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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Horse's Mouth.
Having not expected too much from this tome when it dropped out of my Xmas goodie bag I ended up being pleasantly surprised by it. It wasn't what I had expected. I expected a one sided commentary style narrative by an ex-soldier turned mercenary who was only in Sierra Leone for 6 months or so but instead got the inside story from a man who was there pre and post coup as...
Published on 5 Jan 2012 by hazzers

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2.0 out of 5 stars This book is not about F.Marafono
This book was supposed to be the biography of Fred Marafono. It isn't. At all. It is really an account, quite detailed at that, of the Sierra Leone's recent history. With a little Fred Marafono in it. But only a little. And nothing about his SAS past. There is far more (and more substantial) information about Chief Norman and Peter Penfold than Fred. So, if you're into...
Published 10 days ago by customer


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Horse's Mouth., 5 Jan 2012
This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
Having not expected too much from this tome when it dropped out of my Xmas goodie bag I ended up being pleasantly surprised by it. It wasn't what I had expected. I expected a one sided commentary style narrative by an ex-soldier turned mercenary who was only in Sierra Leone for 6 months or so but instead got the inside story from a man who was there pre and post coup as well as being an individual who, having outgrown and surpassed his original role as a paid member of a private security firm, stayed and played his part admirably, together with amazing characters like Juba the South African chopper pilot, during the toughest fighting the country saw. And who proved himself to be an invaluable cog in the slim mechanism that helped to prevent the collapse of Freetown and, God only know what, apocalyptic scenes that that would have brought. The testament of men like Chief Hinga Norman, Sir Peter Penfold and many others to Fred's courage and dedication is impressive. Equally impressive is his honesty and candour which seems to be without ego. I have found that that rare quality is almost always one held by members of the Special Forces rather than those who never quite made the grade. Easy to understand why the British Military hierarchy specifically requested Fred and his colleagues assistance with the UK government sanctioned Op Barras in 2000, the joint Special Forces and Para operation to rescue the Royal Irish Regiment soldiers captured by the West Side Boys, an operation which brought the belated intervention of the British government and helped finally restore lasting stability to the region.
Fred's ridiculously impressive memory, aided by what appear to be meticulous contemporary diary notes means that although, as with any, it is story told through his eyes, via the clean and insightful pen of the excellent Hamish Ross, his recollections are backed up by an impressive regurgitation of facts in the form of dates, timings and cross references that make the mind boggle. In fact, my only real criticism is that for a good old fashioned military tale sucker like me the book is almost too factual at times.
Often I have wondered if important global conflicts hinged on the decisions individuals made by virtue of their character and whims rather than through the weight of a popular consensus or reasonable deductive thought. Reading Fred's recollections I realise it happens more often than one might believe, especially in the developing world. Did anyone outside of Sierra Leone for example even realise that the coup (against an elected government) actually started initially as a junior officer's revolt against rice rationing and was not in the slightest bit political or idealist? What is truly shameful though was the failure of Western powers to act until the situation in this part of West Africa threatened not just an innocent population but their own interests. Thank God for men like Fred Marafono who bridged that gap in the meantime and prevented total chaos and bloodshed. Don't expect Bravo Two Zero but if you want what must be as close to an account of what 'real war' must be like, buy this book. It is a book historians will turn to in years to come when they want to make sense of the mess that was Sierra Leone during that period.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This book is not about F.Marafono, 16 Dec 2014
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This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
This book was supposed to be the biography of Fred Marafono. It isn't. At all. It is really an account, quite detailed at that, of the Sierra Leone's recent history. With a little Fred Marafono in it. But only a little. And nothing about his SAS past. There is far more (and more substantial) information about Chief Norman and Peter Penfold than Fred. So, if you're into the history of that area and/or some African or British political backstabbing, this is the book for you. If you're after Fred's biography, better look elsewhere. For what it is, it is fairly ok written - but could be better (say without the typo errors).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DILIGENT AND FACTUAL, 20 Dec 2011
This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
I have read a number of books by Hamish Ross and found them all to be factual and well written. I have also been a guest at the Special Forces Club in London when he spoke about Paddy Mayne prior to the publication of the book. Hamish Ross is a diligent and softly spoken Scotsman who spent hours sorting through old SAS and Mayne Family records to unearth some new and interesting angles. He spoke clearly and with impressive detail. The Mayne family were equally impressed with the results.

With this book Hamish has the advantage of Fred still being alive and sound of mind, a bonus when trying to eek out the facts of recent military history.
Fred is an SAS legend and was involved in Operation Barras in Sierra Leone.

I think these two men have no axe to grind or no point to prove.

It is simply a factual and historical record on an extraordinary man in a little known profession and I would recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I knew some of the companies., 3 Dec 2011
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This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
As my title suggests. There are various security outfits mentioned that I have been on the outer sphere of with my work in Central and East Africa. As a book and story, not bad and it has the right emphasis as to who the bad guys are/were. I do have an objection. Why is the SAS badge on the cover? They are not really a part of the plot within the book at all except that the main character had served in the Regiment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
Fred and Peter Penfold deserve medals for what they did for the people of Sierra Leone. Both were good men in Africa.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as expected, 16 April 2013
1. Don't buy this via kindle. The formatting is not set up and makes it difficult to follow.
2. Whilst the storyline is meant to cover the role of Fred, in reality, it covers the battle for Sierra Leone. The work of the co-author is not detailed in the way expected if you are seeking a bravo two zero style tale. This is more a story of betrayal, incompetence and greed by governments and those seeking self serving interests. It does tell the stories of true hero's but that's not what the title suggests as these are not Fred but Ninga and Penfold.
3. Overall I was disappointed with the writing style and content as it failed to tell me much about the purported subject. It did however cover the chicanery relating to Sierra Leone very well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Poor memorial to a great soldier, 9 Feb 2013
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This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
As a soldier who knows Sierra Leone well (having served there for 2.5 years) and knowing many of the characters in this story, I was much looking forward to this read. It's a great story, but what a shame that it's so poorly written - not Fred's stuff, which is taken directly from contemporaneous notes, but Mr Ross' overall narrative; it's clunky, the style seems to change as if written by numerous authors and the proof-reading was done by a chimp. Fred deserved better!
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5.0 out of 5 stars As shown above., 3 Jan 2013
This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
Excellent read about a man who served in my old regiment before joining the SAS.
A legend throughout his career.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate SAS legend, 11 May 2012
This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
This is the only book in the world about SAS legend Fred Marafono. Fred worked with the original founder of the SAS David Stirling and has a incredible amount of operational experience. After the forces he worked in Sierra Leone for Simon Manns Executive Outcomes and supported his old regiment as the prime helicopter gunship gunner when the SAS launched their incredible hostage rescue operation deep in the jungle. I have read a number of Hamish Ross's books. His research and precision is always second to none. I know for a fact that his biography on Paddy Mayne was extremely well received by the SAS who invited Hamish Ross to their base after publication. I recommend 'Freedom in the Air' which remains my favourite of Ross's books.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop Waffling, 20 Dec 2011
This review is from: From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars (Hardcover)
An excellent, well researched and enlightening book which draws a thread between the exhilarating life of the mercenary on the side of right and the strategic games and goings on that put him there. Auld Yin's comments are so ill informed that they barely merit comment but it's Hinga and EO stands for Executive Outcomes. No EO aren't quite Richard Harris' noble mercenary fighting for Julius Limbani but anyone going up against the RUF is de facto in the right. Please don't be put off by this ridiculous biter commentary and buy the book.
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From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars
From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars by Fred Marafono (Hardcover - 19 May 2011)
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