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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to educate, not entertain
First of all, I have to say that all the negative reviews that Urban receives here on Amazon are quite clearly coming from people who think they are purchasing a novel in the vain of Andy McNab; they are seeking entertainment, not education. And make no mistake, it is education that Urban provides here, and yet again as he has done before, he combines a journalistic...
Published on 9 Dec. 2011 by The Steed

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Well first of all I couldn't find anything 'explosive ' about journalist Mark Urban's very detailed account of Special Forces operations in Iraq. Unfortunately the books been written from the top down ie we get tons of info about all the politics , top Allied commanders , details on the numerous covert units and a history of all the bad guys in Iraq. What we don't get are...
Published on 21 Mar. 2011 by martin77


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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to educate, not entertain, 9 Dec. 2011
First of all, I have to say that all the negative reviews that Urban receives here on Amazon are quite clearly coming from people who think they are purchasing a novel in the vain of Andy McNab; they are seeking entertainment, not education. And make no mistake, it is education that Urban provides here, and yet again as he has done before, he combines a journalistic ability to expose what we knew little of before, and combine it with a broad picture analysis of the importance of these events to the wider story of Iraq.
I am ex-British Army, and currently writing my PhD on the use of intelligence, as well as researching on the use of special forces, and this book is one of the finest texts available to educate. This is because instead of glorifying gun battles and giving us nerdy details of the raids (Andy McNab has unfortunately corrupted the market in this regard) Urban instead details how the SAS operated throughout the Iraq campaign. We get all the detail you could want, tactical level details, through to operational intents, to campaign level strategic thinking. This is most important when hearing how the SAS were brought into the campaign design of General McChrystal. If you treat this book as an edification as to how contemporary counter-terrorist operations were conceived and operated with SOF execution, you will be nothing less than amazed. Incredible stuff, truly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dots all the i's crosses all the t's, 24 Jun. 2013
By 
Sean E. Nash "Smilindude" (UK- Manchester) - See all my reviews
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For someone who had a very negative view of the iraq war because of all the media activity i wanted to know what was really going on behind the scenes, and in particular what our boys were up to and why our involvement lasted so long... it was clear the British army were almost fighting with one hand behind their backs and after reading Tim Collins' account of his time there- which turned into a farce where he was scapegoated by someone to save face -(thankfully exonerated and given an OBE), I was left with even more questions. Mark Urban's book gave a broader account which showed how our special forces worked flat out to put a lid on the insurgency and sectarian conflict which ripped Iraq apart after the fall of Hussain....

The book is very detailed both on a strategic level, shows the respect our cousins the US special forces have for the SAS at the highest levels, but also makes the very complex social, political and cultural issues facing US/UK forces, which were compounded by the problems in the UK at a political level understandable... there are eye witness accounts of Special forces raids by some of the operators involved, and the involvement of the main characters behind the planning, Graeme Lamb, Stanley McChrystal and General Petraeus are highlighted and explained....

The book was throughly checked out by the MOD so there are no banana skins to worry about. It has been informative, easy to read and at times gripping and has tranformed my view of the Iraqi conflict and our role there in a big way.
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69 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book - Buy it, 20 Feb. 2010
By 
Douglas Newell (Ayrshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a superb book recounting the story of the SAS (and Delta Force's) secret war against Al Queda and the Shi'ite militias, many of whom were backed by Iran and their revolutionary Guards. The author of this book is a well respected BBC defence correspondent with multiple contacts in the military and who spent time as an embed (as he recounts in the book) with American forces around Baghdad. As such the author is well qualified to narrate this tale and in doing so provides a book that is well researched and authentic.

Be warned though, the author is also a well respected military historian (Big Boys Rules, Fusiliers, Rifles, etc) and while the book includes many stories of derring do, its primary role is to tell the history of this particularly nasty theatre of the Iraq War. In this way it is not a "kill and tell" adventure story like Bravo Two Zero or Sniper One.

The one surprise in this book, I found, was the author's pretty damning revelations about the "defeatism" which permeated certain sections of the British Army officer class, particularly senior officers, and which had a detrimental effect on UK relations with the US allies and with the prosecution of the conflict in Southern Iraq ... eventually culminating in what can only be called a Defeat for the UK.

I'm not sure why a previous reviewer gave this only 1 star and had a pop at the author, maybe he read a different book or maybe he has his own agenda in slagging it off, but rest assured he is wrong. This is a SUPERB book and I would thoroughly recommend it to both readers of the more "populist" books like Bravo Two Zero (it has lots of stories of SAS raids) and for those looking for a more distanced analytical review of the Iraq War (it traces the entire Iraq war, though concentrates on the years 2004 to 2007).

Buy this book, you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch, 21 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq (Kindle Edition)
This really is a first class book, analysing the tensions and conflicting demands imposed on the UK's special forces operating in Iraq. Urban writes with authority, balance and candour. The book is extremely well researched and provides extraordinary insights into the fascinating world of special ops. I cannot rate it highly enough. It should be required reading for all those attending staff college.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avidly pro-war but with decent, first-hand research, 31 Oct. 2010
By 
Tristan Martin (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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BBC journalist Mark Urban uses his contacts in the defence and intelligence establishment to give the reader of Task Force Black the inside track on what "Tier 1" Special Forces were doing in Iraq; whilst the front cover of the book specifically mentions the SAS, a good deal of the book concerns the United State's covert operators, Delta Force.

