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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2004
I knew very little of the events surrounding the British deployment to Sierra Leone. I couldn't have pointed to it on a map, save to say it was in Africa. Having read this book, I now feel that I know a hell of a lot more about the subject. Anyone who's read OPERATION CERTAIN DEATH by Damien Lewis may be slightly put off by this books more in depth look at the politics and international viewpoints, but these really flesh out the conflict and subsequent hostage rescue story. Not as fast paced or testosterone heavy as Lewis's book, but these are clearly books written in totally different styles for different audiences. The title is a little misleading, as although the rescue is a theme of the book, the overall story is of the savage conflict, and the pathetic (and often hypocritical) international (i.e UN) response.
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on 3 March 2005
This is a well written and well researched book, however coverage of the actual op only begins about 120 pages in and only lasts about a further 30 or 40. The book should be called something like "A History of Conflict in Sierra Leone" as there is barely a chapter dedicated to the op itself. Hugely disappointing.
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on 12 July 2004
I'll begin with a declaration - the author is a friend and former colleague. As such this book's style was not a surprise for, in addition to being as thorough an account of how Major Harrison and his men were rescued as may be published in an unclassified format, Officer Fowler has gone back through history to explain Sierre Leone's history and development and exactly how, and to a degree why, the "West Side Boys" kidnapped "our lads".
The history unfolds and previous recent British involvement in Sierre Leone is described and, logically, we find ourselves within the hut with the captives. The efforts of the diplomats and UN forces to deal with the situation ahead of the arrival of the British rescue force and the setting-up of the operation are all described, together with as full an account of the actual rescue and its aftermath as can be told at present.
Officer Fowler has secured good sources and researched the background thoroughly, yet his account is full of the personal comments and observations one might expect from a military man.
The tale of the Army's reaction to the arrival of RAF Police 'to check for contraband' before boarding their Hercules transport home is but one example. It rang true and made me laugh.
There is some more detail to be added I know (as does the author - hence only 4 Stars!) but, for now, this is probably the best account I have seen of the incident. Try it - you won't be disappointed.
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on 1 July 2005
I'm not affliated in any way shape or form to any of the armed forces. I'm just your average joe who is curious as to what happened in Operation Barras.
In that respect, I was very disappointed to find that most of the book is spent everything but the actual operation itself.
I found the book quite difficult to read and not at all entertaining.
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on 5 January 2009
This is a brilliant book - I read it in a matter of hours. The title is misleading, as Operation Barras only forms the framework of the book. Most of the text deals with the politics and history of Sierra Leone, the civil wars and the international reaction to them.

The sections dealing actually with Barras are balanced, sensible and matter of fact, without any of the hype that often surrounds Special Forces operations (shame about the sub-title...). Over all the book deals with the operation in the best possible way, with the facts of the case, well supported by the testimony of those who were there, but set within it's historical and political context. The author, in a very readable style, sets out not only what happened, but why, and how it is important.

Thoroughly recommended.
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on 2 March 2010
This book is heavy on military strategy before you actually get to the rescue mission. This is, however quite useful to help you understand the background to the civil war in Sierra Leone and the different factions involved. I read the book whilst I was there and spoke to many people who witnessed military action at first hand. There is much explicit detail of the savagery executed by the rebels, so you need a pretty strong stomach. But it is an excellent account of recent African history.
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on 7 April 2016
a good history of Sierra Leone but the title should reflect the book, it does not in this case. operation barras does not feature very much in over half this book.
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on 6 January 2013
Good read, but slow to start. It provides good back ground info if you know nothing about the civil war in Sierra Leone.
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