts seriously slag off Asher's Iraqi army minder when he puts down the patrol, the Arabs saying they were brave men and good soldiers. Amen to that. Some who doubt the reliability of the Arab witnesses speak of the unliklihood that 3 armed civilians could put the patrol to flight from the original location, but they didn't, the mission had already gone wrong and the patrol executed a pretty textbook bug-out, just as they should have, in the later stages under fire from the 3 Arabs who included 2 very experienced Iran-Iraq war vets. No shame there, just good, solid soldiering, concluding with a successful "break contact". No need to make up a tale of a massive firefight with APCs taken out and vanloads of Iraqi soldiers going down in a hail of gunfire. But it seems likely that's what they did - they made it up. Or McNabb did, and others followed.

Like Napoleon said, the most important quality for a soldier is not courage, it's endurance - a particular form of courage to be sure. The B20 guys were exceptional soldiers and showed true courage, in all its forms, as this book makes clear. Regardless of the fact that some mistakes may have been made, in mission prep or elsewhere. Hard to fault them, later on, for trying to eke out their livlihoods after leaving the service by telling their stories. Especially after their rather better paid former boss, General "DLB", did much the same. It's just rather sad that they seem to have been unable just to tell it like it was, which was heroic enough, and in Ryan's case apparently, selling short the memory of a dead comrade.
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120 of 137 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truth & Lies, 17 Oct 2004
By 
M. Asher "FRSL" (Kenya) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
Many people have criticised me for being too gullible as far as the Iraqis are concerned. However, it may be worth pointing out that there is a big difference between the Iraqis I interviewed and Ryan and McNab - I never caught them out in a lie. Ryan and McNab's versions of events were so completely in contrast, that both could not be true. The Iraqis I talked to, some of them over a long period, and at unguarded moments, were always entirely consistent in their story. They also often told their tales in front of large audiences of families and friends who would have known if they were lying.
Now this does not prove that they were telling the truth. Perhaps they were not. I exercised the same judgement that anyone else would exercise in the circumstances - journalists and police investigators do this all the time. I often gave Ryan and McNab the benefit of the doubt even when I suspected they were not telling the truth. All I can say is, in most cases, I felt that my witnesses were telling the truth to the best of my judgement.
They were certainly more convincing than the accounts of two people who not only disagreed over distances and numbers, but whose accounts were both different from what they said at their official debrief. How could McNab possibly have mistaken two kilometres for twenty?
Unlike those who have criticised me- and unlike Ryan and Mcnab - I know the Bedouin. I speak fluent Arabic and lived for years with a Bedouin tribe. Those people who assume my witnesses were lying 'simply because they were Iraqis' only know the Arabs from the propaganda put forth by the media. This has no connection with the reality.
Despite what they try to tell you in the news reports, the Arabs are not all demons, but real people. The Arab Bedouin, in fact, do not live by the same standards as we do - they live by a strict code of honour. One might ask if the governments who took us into war on a pretext that turned out not to be true could say the same. Just because a point of view is plugged again and again in the media does not make it true - what you are getting is political ideology, not reality. If I had to choose between believing a Bedouin and Mr. Bush I know whom I would choose.
Even if all my witnesses were lying - which I admit is not impossible - the fact remains that McNab and Ryan were not truthful in their accounts. I would remind all those millions who bought these books that they were sold as true accounts of the SAS in action. In any other business there would be a word for that.
Anyone who wishes to prove that the Iraqis I interviewed were making it up is free to investigate the matter for himself. If I am wrong then I will be the first to admit it. But let us not make judgements on spurious racist grounds imposed on us by the media - to do so is to dehumanise others as well as ourselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 15 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
Being a former artic commando and medic trained I know how the cold could inflict on a humans physical and mental condition. Besides I very well know how far 20k is and I actually have made that with a 80kg Bergen…. However “some” of the “fantastic” things Mc Nabb and Ryan are saying and claiming in their books does not add up And this was a feeling that I got from the start when reading their books. I am glad to learn that not all believes in their, what I consider obvious lies. And to that, lies that have badly hurt the Phillips family and V.Phillips memory. This book is a must read for anyone that are interested in something else than special forces sience fiction. *Peter Radcliff`s book Eye of the storm is also highly recommended for the same reason I might ad *.
Respect Michael and a bloody great book!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating AND Credible, 1 Jan 2006
This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
First of all, this is a fascinating book and really well written.
But what the hell are the reviewers who say he has no credibility on about?
First of all, he is an ex-Para AND ex-SAS, which makes him better qualified than most. He spent years in the desert with the Bedouin, getting to know their ways. Anyone who knows anything about the Bedouin realises that lying is a terrible sin in their eyes. Yet one of the previous reviewers says he "only has the word of a few Bedouin peasants!" A few Bedouin peasants who were there at the time of Bravo Two Zero are likely to give a very accurate representation of what happened. The reviewer also says McNab's, Coburn's and Ryan's books say similar things. WHAT?Why, then, did McNab say the LUP was 20km from the heli drop-off and Ryan only 2km?Why did McNab recall a large firefight and charging APCs when Ryan mentioned nothing of the sort?
The book is well-written and uncovers another side to a fascinating mystery. Taking nothing away from the Bravo Two Zero guys, it was a bloody good effort, but this book gets to the bottom of the story of Bravo Two Zero, and finds McNab's account to be embellished and false.
Great book, if you've read "Bravo Two Zero" or " The One That Got Away", buy it!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading BUT........, 13 Mar 2007
By 
The Welsh Warrior "The Para" (South Wales, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
The Book was great. But i do feel that there are SOME PROBLEMS with this book. Deffinately worth reading though. on the synopsis segment of the Amazon page it doesnt quite give what i found particularly interesting. Michael Asher (ex-Para and 23 SAS)follows the footsteps of those in the B20 Mission to De-bunk its Rambo like myths and see if it is actually true. People argue, rightly to a degree, that Mr.Asher wrote this 10 years after the mission and that how can this guy (Asher) claim to know the truth behind the B20 misson when he had no part of it.

