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4.6 out of 5 stars
Fighting Season: Tales of a British Officer in Afghanistan
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2012
'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
on 7 April 2012
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
on 30 March 2012
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
on 12 April 2012
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
on 25 July 2012
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
on 15 April 2012
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
on 23 April 2012
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2012
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2012
From the banal to the brutal, this darkly funny debut book lifts the lid on ground-level realities in Afghanistan. Perhaps the most important contribution to foreign affairs literature since the publication of Three Cups of Tea?
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on 19 January 2014
I've read quite a few books from people in extreme or interesting situations, and the quality of the tales often doesn't correlate with the quality of how they are written. Lee can clearly write well though, and the structure of the book is really well thought through, interspersed with rightly checked opinion and reflections on his training that makes it a really enjoyable read. Top notch work.
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