7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Almost 5 stars...,
This review is from: Operation Certain Death (Paperback)
Damien Lewis is a very good narrator of non-fiction war stories. This is an extremely interesting account of the situation in Sierra Leone, the events leading to and during the kidnap, the planning and the execution of the rescue. The aftermath is also examined including an analysis of the legitimacy of private military companies (mercenaries, in other words) to keep the peace in Africa. This represents the bulk of the book and makes it worth buying for this alone.
However, where the book falls down a bit is the fictionalised accounts of the day to day lives of the rescuing soldiers and the inter-hostage banter. Talented as Lewis is at writing about and commenting on real events, he struggles badly at recreating the atmosphere and camaraderie of being a soldier, either in leisure or about to be sent into difficult situations. Scenes which are, presumably, supposed to show them as tough-but-cheeky chappies are frankly embarrassing. The firing range scene, the coke bottle bombs etc. The dialogue is clichéd and wooden (and written phonetically, except where officers are involved, in a bad attempt to recreate Glaswegian, cockney or Belfast accents). Speaking as a former British soldier, I just hope that people reading this recognises that the author is just plain terrible at this sort of writing and the British army isn’t really composed of such apparent nerds. The somewhat cringe-making title of the book should give you a measure of the fiction aspect of this book.
However, that is a small part of an otherwise excellent book. More than three quarters of this book is worth five stars.