That was one of the reasons why Asher wanted to investigate for himself of how can a very very professional soldier be called by someone who has not come close to the what Vince was, a Cowardly, Incompetent, Unprofessional member of the Patrol.

I do agree with this, actually saying at one point "Talk about ego, This guy wants to set out and prove a couple of fellow Blades were lying and that Mr.Asher would find the truth". BUT.... when i read the first few pages he actually had the same problems with B20 and The one that got away as i had.

I pesonally hated the way Chris Ryan wrote about SGT.Vince Phillips (one of the dead patrol members)even though he had "Sort of" apologised for the way he portrayed Vince. Vince was nearing the end of his 22 year service with the Army. He was an extremely fit(champion marathoner) and an extremely professional senior NCO. He had served with the Paras and the Commando Brigade, then entering the SAS. he was more a seasoned soldier than Mcnab and most definately the new arrival Ryan. When Ryan slandered and BLAMED the failiure of the mission on Vince i found that a very hard pill to swallow (calling Ryan a T*at whilst reading his exploit actually), he was even calling Vince Incompetent, Unprofessional and Cowardly. You NEVER, ever slander and stab a fellow soldier in the back especially when they are dead and have no way to answer back. It goes against the grain of an unwritten soldiers creed of which i and my fellow mates live by.

I do commend Ryan for his increadible 200 mile treck across the desert and the torturous events of the other four members who were caught. I do like the books and i cant and wont comment on whats true and whats not because its not my place to, BUT i hated the way a Ryan treated Vince. And so do a lot of other fellow soldiers.