Urban's book certainly contains enough descriptions of door-kicking assaults, house raids, kidnaps and rescues to satisfy those who like to read about modern warfare but he spends an equal amount of time on military political manoeuvring and the concepts behind the strategies. So whilst we get first hand accounts of the rescue of British hostage Norman Kember and his Christian Peacemaker Team, or the killing of the leading fanatical Islamist Abu al-Zarqawi, we also get to learn about Major-General Stan McChrystal's concept of building networks, or of the Iraqi Awakening movement.

For those interested in the political dimension, Mark Urban uses much terminology of modern political discourse - the kind that seeks to make what is obvious, unclear and murder seem acceptable. When one hundred-plus American soldiers are killed in one month, the losses are referred to as "shockingly high"; when over fifty women and children are killed (not in one incident) this is referred to as merely "regrettable." As a consequence, Urban falls into the pro-war camp, promoting myths supportive of establishment objectives: al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) didn't exist until British and American forces invaded Iraq; the US-UK military presence attracted these fighters to Iraq, the consequence of which provided retroactive justification for why Western soldiers were waging the war in the first place. This kind of nonsense is given the facade of respectability by Mark Urban, a leading journalist who really should know better.

Readers who have learnt about the WikiLeaks revelations concerning the routine kidnap, extortion, torture and even murder committed by members of the Iraqi National Army and police and the lack of interest in this by British and American troops, will find some evidence in this book that supports these terrible events. "Concern" is expressed that British and American governments are arming and training Iraqi state forces who then brutalise their own people, is mentioned by Urban but not discussed at great length. There is, of course, substantial precedent for Western forces supporting state gangsters as a bulwark against the favoured bogeyman of the day, perhaps most extensively documented in the area of U.S. relations with Central America during the 1980s. All of this passes without too much concern by Urban because it is the price of building "stability" - again, more state-supporting dogma by a high priest of the secular religion that is mainstream journalism.

Task Force Black still gets a good review because Mark Urban does deliver on his promise to give us the goods about the "secret war in Iraq." As with many books on modern warfare, Mark Urban is perhaps just too close to his subject to get sufficient perspective on what is being committed in the cause of Western political objectives: the Iraqi bodycount, oil and state corruption are all brushed aside in favour of high technology, military acronyms and the proxy thrill of the 2am raid on a hostile target house ("alpha"), as doors are kicked in and rooms are "cleared."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book if you enjoy a Journalist approach to the narrative., 10 April 2014
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This review is from: Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq (Kindle Edition)
I think it's worth pointing out this has been written by a journalist so anyone looking for a first hand account a la McNab is going to probably be disappointed - that's not to say it's not a great read, but it's more inline with a Telegraph style account than a soldiers perspective.

I did enjoy a lot of the background information the book provided, and the author has done a great job of actually telling as much as possible when obviously due to National Security restrictions was probably limited as to what he could write.

It would have been nice to have a bit more detail on some of the individual missions, it felt a bit sometimes more like a history lesson than a good account of the actual operations, if that makes sense but I still think the author did a great job in the book for what it was and I enjoyed reading it. The quality of writing was very good and I felt I learned something from it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book - highly recommended!, 12 April 2010
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This book is exactly what I expected from such a distinguished journalist as Mark Urban: informative, in-depth, well researched, well written, and utterly gripping and enthralling.

Although the focal point is the covert work of the SAS in the guises of Task Force Black and then Task Force Knight, it also provides a very good overview of how this fits into the overall context of US special operations and the wider Coalition effort in post-invasion Iraq. If only Mark Urban would now write a similar book on special operations in Afghanistan ...

My only gripe, though admittedly an extremely tiny one, is that the cover of the book gives the impression that it's another run-of-the-mill book of personal recollections by a soldier/ex-soldier, which this most certainly is not!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq (Kindle Edition)
The book is very interesting and well written, with a lot of behind-the-scene information revealed for the fast time on record. A great insight into the work done by special forces in Iraq including (but not limited to) Delta force and the SAS. Do Not buy this book if you are looking for an action packed Andy Mcnab style book as you will not get it. If you are truly interested in the REAL work being done (not the Hollywood fantasy) by modern day special forces then this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 8 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq (Kindle Edition)
Another brilliantly researched piece of work , as I have come to expect from Mark Urban. For the serious reader, rather than those looking for an adventure story. Read in one sitting. I recommend.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Task Force Black, 30 May 2011
By 
Jeffrey Furgerson "Furgy62" (Chicago, Il) - See all my reviews
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This is a great read about what the Special forces of our allies do when supporting us.As a yank veteran of Iraq I am of course proud of our SF forces. The British SAS is however the premier Special Force in the world and pretty much sets the standard for the rest of us. Their exploits as part of Task force Black are the stuff of legend. When most of Iraq was sleeping the SAS was doing prisoner snatches, taking out high value targets and with their efforts greatly reducing the threat from VBieds. I salute General Mchrystal for his leadership and for understanding how the capabilities of the SAS could really change the course of the war. I have read alot about the exploits of our British allies in both Iraq and Afghanistan and am happy thay support us in our efforts. The value of the British experience from other conflicts can not be overstated. Their experience from Malay, Borneo and Oman are lessons we Americans could learn from the Brits in fighting counter-insurgents. Brilliant work by Mark Urban.
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