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on 1 March 2013
I must confess to being a bit sceptical when a friend recommended I read this. It's been ten years & I kind of thought all the best books had come out about this war - and said so. I'm ex-forces and like the genre but not so much I can suffer an average or worse book - esp as I'm normally a slow reader. So I was wrong and I'm big enough to write my penance! The book was excellent on all levels and really swept me into his world and carried me along. Obviously the events/story = v strong & truly edge of the seat stuff but what I think it has over, say Bravo 2 Zero, etc is that the guy can obviously WRITE. It has that writer's need to convey but still maintain the ease of reading - descriptions, characters become real, their motives and why decisions are taken (at all levels, top to bottom - partly helped by the fact that Blakeley was 2IC of the unit AND fighting with his patrol, leading from the front). It's also honest eg the moments of self-doubt and the loneliness of being in charge: as an officer you can't ever quite relax as one of the boys. This honesty is what I found lacking in books like Chris Kyle (RIP)'s account. There's the laugh out loud stuff that I think only ex-service writers can convey. I like Sebastian Faulks but even in WW1 the soldiers were having laughs - it's what bonds and makes a unit great. I actually would have given this 5 stars if the book had been bigger - I've waited this long to hear this story and I felt like I could have done with more, say about his early days. Maybe that wasn't the writer's fault or maybe he's going to do more. I hope the latter. Penance done, enjoy!
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on 24 May 2013
Once it gets warmed up, this is a pretty good read. The climactic battle is as exciting as any thriller - but the first half of the book is all planning and background stuff and is only interesting if you are interested in that sort of thing! I certainly agree with another reviewer about the way he goes on about his expensive watch and sunglasses - a couple of (e-book) pages at least on the watch alone! It made him sound like an adolescent fantasist - and in fact the author doesn't come out of the book as well as he perhaps thinks.

Reading between the lines it seems as if there were some doubts within his team regarding his leadership qualities even before the mission. Then, when his team were in a fix, he came up with a plan that could well have got them all killed and which none of the others agreed with - and he had to give way to the majority. Once on their mission they were spotted by someone in a car who actually deliberately mingled in with their convoy, clearly noting their vehicles and manpower, and openly phoning someone as he did it. The author says he couldn't so anything because the man spying on them was dressed as a civilian - but it is a decision (completely ridiculous in a war zone near the front lines to my mind) that nearly got him and all his men killed. I'm no military expert, but in fact I wonder how the whole mission reflects on the British army. (Spoiler alert) A unit that specialises in stealth and silent parachute insertions behind enemy lines, they were refused permission to make an air drop and told to drive through the enemy front line along a main road in un-armoured vehicles - with no air support on standby for when things went wrong! No wonder the Americans couldn't believe it!
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on 6 October 2013
What an amazing story of one outstanding small unit. David and every member of that patrol should have received an honour, they definitely deserved that at least. Typical of some senior officers suggesting that David was wrong in continuing his with his plan. David was right in what he done, anyone reading this book would agree. I am so proud of what David and his men achieved, what a pity that higher authority failed in recognizing them. The Americans gained so much from David's Intel and acknowledged that. Well done the pathfinders.
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on 14 June 2012
This book is a great read and had me gripped from start to finish. From the moment the action kicks off it doesn't stop and you get to really visualize what these guys went through and the close calls had me completely on edge! As a reader i tend to dip in and out of books on war, but this is one i would definitely recommend.
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on 13 October 2013
I buy A LOT of modern war books and this one is up there in the top 5. He really loves his country and unit which is a plus and he describes his one battle really well. You get a real feel of the action and more importantly life in his unit and why the morale was so high. The only negative about this book is that it only describes one battle and ends after that but I understand that he's written more books so I guess i'll have to buy them too!
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2012
Like a lot of other current war stories be it in Iraq or Afghanistan not a lot different really. I think there are some major errors and exaggerations to make it a better read. His comments about his £2000 Bvlgari watch are ludicrous, the MOD issue to Special Forces (though the PF's are not classed as SP's)and others a range of watches from the Cabot Watch Company and are superb. His Persol glasses, the most expensive I can find even now is $500. Both items read more like 2003 'bling' than operational items. He cannot say the height from which HALO and HAHO are from, simple, 25,000ft and 30,000Ft to 40,000Ft respectively, its no secret. He quotes the Royal Irish Rangers under Col. Tim Collins. They were the Royal Irish Regiment. There are no Air Vice Marshall's in the USAF, the equivalent rank is Major General in the USAF. Service in the PF's may have altered since 2003 but currently it is 3 years with an option of a further 3 years. The PF course is not as long or as severe as the SAS or SBS course other than the specialising of HALO and HAHO (which some SAS also do). Many of the PF's opt to take the SAS selction course to join after 3 years in the PF's. Considering this book is about an episode in 2003 it seems dated 9 years later to suddenly appear. Where he let himself down and those he served with in the PF's is by going public with this story. Also I personally believe that he does himself no favours in publishing a private letter sent to him by Prince Charles. That should have been kept private. Books on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now 10 a penny, some good some bad but all basically the same. Possibly the best or one of the best to date is, 'Dead Men Risen' by Toby Harnden.
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on 7 December 2014
I had the misfortune of crossing paths with this self obsessed "want to be" at Headley court he is a vain vile human being he obviously has an axe to grind with H do to failing hills ? if you want to see how elite the PF are simply watch them on youtube in Afghan , his poor lack of judgement and lack of responsibility put his whole team in danger and achieved nothing , the worst book ive read in years and save your money
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on 5 July 2014
Having read the authors first book 'Maverick One' it was just a tad disappointing to find some of the same or similar material appearing at various points throughout this one. Slightly more disappointing was to find that the accolades inside the front covers of both books, one would have though referring to the book in which they appeared, were identical ! One titled " Praise for David Blakely" and the other "Praise for Pathfinder". Indeed when reading such accolades that refer to 'the telling of AN elite MISSION' only to find that the same descriptor refers to numerous unrelated missions leaves one feeling that the author of good work has been badly let down by his publisher. Maybe Orion think the general readership will only ever read one book or pay scant attention to what they read.

So much for the publisher. Even for those who have been involved in periods of intense war fighting, the authors ability to take the reader to the heart of fear driven adrenaline set against a mission imperative is laser accurate and absolutely jaw dropping. How these elite troops plan and prosecute operations with such tenacity and bravery leaves those who support what our military does on our behalves, very proud. Sadly, as is also shown, it is not the same case with some of the senior masters of Britain's Finest nor of 'their' political masters who all too often seem to have none of the backbone of the troops they order in to solve their problems, or sadly the knowledge and understanding of what it means to engage in the extreme violence modern warfare involves and yet still to remain fair and accountable. As the author implies - 'give us the job and let us get on with it in a way we know will be successful'.

Well written by one who has been there, got the T-Shirt and sadly paid the price. Honest and pulse raising !
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on 17 December 2015
The main mission is great to read about and there is some good background to the secretive regiment. One big complaint is that there is a lot of repetition in the first 50 pages and throughout. Whole paragraphs are repeated and the same point is made several times. However the main mission is so good I have still given it 5 stars as it's well worth the read.
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on 20 December 2013
I've just finished Dave's book; an excellent read about excellent British soldiers; the very cream of the airborne. These guys don't go on to join the Hereford Regiment; they move sideways. What disgusted me was the fact that despite being right out beyond all allied troops, no air assets were available to the lads. No air for them to insert, no air once they needed to bug out... having to scrounge kit from the Americans. Oh, and getting a slagging by the base rats because they went forward against massive odds. I'll be reading the rest of his books. Ilson Jacko.
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