second was Michael Asher felt that the professionalism and greatness of the SAS was in trouble and hoped to prove otherwise. They are the main reasons why Asher wanted to investigate but he also found interesting Revelations about the mission.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The *Other* Side, 23 May 2004
By 
Stephen Morris (Rock Hill, SC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
Being a fan of Asher's other works and having devoured McNab's and Ryan's books on the ill-fated patrol, I poured through this with interest.
Asher seems to make it a point to take the Arab side in every detail he finds, acting in the role of counsel for the other side. He sparingly credits the patrol members with performing above-normal acts of heroism and endurance.
The writing is good. His cross-referencing of McNab's and Ryan's books is air-tight. The on-the-ground research is detailed in that he followed the patrols' paths. However, in the field, he assigns each Bedu he meets with the highest virtue and credibility. Though the some of the claims of distances covered and contacts made by Bravo Two Zero are easily debunked, it is not well-balanced to trust the Bedu in every detail.
It does seem the patrol could have been better prepared by each of them studying some Arabic, learning about the Bedu, rechecking comms and having a firm E&E plan. The patrol was extremely far behind enemy lines and this was their first contact under such circumstances so some decisions probably, in retrospect, were not optimal. However, these men were on the ground making out the best they could at the time given their lot.
This is well worth a read. The fog of war assures that the details of each patrol members' accounts will be lacking in some regard. But it should be remembered, Asher easily located the Bedu involved in contacts with the patrol, proving that the Bedu were not so inaccessible as to be exempt to subjection to Iraq.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 7 Nov 2009
By 
It is important to remember that historical events, particularly 'glorious failures' such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Bravo Two Zero patrol will forever be subject to speculation and there is little chance of ever knowing for sure the whole truth behind such operations. Michael Asher has merely added another view to the plethora of literature associated with the Bravo Two Zero mission. A number of people have criticised this book for its lack of "reliable sources" and Asher's iconoclastic viewpoint. I suspect that these unimaginative people simply find it a problem that Asher has thought outside the box and used interviews with Arabs and Iraqis who were present at the time rather than treating the words of McNab, Ryan and Coburn's accounts of the patrol as the definitive truth (which no doubt many British people would have found preferable). In my opinion Asher's viewpoint is only slightly less valid than the members of the patrol who have written there accounts, mainly because he was not actually on the patrol. This fact, however, should not mean that he is not entitled to his opinion and I believe that he has done the best job he can (if his interviewees were lying how was he to know?)and that this book provides thought provoking reading and simply another, higly readable account of the Bravo Two Zero patrol. If you are interested in the Bravo Two Zero mission then the best way to find out is to buy the book and see what you think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Bravo Two Zero, 24 Nov 2013
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An excellent read for anyone who read the original book or who watched the televised portrayal. This is clearly closer to the truth than the hyped up first publication. I am particularly pleased to see that the vilification of Vince Phillips has been proved to be inaccurate.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont just accept what is said, 19 Oct 2007
By 
Mr. Ronald G. Brown "Land of the Brave" (- - Scotland - -) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
I have read both Brave Two Zero and The Real Brave two zero.
What I would say is, read the books and make up your own mind, It might be difficult to accept, but at the end of the day, We can only go on the words of the authors, so one book can not be said to more 'true' than the other.

Yet when Michael Asher, just through simple deduction, can put holes in McNab's story it seems to question the likly hood of the BTZ story.

Yet As always, Hind Sight is always 20-20, plus BTZ was behind enamy lines, under that kind of stress i think even the best might make mistakes.
Plus the events which McNab is reacalling at the breafing, was after his term as a Pow, thats a long time to have rememberd details such as distances walked and so on. Is it not possible he simply recalled incorrectly? yet could it simply be that McNab was right, Ryan Wrong, and Asher has simply been lied too.
Therefore I would say that from only using the books, its impossible to say who is correct. Read them take from what you will but just remember, none can be shown to totaly certain so dont take sides but view with an open mind.

