99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A credible account
When I first opened Mike Coburn's "Soldier Five" it became apparent to me that this was a labour of love. The first few pages before we are plunged into the now infamous story immediately inform the reader of Coburn's intentions. Unlike the self gratifying accounts of Ryan and McNab, it is clear that his primary intentions are to clear the name of an upstanding and...
Published on 14 Mar 2005 by Phil Smith
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More truth than fiction
This is the best book written about the mission carried out by Bravo Two Zero. The author was right to stick to his gunns to fight for its publication so that the truth could be known rather than reading about what other members of the patrol thought what had happened. Well done Mike.
Published on 16 Jan 2005
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99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A credible account,
The book kicks off in much the same way as McNab's "Bravo two Zero", describing the build up to the patrol's insertion into the Gulf. I found the lack of macho and self afirming nostalgia regarding the famous SAS banter distinctly refreshing. Coburn discribes eloquently this passage of time. A trend which continues throughout the book.
As any reader of alternative accounts will know, nothing much goes right from the moment they step on the helicopter. I found Coburn to handle the ensuing section of the story with great tact, combining suspense, humour and fact - the latter being an element sadly lacking from McNab and Ryan's books. Distinctly unlike the other books at no point does Coburn use his story as a means to massage his ego regarding his abilities as a soldier or person. This is something which I found to allow me to believe what I was reading - why would I have a reason not to? In fact Coburn constantly references the fact that he really was the 'baby' of the patrol having been selected only some six months prior to engagement.
This combination of elements leads to a thrilling read. Its a definate cliché, but I really could not stop my fingers grabbing at the pages in anticipation of what was to come. His story reaches a crescendo as he comes face to face with an Iraqi private. Imagine then my dismay to turn the page only to find him prattling on about where he was born and where he used to live when he was 8! However, dispite my apprehensions at the story apparently coming to a shuddering halt, the next five chapters turned out to be some of my favourite from the book. We learn of the author's transformation from a failing school rebel to a determined and capable soldier. I won't give too much away, but that in its self is as enjoyable a read as any other part of the book.
After the gloriously gory details given by McNab regarding his torture in his own book, I found myself somewhat disappointed with Coburn's offering. The section entitled 'Guest of Saddam' seemed to me rather brief, and nowhere near as exciting as I had perhaps hoped. Although this is very much to the author's credit; Far from elaborating stories for shock or entertainment value, Coburn appears to give a very straight forward and at times shining account of his treatment by his captors. That said, my one criticism of the book is that it struggles to pick up pace after the description of his capture and the ensuing delve into his past.
I would highly reccomend this book to anyone who has read any previous accounts of the B20 mission. As well as offering Coburn's story in his own words, it also dispells some of the myths surrounding the mission. For those who are not currently acquainted with this story, this is as good a place as any to start. For me, Coburn is a far more proficient author than any of his comrades. This is enhanced by the fact that he is bent on telling the truth and clearing the name of an innocent man. Far from being an elaborate war thriller based loosely on the events of the B20 mission as other books are, this is an honest account of what happened - no bucks passed, no lies told.
For Mike Coburn, this book means everything. He spent his life savings fighting court battle after court battle trying to get it published, and not to read it would be an injustice to not only him, but to Vince Phillips - the man he fought for so long for to clear his name.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brave effort,
This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission: The Real Story of the Bravo Two Zero Mission (Hardcover)Mike Coburn, Soldier Five is an interesting book in that is gives another perspective on the Bravo Two Zero story. I remember thinking that Andy McNabs version (Bravo Two Zero) was really upbeat and positive and did not paint anyone in a really negative light while Chris Ryans version had the subtitle (the real hero of the mission!) and tended to be far more critical, especially of Vince Philips. I thought at the time that I could see myself following AMN. but not CR. just because of the negativity shown. However Mike's version claims to be written to put the story straight. He is clearly annoyed about the flak that Vince Philips and his family have received! ( Elsewhere on the web we learn that Vince's dad died in sorrow about the spin put on his "perfomance" in the mission). Some heavy suggestions are made in the book about the attitude of the SAS leadership back home to men on the run behind the lines. It would seem that the leadership made the decision that it was not safe to try a rescue and the 8 men were effectively left to their own fate. Mike Coburn clearly sees this as a kick in the teeth and unexpected. The opening line of the CO when they got back was they it had been decided that "there would not be a court martial!". Another slap in the face for guys who had survived what they had gone thru.
