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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very insightful book
'Fighting Season' offers an excellent insight into a war which for those not taking part in it, has simply become part of the background noise of modern life, and the purpose of which can often seem opaque. Captain Lee went to Afghanistan looking for a war, motivated by the same desire to 'see action'that compels so many other young men. However, the war was not as he...
Published on 30 Mar. 2012 by Leon

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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Officer naivety as standard
Well done you went to Helmand.
Calling this book fighting season is misleading at best.
You weren't in a fight and worse still you actually write about wanting to be in one.
You should have spoken to your men fist and asked their opinions ans perhaps you wouldn't have written this book.
No impressed one little bit
Published 15 months ago by Daniel Edwards

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very insightful book, 30 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
'Fighting Season' offers an excellent insight into a war which for those not taking part in it, has simply become part of the background noise of modern life, and the purpose of which can often seem opaque. Captain Lee went to Afghanistan looking for a war, motivated by the same desire to 'see action'that compels so many other young men. However, the war was not as he imagined it would be. Lee writes superbly, and captures themes common to many modern war memoirs, only he does so in a much finer resolution. The frustrating monotony of his roles at Camp Bastion, are contrasted with the poignant reality of the war he witnesses at the 'sharp end' with the devastating effects it has both on his comrades and local people. Where Lee's book excells is with its thoughtful analysis of what's going on around him and inside his own head. 'Fighting Season' presents an incredibly honest and intelligent account, free from bravado, and offering many piercing insights into the murky reality of this conflict. Moreover, despite the seriousness of his subject, Lee does not take himself too seriously and relays some very humerous anecdotes. This book is very entertaining, yet at the same time it is the most thoughtful and lucid account I have yet come across concerning this war. Essential reading to anyone interested in Afghanistan and what's going on there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Season-ational, 7 April 2012
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This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
Fighting Season recounts the tour of duty in Afghanistan by Captain Graham Lee in 2008. Lee chronicles his time there with wry observation and reveals the inner workings of NATO with an almost sardonic wit. A self-confessed "war tourist" he went to join the conflict looking for action and reports on his experiences with a refreshingly a-political point of view. Like many a great war commentator he realises that the most effective way to tell of ones time on the battlefield is to present it as black comedy, as evidenced in scenes such as when he recounts the tale of a Corporal who found the hand of his colleague in his backpack after being injured. What makes him unique to the people who've taken this approach is that Lee actually witnessed these events first-hand. He's the real deal. He also has a great eye for detail which is something that is often lacking in tales of war. You can almost feel the sand of Helmand Province beneath your feet and smell the dusty camps he would find himself stationed in. Lee's style of prose juxtaposes good journalism, introspection and satire to great effect and he comes across as a kind of love child of Joe Sacco and Bill Bryson. Want to read more from this author . . . now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable thoughtful book, 30 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book. It describes a tour of duty in Afghanistan in a personal and thoughtful manner, with all the highs and lows; the reflection and the action; the deep encounters with other people, and; the facing of strange situations. It is well written, so the text flows and you get lost in the prose - feel as if you are really there. It is also very hard to put down. You live through an echo of the frustrations and excitements that Graham Lee must have felt. You finish knowing and understanding a little more of the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan, and of British attempts to deal with it, to help and make a difference - and you are left with questions and thoughts.. this is a really good thoughtful book - well worth buying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good book, 12 April 2012
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This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
I'd highly recommend Fighting Season. I couldn't put it down once I'd started reading, and kept thinking about it long after I'd finished. This isn't a brash shoot-em-up thriller; it's an elegantly written, moving and honest account of what life is really like for an -often bored- British officer in Afghanistan. It is a very authentic book, like a personal friend recounting his experiences to you, albeit one who can write really very well. It is at times laugh out loud funny, and Lee has no qualms about poking fun at his own mishaps to great effect. It's packed with beautiful light hearted characterisations of the diverse characters that he encounters on his tour. Yet it also has a much more serious side. This book is an intelligent, thought provoking and ultimately depressing analysis of the complex problems faced in Afghanistan today.

Everyone should read "Fighting Season"- you should read it because we should all know what happens to the men and women we send abroad to fight in our name, and the physical and emotional tolls they pay on our behalf. You should read this book to better understand the enormity of the problem in Afghanistan and the terrible price paid by the Afghan people for decades of war. But you should also read this book because it a really great book and you'll really enjoy reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid, informative read, 25 July 2012
This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
Lee sets the tone of his book early on. From the first few pages the reader understands that his account of his 2008 tour of Afghanistan is going to be unusual. This is not a classic account of gun battles against insurgents and daring-do (although there is enough of that) but instead a book about the honest frustrations and boredom that war can bring.

It's candid, languid and, almost, louche. It's also a must read for anybody interested in modern warfare. This was Lee's first book and I'm already eagerly anticipating his second.

I hear Lee's hanging around in Central Asia, which must surely be an inspiring enough place for a writer of his obvious talent to generate enough material for a second book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very topical read, 15 April 2012
This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
A fantastic book--simultaneously banal and heroic, cynical and hopeful, funny and tragic. It will irrevocably change the way you listen to news from Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic real life perspective of a young officer in Afghanistan, 23 April 2012
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This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
Great book, really witty, personal and moving. Describes the real joys, sorrows, dreams and frustrations of a young officer on his first deployment to 'war', written in a fantastic style that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Great first book, and I can't wait for another...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turning must read for any civvy ****!, 29 July 2012
This review is from: Fighting Season (Kindle Edition)
Graham Lee's book Fighting Season is an education. It is a book about war and the army without any frills or glorification. Lee's job is to capture the shooting pain of shin splints incurred during training for the parachute regiment in articulate prose, and muse with a dry analytical wit on the "battle for hearts and minds" in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He does it to perfection.

