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Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan Paperback – 27 Oct 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 156 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (27 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164238
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 5.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Dead Men Risen dilutes the saccarine perception of soldiering and replaces it with the gritty and gruesome reality of war' Patrick Hennessey, author of The Junior Officer's Book Club. (Patrick Hennessey)

'Desperately moving ... Dead Men Risen is a serious work, far removed from the blood-and-thrills of the Bravo Two Zero school of military literary campaigning. Such books may grip but they do not engage. Harnden's does both' Spectator. (Spectator)

'So vividly rendered that one can almost smell the sweat, the cordite and the acrid scent of fear' Daily Mail. (Daily Mail)

'The best book so far on Britain's military adventure in Afghanistan ... Dead Men Risen will stand as a true, unsparing record of what happened there' Patrick Bishop, author of 3 PARA. (Patrick Bishop)

From the Inside Flap

This is the tale of the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. Underequipped and overstretched, guardsmen from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in Helmand in some of the most intense fighting by British troops for more than a generation. They were confronted by a Taliban enemy they seldom saw, facing the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush. Leading them into battle was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, destined for the highest ranks. He was a passionate believer in the war but was dismayed by how it was being conducted. Dead Men Risen will unnerve politicians and generals alike. In chilling detail, Toby Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw. Harnden, who had known Thorneloe since they met in Northern Ireland in 1996, was on the ground in Helmand with the Welsh Guards. He draws on a trove of military documents, including many written by Thorneloe, the first British battalion commander to die in action since the Falklands war of 1982. Major Sean Birchall left behind an unvarnished assessment of the shortcomings of the Afghan forces that represent Nato's exit strategy. Lieutenant Mark Evison wrote a diary that raises questions from beyond the grave. It was more than half a century since a British battalion had lost officers at these three key levels of leadership. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared. A visceral and timeless account of men at war, Dead Men Risen conveys what it is like to be a soldier who has to kill, face paralysing fear and watch comrades perish in agony. Given unprecedented access to the Welsh Guards, Harnden conducted more than 300 interviews in Afghanistan, England and Wales. From the searing heat of the poppy fields and mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home, the reader is transported there. Harnden weaves the experiences of the guardsmen and their loved ones into an unsparing narrative that sits alongside a piercing analysis of military strategy.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan

After all the hype and furore surrounding this book, I was worried that this book would not live up to it's infamy. I was also worried, that the now famous buy and burn incident, would rip the heart out of the book and this would be just another military biography/account, of which there are plenty on the market. This is not the case.

Dead Men Risen has lived up to the hype. Written in an honest and easy to read manner, this book has something for everyone. If you want an honest and moving account of the war in Afghanistan, the life of a soldier or even if it is to revel in the fact that in all probability the MOD do not want you to read it, then this is the book for you.

I may be biased (my names in the book), but this is truly the best military book I have read. The first book I have read that really puts the soldiers story across in a way that they would be proud of. It does the armed forces and the Welsh Guards battalion in particular the justice it deserves.

In the space of a few pages this story will have you laughing, crying and shaking your head in anger. Whether or not you agree with the politics surrounding the war in Afghanistan, or you have no knowledge of the subject matter contained in it. This book makes up for it in abundance with the pure heartfelt emotions you will feel for the soldiers involved, and will be enlightened by the accurate but easy to understand information contained.

All credit to the author, who obviously did his research, for the entertaining and informative way that it is written. I love this book and I would recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone living with the after effects of the tour - my son was critically injured by an IED explosion - I thought this was an excellent (if difficult) read.
Toby pulls no punches in his narrative. The MOD should hang their heads in shame. Under resourced and poorly equipped The Guards were up against it. Their spirit and determination shine through and the humour is palpable.
People asked me didn't I get angry when my son was injured? At the time I was just incredibly thankful he was still with us, now reading the catalogue of failings and complete ineptitude of the "top brass" I am feeling anger. Anger on behalf of the families of those who didn't make it back, they lost so much and their lives changed forever, and on a lessor scale, anger for those (and there are many), like my son, whose lives and future will be such an ongoing struggle.

MOD - read and be shamed by your penny pinching, your internal politics, and your incompetance in managing scarce resources. Resources, I might add, that would have saved lives. Lt Colonel Thornaloe was right to criticise the lack of helicopters. The low metal content IED's put every single soldier at risk on a daily basis. Resupply missions by road, based on the IED threat? Justify that if you can.

Everyone else - read and understand our troops are truly outstanding.

Yes it is their job, but think back to BA cabin crew striking over their terms and conditions. The Welsh Guards, and every other soldier out in Helmand, show outstanding fortitude and bravery in difficult conditions whilst coping with appalling resources. I for one am incredibly proud of you all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazing read. Makes you very very proud of the armed forces and equaly angry at the way they are not properly supported. Actually a very important book that should initiate discussion and outrage.

Many individual stories of heroism and brutal sacrifice written simply without embellishment.

Leaves you with the feeling that political expediancy and budget considerations continualy rate higher than the safety of the troops.I have to believe that if ever the government disclosed the real numbers of wounded the British people would demand that our troops be given the resources they need to give them the best possible chances of not being injured, particularly more helicopters. Every page seems to have an incident of maiming by IED that could probably have been avoided if more troops were moved around by chopper.A deeply disturbing read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This powerful account of the Welsh Guards' six month-deployment in Helmand Province in the summer of 2009 does not address its greatest irony: part of their campaign coincided with the period between the submission of General McChrystal's strategic recommendations on 30 August and President Obama's announcement of his response on 1 December, three months when NATO strategy was essentially in limbo. So these men were fighting and dying at a time when there was no clear purpose in the direction of the war at the highest level. However, the book's power lies in the fact that Harnden avoids any hint of polemic. Instead, he lets facts speak for themselves. He brings three sets of skills to his work. First and foremost, he is a journalist, with a keen instinct for a story: he has persuaded a lot of very different people to talk with a frankness that is unusual in the professional military. He is also a historian, using wide background reading to put the campaign in context. Finally, he has an ability to describe events and sketch characters in a few well chosen words that a novelist might envy. It is only the thought that one would not want to trivialise the suffering and sacrifice of real people, or show any hint of disrespect, that suppresses one's immediate reaction that there is the material for a great feature film here. On the other hand, perhaps a film would be a worthy tribute, because the courage and sacrifice of these men deserves to be better known, and because the public needs to be educated about what has been going on their name in Afghanistan. It is the personalities that make this book memorable.Read more ›
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