Mike Coburn, Soldier Five is a far less upbeat verion of the Bravo Two Zero story than Andy Mcnab's but the last bit of the book outlines the outrageous lengths the UK govt has gone to just to stop the book. Who do we believe? Well I always wondered about the cynical, negative spin that Andy McNab introduced into all his fiction books but I can now see the inspiration for Nick Stone-the guy who is crapped on by the powers that be- Mike Coburn's account gives the basis for this perfectly! Read this book!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!,
This book was written with a different style from The One That Got Away and Bravo Two Zero; while Bravo Two Zero is gory, horrifying and incredibly depressing, and The One That Got Away (also a fantastic book!!) is a clean-cut quite unemotional depiction of the story, Mike looks at the story from different angles, adds some humour and mixes out a quite optimistic story where he f.ex. sees no need to write about wounds with horrifying detail and description.
A really good read! Absolutely worth your money. You won't be disappointed! Seven stars!!!!
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a credible account from a B20 survivor!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission: The Real Story of the Bravo Two Zero Mission (Hardcover)If you are interested in this book then you are probably already familiar with the infamous Bravo Two Zero SAS mission and the controversy surrounding it. Soldier Five is the fourth book published about the mission. The first book by patrol leader Andy McNab was entitled "Bravo Two Zero". Chris Ryan, the only member of the patrol who managed to evade death or capture, quickly followed suit with his book, "The One That Got Away". And so began the huge controversy and debate over what really happened during the mission, and where to place blame for its unfortunate outcome (three members of the patrol dead, four captured and tortured, with only one escaping capture or death)
It's been pretty much established that Andy McNab greatly exaggerated and even fabricated a number of key events in his book. It's been shown that Chris Ryan distorted facts and added a few embellishments as well. Ryan also scapegoated the patrol's 2nd in command, Vince Phillips (who died during the mission) for much of what went wrong, portraying him as cowardly and generally incompetent. The other surviving members of B20 as well as others in the SAS adamantly spoke out against Ryan for this.
As of now, there are quite a few books available that deal with the events of Bravo Two Zero. Aside from McNab, Ryan, and Coburn's books, there is also "The Real Bravo Two Zero" by Michael Asher. Peter Ratcliffe also comments briefly on B20 in "Eye of the Storm". For a clear perspective on things, it would be worth examining all the accounts mentioned above and drawing your own conclusion.
After looking at all accounts and making my own analysis, I believe that Soldier Five is the most credible account of the B20 mission. Coburn comes across as a humble, fair, and honorable man whose main motivation is to set the record straight on Bravo Two Zero. In his introduction, Coburn describes his frustration towards all the outrageous claims and controversy surrounding B20. It is also worth noting that another surviving patrol member writes a brief foreword in Soldier Five where he endorses Coburn's account as the credible one and echoes Coburn's sentiments regarding all the hooplah that is already out there.
Coburn's account agrees with some general aspects of Chris Ryan's, although he completely refutes Ryan's scathing indictment of Vince Phillips. Furthermore, whereas Ryan repeatedly portrays himself as the leader and hero of the mission, Coburn does not show Ryan's role as any more significant than that of the other patrol members. Coburn's description of the combat experienced during the mission seems much more credible than previous accounts. The vast majority of the Rambo-like action movie heroics described by McNab (and to a lesser extent, Ryan) are not supported. His account of the mission seems brutally honest, with no glorification or embellishment whatsoever. His analysis of the events is objective, thoughtful, and intelligent.
Soldier Five's middle section deals with Coburn's history in the New Zealand military/special forces and his eventual journey over to the UK SAS. The end of the book also includes an interesting account of the legal battle and personal struggles Coburn had to go through in order to finally get his book published. After finishing the book, I am left with profound respect for Coburn's strong character and personal integrity. He truly exemplifies the quiet professionalism and honor of Special Operations soldiers, and his book is a brutally honest and intelligent examination of a special forces mission gone horribly wrong. After many publications and a great deal of controversy, I believe that Coburn has finally set the record straight. I only hope that his book will reach as wide of an audience as the previous ones have had.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Attempts were made by the Govt. to ban this book as it shows up the adventure type editing that they subjected to the works of Andy and Chris.