Cheers
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting alternative look at B20, but flawed research, 10 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero (Paperback)
As far as I'm concerned its as simple as this: All the Spec ops wannabes and SAS groupies who actually believe that a small recon team is capable of pulling off all the John Wayne heroics claimed by Andy McNab are living in a fantasy world. But by the same token, those who stray to the other extreme and believe that Michael Asher has uncovered the indisputable truth in "The Real Bravo Two Zero" are being just as gullible. When I heard that an SAS man who was experienced in desert exploration and dealing with the Arabs had uncovered the "true story" of McNab's mission, I was eager to see what he had found. Unfortunately the book left me unimpressed. I admire Asher's extremely thorough field investigation, but much of his research is incomplete and his conclusions highly questionable.
Apparently the memory of a fallen comrade was dishonored by Chris Ryan, who accused him of cowardice and blame him for compromising the patrol (though I haven't read Ryan's book). Whether it was true or not, the idea that Ryan would publicly kick dirt on the grave of one of his brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice is just plain disgraceful and completely lacking in any sort of military honor. To Asher's credit, his efforts to clear this man's good name were very admirable. I was also impressed by the extent to which Asher traced B20's exact path on location. He also does a great job of pointing out all the inconsistencies and questionable aspects of McNab and Ryan's stories. He does successfully expose these two jokers. However, his effort to uncover the true story falls way short. As rightfully skeptical of McNab and Ryan as he is, for some reason Asher easily accepts the stories given to him by a few Iraqis and Bedouin as the definitive truth. If he thinks that the Iraqis would have no motivation to lie, then he ought to have his head checked! Saddam's oppressive government was (among other things) a massive propaganda machine with no credibility whatsoever. During the OIF invasion there was a point where Saddam's military had literally collapsed and we pretty much had his country occupied. As some might recall, the Iraqi Minister of Information was still doing press conferences and reporting to his own people and the world that American forces were being hopelessly slaughtered and driven out. Yeah I had myself a good laugh on that one.
Why Asher would so quickly dismiss the possibility that the Iraqis could've distorted their story for the purposes of propaganda is beyond me. And if he thinks that Bedouin are so honorable and saintly that they would not lie to make themselves look good, then he doesn't know the Arabs half as well as he seems to think he does. Not to sound racist, but it is my experience that the Arabs can be notorious liars and storytellers, especially when it comes to issues of their personal manliness and cultural pride. Asher seems so enamored with Arab culture and the Bedouin way of life that he refuses to see this. The story that the Bedouin fed Asher is just as unbelievable as McNab's. So three crusty goatherders fearlessly chased away a team of heavily armed infidels with no help from Saddam's army, huh? Sure buddy. Obviously McNab and Ryan aren't the only ones in the B20 story lying to make themselves look like heroes.
A compromise of any sort is cause for a mission abort. But a compromise involving only three armed civilians (with no enemy troops in sight) is NOT going to send a highly trained team running for their lives so frantically that they come down with heat exhaustion and lose each other in the desert. That's just completely ridiculous. I believe that the patrol probably encountered significant enemy forces at their OP. But instead of charging into them like a bunch of cowboys (as McNab describes) they probably broke contact and E&E'ed as fast as they could. Those poor guys were probably scared out of their wits. They had no comm, no vehicles, and were evading in open desert terrain. Pretty bad situation to be in.
Asher simply lacks objectivity when dealing with the Arabs. He is willing to accept almost everything they tell him at face value. His justifications for putting such faith in their stories is weak, at best. Why didn't he try to get more details of the official SAS op report and compare it with the Iraqi side of the story? Why didn't he interview a few of the other surviving members of the B20 squad? In the end, Asher's book is worth reading just for the fact that it exposes McNab and Ryan as the liars they are. However, it suffers from incomplete research, and Asher ends up jumping to conclusions. As for Andy McNab and Chris Ryan, they sold out the honor of their profession. I respect whatever accomplishments they've had in their careers, and I respect the SAS as home to some of the finest professional soldiers in the world. However this does not mean that the public should idealize men like McNab and Ryan as great heroes. They are unscrupulous opportunists who shamelessly played upon the public's perception of special forces soldiers in order to make themselves into pop culture icons. There are many men in the SAS and other places who've made much bigger sacrifices and achieved much greater heights of true heroism, but will never get fame or fortune for what they've accomplished (and they won't ask for it either). The truth is that B20 was little more than a fairly insignificant mission that turned into a complete fiasco. It is a poor example of the SAS's level of competence and capability. If I had to draw an American parallel, it would be the Desert One mission.
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The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero by Michael Asher (Paperback - 13 Feb 2003)
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