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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2006
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is simply written and keeps the interest of the reader from start to finish. Frank's adventures catch the imagination chapter after chapter.

The main body of the book tells the reader about Frank's career in banking centred on the Middle East and Frank's degree in Arab studies. Reading the book you find Frank is looking for a far more exciting career, one centred on journalism. It is this desire to enter journalism that leads to the final chapters. These chapters reveal the shooting of Frank and his cameraman Simon Cumbers and the amazing recovery of Frank.

The story is compelling and exposes the futile waste of a mans life and the near loss of Frank's life too. Frank makes the point that he has no real belief in a God. Yet he was disappointed when he greeted his killer with the words "and upon you the peace and the mercy of God and his blessings." A strange phrase for a non believer to use!

However, despite all the odds Frank survived thanks to some amazing good luck and maybe some "unknown" intervention. It this survival that makes the reader feel as though they are reliving the ordeal, the shooting and the months of recover. It exposes Franks desire to cling onto life and to be able to continue being part of the life of his children and his wife Amanda, despite his disability.

I think anyone who reads this book will agree that it is a fascinating and moving story. Overall, well worth buying.
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on 20 June 2006
Frank Gardner describes what every young man would have liked to do in his twenties and thirties (except getting shot). His spirit of adventure, his travels in the Middle East , his emersion in the culture gave him a better insight into that part of the world than some of the best available academic studies. Living with an Egyptian family in a poor neighborhood of old Cairo, spending many days traveling the desert with a Bedu tribe in Wdai Rumm in Jordan, jetting around the Middle East during the boom years of the eighties and nineties makes fascinating reading. His work as a correspondent which landed him in a situation of becoming a target for extremists assassins who left him almost dead did not seem to have changed his mind about the people and the culture he loved.
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on 7 August 2007
Like most people I had seen Frank Gardner on the BBC reporting on Middle East issues and had never though to much about it till after he was attacked. This fascinating book shows the growth of Gardner's interest and love for the Arabic world. It tells us of his student days in Egypt, and his travel to Yemen and the Sudan, and guides us through his life as he takes his first steps in finance and ultimately journalism. Where this book really comes into its own though it to highlight the physical and mental trauma Gardner faced as he fought for survival and recovery from potentially fatal gunshot wounds. I found most of this section incredibly moving, but their were also lighthearted sections that made me smile - his daughters with bedpans on their heads is an amazing visual. What struck me most though is the sheer determination that he has shown throughout his recovery and subsequently on his return to work as the BBC's security correspondant. He clearly has amazing inner strength to have coped with something so terrible and to have in some senses came out at the other end. A must read for anyone interested in Middle East politics and for any one he wants to read about a truly inspirational person!
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2007
I took this book on holiday to Egypt and it made the trip all the more interesting. To see some of the actual places that Frank writes about made his story come alive for me. This is a well written memoir that reflects the author's love of the Middle East even after the agonies he has personally suffered. It must be said that the area has rewarded him handsomely both in his banking and subsequent journalistic careers but his affection for the people is clearly genuine and shines through. If you want to find out more about the politics and customs of the Middle East but don't want a heavy history book, this is a gentle read that achieves the same.

You will not find a better value read than Amazon's £3.99 so snap it up!
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Frank Gardner, the BBC's Security Correspondent has come through the horror of his colleague Simon Cumber's death and his own paralysis still playing an important role in interpreting the on going terrorist threat for the viewing public and putting into perspective his long-standing love affair with all things arabic.

I suspect that the healing process, after he was gunned down by Al Qaeda Terrorists on a Saudi Street Corner,will not be over yet, even though he has undergone extensive surgery and rehabilitation: That he has been able to forge his thoughts into this book shows that the terrorist can never silence the journalist's natural expression- words.

Gardner is an amiable and eloquent writer, quite understated about his life and giving off the air of the archetypal englishman abroad. However,some of the episodes mark him out as a little more adventurous than might have at first been presented: I can't, for example, think of many people who would choose to learn their spoken arabic in a Cairo slum- but Gardner did, and seemed to enter wholeheartedly into the life of his adopted surroundings.

As befits a BBC journalist, he has a keen eye for both the atmosphere and the politics of the Middle East, though there is a necessary air of detachment- probably borne of freelance travel writing earlier in his career.

The tone regarding his own injuries and re-building is exactly right: any more detail and I would have found his candidness uncomfortable; any more restraint and I would have urged him to grasp the nettle more firmly (I know, the poor man couldn't win!).

I have not, however, given this book the highest rating largely because I expected more from it. It is undoubtedly a good 'read', yet I came away from it wanting him to delve deeper into the arabist conundrum: perhaps that's another book? As far as this autobiography goes it does what such writing should do- leaves us with a clearer picture of the man, and for that I'm grateful.
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2006
Frank Gardner's excellent memoir is a breed apart from those written by many other famous faces from the TV, who all too often seem to decide to "do a book" because they know it will sell. Since I knew only about his shooting, I was a little worried this book might just be a celebrity tear-jerker. But I needn't have worried. Frank has an amazing story to tell, and he tells it amazingly well. Although he has suffered terribly and his colleague was killed, he is brave enough and positive enough to write in a balanced, intelligent and detailed way. But the book's power is not limited to the gripping and graphic passage in which he is gunned down, or for the wincingly painful rehabilitation.

His portrait of the Arab world is a much fuller than the picture we get from a barrage of headlines about war and terrorism. And his description of finding himself paralysed helped this upright reader at least to understand how it must feel to be suddenly wheelchair-bound. For that, and much more in this book, I am grateful to him for having the courage to write.
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on 26 March 2007
It is rare that I can read a book of this length in under a week. But I did - one of the best written autobiographies I have had the pleasure of reading. I didn't really want to stop to put this book down. I have to say that at times I really felt for the author, and at times I felt quite passionate about the scenarios he went through. Without a doubt, a recommendation to everyone.
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on 16 May 2007
Blood and Sand illuminates the Arab world and the Middle East like no other I have read in recent years. Gardner's passion for the backstreets of Egypt and cheap student excursions to Yemen and other places really draw the reader into the story.

The biography explains Gardner's student years at Exeter University where he read Arabic studies, his time in the Arab world during the course, his time as a banker in the Gulf, and his subsequent move into journalism when his life changed after being attacked in Saudi Arabia by what can only be described as terrorists.

This is exciting reading in itself, but Gardner's personality and his love for the countries he visits, including Saudi Arabia where he almost died, stand out greatly. One feels the sounds and smells of the places he describes - for someone who has spent much time in the Middle East I felt as if I was there in the story with him.

The biography ends with Gardner in his new role as BBC Security Correpsondent in what is a relatively new life in London, having spent so much time abroad. But one gets the impression that this is the beginning of a new life in a job for which he is truly passionate.
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on 31 March 2007
This book was a fascinating and compelling read from the first to the last page. I admire Frank Gardner for being able to share not only his travels with the reader but also his personal and very traumatic ordeal. I highly recommend this book.
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on 11 January 2008
Rarely have I found a book so interesting, so compelling and so topical. Franks Gardner's account of his adult life was a real page turner. It gave me a wonderful insight into places I am not quite brave enough to visit and a culture that is often misrepresented in the media. All this is packed in a beautifully written biography. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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