Mike Coburn had to fight for publication.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth The Wait,
By A Customer
This review is from: Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission: The Real Story of the Bravo Two Zero Mission (Hardcover)Finally after four and a bit years of high court wrangling Soldier Five has been released. There are no major secrets revealed so why the long wait? After all Peter Ratcliffe who was serving in the SAS when the gagging contract for personnel serving in/working with Special Forces came into effect published his book with few problems. Having read the book I now know why the MoD didn't want it published. It definatly doesn't paint the 'Head Shed' in a glorious light. The fact the Officer Commanding B Sqn told the patrol to head for Syria if they were compromised was the complete opposite of what had come from Regiment where the policy was to head for Saudi. Add to that the cock up with the radio frequencies (they were given radio frequencies that would only work well in Saudi) and the fact that when the patrol did establish communications it was to tell HQ that they were compromised. Despite the fact that the RV was some 20km away from the S60 anti - aircraft weapons a rescue attempt was not allowed. Having read Bravo Two Zero, The One That Got Away and The Real Bravo Two Zero prior to this I would definatly say this is the best of the lot. Unlike Ryan, Coburn doesn't make out that everyone else on the patrol was useless, Coburn doesn't stretch the facts with 20km tabs carrying 15 stones worth of kit or hijacking yellow taxis or go out and interview people who have got a lot of explaining/covering their own backs about the treatment of POW's. This is a good, honest book which will hopefully end the controversy over what actually happened on the patrol. A very good read.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book,
Mike Coburn, (a pyseadonym for Mark in the other books) was part of the famous patrol; therfore making it a bit more beleivable. He writes in such a way so that you feel as if you know the soldiers yourself, and infact that you are in the patrol. You share all his experiences just from reading the book, which is quite remarkable.
All the events seem to make sense as well. Considering there have been around 4 accusations for which acctually happened during those 4 days, Coburns series of events seem to add up all four stories and make them make sense. I recently saw Michael Ashers' 'The Real Bravo Two Zero' on television in which he spoke to locals in the Iraqi desert and followed the patrols' route. I thought he did well, however did not beleive much of his story. Some of Coburns' facts tdo indeed fit in with what Asher said. This surprised me, however much of what he said was infact wrong.
I am glad I read this book and am glad that Coburn managed to beat the MoD in court. I think this book is to be reccomended to any person interested in this story, or any military enthusiast. His story I beleive is the truth; but I still hold great respect to the men of Bravo Two Zero.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping account!,
By A Customer
The book dives straight into the action not letting up for one minute and is written with alot of pain and ill feeling still buried deep inside!!!!!!!
All in all a great read and well worth buying.........well if the MoD tried to ban i should think so ....don't you?
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent,
There has been newspaper articles of Mike and Andy arguing over facts and claims, by Mike, Andy was not a very good leader. This was also made by Peter Ratcliffe. No where in Mike's book did it show this. In fact, is showed quite the opposite. It appears by Andy's book and Mike's book, Mr McNab was quite a good leader. He made mistakes, yes, however he admits them himself. Not to mention I have NEVER read an account, either in his book, or anywhere else, where McNab EVER put down another member of the patrol. Again, in his own book, he says quite the opposite.
The biggest argument should be made against Chris Ryan and Michael Asher. This book totally refutes both Ryan's account of Vince Phillips and it refutes Asher's account in his book. Coburn's account backs up McNab's and calls into question Asher's accounting (one I don't believe anyway).
The fault for the entire mission doesn't fall on McNab's shoulders, it falls on the shoulders of the SAS. The adminstration was the one who failed; not the soldiers on the ground. All eight of them are hero's in my book, no matter what "really occurred."
Bottom line, the story over all and in general, is OUTSTANDING. One which will live forever.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The TOTAL Truth! An Excellent Book.,
By A Customer
However the most important issue this book addresses is the fact that Vince Phillips (2nd in command of the team) was not to blame for anything that happened in the failure of the mission, the M.o.D have known this for years but only addressed it when they knew that Soldier Five was going to be published! Which was probably one of the many reasons they didn't want the book publishing in the first place.
This books nearly didn't make it out with the M.o.D trying to band it. I didn't know why they would do this considering two books on the now infamous mission already published! After reading the book however I can now see why, several mistakes are highlight in the chain of command of the Squadron Mike Coburn was attached to which ultimately lead to the failure of the mission and so blowing any cover up the M.o.D had surround the mission with!
If you like this type of reading you will not be dissappointed with this book and if you have already read any of the other books on this mission I strongly urge you to buy this book so you can read what really happened!
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Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission: The Real Story of the Bravo Two Zero Mission by Mike Coburn (Hardcover - 4 Mar 2004)