As a young, gung-ho officer in the signals department, Lee is constantly "in search of the war" - blood-pumping confrontations with the Taliban featuring exploding IEDs and other military-technical terms that most "civvy ****s" - squaddy slang for civillians - would strain to understand. Frustrated by a series of boring postings handed down to him by his seniors, he never really finds that war. But as a REMF (read the book to find out what that stands for) he has time to develop some cutting - often hillarious - insights into the Allied presence in Afghanistan, while his own interactions with members of the rag-tag Afghan National Army are both touching and telling.

But this isn't to say that as a REMF (read the book to find out what that stands for) Lee is completely isolated from the dangers and horrors of life in a conflict zone. There is no such thing as a "safe" distance from the Taliban, and Lee's occasional scrapes with mortality serve to build a page-turning tension throughout the book. Moreover, while Lee's excellent sense of humour runs from cover to cover, he knows when to give it a rest. While life in the army teaches a soldier to laugh at the macabre, there are moments of genuine tragedy in the book - where somebody's loved one is lost to a land mine or a suicide bomber - and Lee treats these moments with sombre and measured introspection.

Lee's book is a must-read because it dispels myths about life in the army. It cuts through slogans like 'the battle for hearts and minds' by presenting the grim realities - and mundanities - of war, and gets behind the geopolitics of the Allied presence in Afghanistan through a series of well drawn characters - men from the Afghan, British, and US militaries. Lee argues that the British operation was not under-equipped, and makes a nonsense of headlines by British tabloids that chose to compare 'our boys in Afganistan' with free-spending Members of Parliament during the now-infamous "expenses scandal".

The army is, however, alienated from, and even disregarded by, by the general public, he writes. On midway leave during his tour, Lee describes his "return to the surface" - a psychological as well as physical return to civillian life. In transit back to Britain, soldiers are shown a video warning them of questions that might be posed by the Man on the Street. One question the video repeats is "So, how many people did you kill?".

"No-one would be enough of a **** to ask that," Lee thinks to himself. Later, at Kings X Station, he is surrounded by a gaggle of young boys. Still dressed in his military uniform, he tries not to engage them. Nevertheless, one of the boys, feeling brav,e walks up to him and asks him: "So, soldier - how many people did you kill?"

Graham Lee's book is not a cry for support for the army, or a plea to "get behind" its operations in Afghanistan. From start to finish it pulls no punches in describing some of the more farcical elements of a military occupation, and its depiction of the military lifestyle is neither glamorous or self-pitying. But throughout its pages it conveys the fact that folks in the army are humans doing a job - for the most part without thanks - and that occasionally that job will cost them their life. If that fact alone doesn't deserve respect, then it at least deserves understanding.

A cracking, insightful read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Far from your typical military memoir and all the better for it, 6 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan (Paperback)
This unusual book has been seriously let down by its marketing. The book cover and comments on the back get it totally wrong. I laughed my way through much of this. I've read a lot of military memoirs, and I can't think of many which were as caustically amusing as this candid reflection on soldiering, muddling one's way as a young officer, and the elusive and doomed search for heroism and adventure amid a comedy of errors (a journey I remember well having also been a muddling young officer in Iraq and Afghanistan). The book is richly satirical, a cross between a perceptive military memoir, M*A*S*H* and Catch-22. I can't give it 5 stars otherwise it would be up there with the likes of Michael Herr's "Dispatches" and Richard Hillary's "The Last Enemy" which are nigh on impossible to emulate. But compared to contemporary memoirs about Iraq and Afghanistan this is way in the lead, and, most importantly, readable and entertaining. I got to the last page thoroughly impressed, while perplexed by the capricious ways of the publishing world. Now a civilian, who gets his kicks by reading good literature, I can only offer the author the gunman's salute for a job very well done.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting Season, 4 April 2012
This review is from: Fighting Season (Hardcover)
Fighting Season is the most illuminating searchlight yet to be turned on to-day's Afghan war. On political and personal levels the author highlights the motivation and suffering of those fighting, both Afghan and British,and the futility of trying to remake Afghanistan in any image but its own. The British tried three times, the Russians once. Captain Lee shows todays coalition failing a fourth time. He shows that tactical successes over the Taliban are not buying strategic victory; that coalition efforts to win hearts and minds amount only to sticking plaster on a gaping wound of appalling corruption on all sides and the most barbarous cruelty of the Taliban. It is clearly a war that ordinary Afghans are desperate to end and which Captain Lee and his soldier companions should not be asked to fight. If history repeats itself it is with the British army. The attitudes Lee describes, the jokes he recounts, the bravery and commitment to "the job" and comrades he records would all be familiar to the 18th century audience of George Farquhar's comedy 'The Recruiting Sergeant'. Moving easily between excellently written description of life on the front and near front line and a dispassionate analysis of the disconnect with any coherent policy objective this is a book hard to put down and essential to finish for anyone interested in to-day's battle for western priorities in Afghanistan.
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Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan
Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan by Graham Lee (Paperback - 20 Jun. 2013)
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