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on 21 April 2006
This is a remarkable book: surely the most thorough analysis of the Falklands campaign, combined with a strong element of polemic. Hugh Bicheno is extremely even-handed in his description of the events of the war, giving credit and criticism where due to both sides, but he does not pretend to be impartial as to which set of combatants had right on their side. Argentina was a fascist state, in which the military was driven by extreme nationalism, but tortured and murdered those whose views differed only in terms of nuance. Similarly, the regime professed a devotion to Roman Catholicism, thereby winning support from elements in France, Belgium, Italy and elsewhere, but this supposed piety did not draw the line at throwing nuns out of aircraft. The readiness of the Foreign Office to hand over British subjects to such a regime inspires contempt. Bicheno raises the interesting point of the former Foreign Office minister, who announced in Parliament that British Intelligence could read Argentina's codes. He puts this down to stupidity, but elsewhere wonders how far elements in Whitehall and the BBC deliberately sought to undermine the British forces, with the aim thereby of forcing a change of government in Great Britain. As far as the actual fighting is concerned, it is hard to see how this book can be bettered. Myths grew up on both sides after the war, although the subsequent career trajectories of certain British officers showed that some correct lessons had been learned. Bicheno quotes the exasperation of a Royal Marine, fed up with the widespread acceptance of the idea that the land war was a pushover. If you think that, you should definitely read this book. Not only does it show, again and again, what a terrible place a battlefield is, but the author also enumerates the alarmingly long list of points at which slightly different actions on the part of the Argentine defenders might have had disastrous consequences for the British. It is salutary to realise that the Sea Harrier aircraft that were so vital to British success in the Falklands have just now been prematurely withdrawn from service, with nothing lined up to replace them for years to come. The only thing to prevent a repeat of 1982's aggression by Argentina is the fact that her armed forces are even more enfeebled than our own. Yet the same irrational mentality holds sway, Bicheno observes, under nominally democratic regimes in Buenos Aires as under overtly totalitarian ones.
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on 3 April 2007
One mans view of The Falklands Conflict - with a useful insight into the shadowy world of the Argentine Junta and why they couldn't believe 'that woman' would make war on them. Useful 'in the footsteps of' analysis of decisive actions in the war and uninhibited criticism of the 'so called' great and good.This jaded reader was impressed with the arguments mustered - even though not agreeing 100% (95% perhaps).
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on 25 August 2008
A refreshing new approach to the war that not only clarifies the action with research on site, but also crucially gives the background to the war with insight based on experience as a spanish speaking foreign office staffer in Latin America over a number of years.
It's damning conclusions on British foreign policy are second only to it's revulsion to the facist Argentine military regime.
This anti-facist stance does not seem to have won the support of those giving one star reviews however! Perhaps they are too right wing? I suspect the opposite to be true. Reviews from argentine sources predictably belong to the fantasy section, fittingly for a nation wedded to magical realism in literature.
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on 2 June 2010
by the title or the picture. This is a fantastic and ascerbic independent history of the war. Sadly much of what passes for history today is still following other agendas - this book is clearly its own master and all the better for it. Well written; challenging; often insightful in ways no other English history has been. It would be unfair to categorise it as either left or right wing - I personally agree with the author that this split is redundant now in any event. Truly - if you only read one book on the Falklands - make it this one.
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on 29 February 2016
For anyone who lived through the Falklands War,it's aftermath and the stream of TV documentaries on the 10th,20th......anniversary, you'd think it was impossible to say anything new.
Bicheno disagrees.He's bilingual in Spanish and English, and did ground research in the Falklands, tracing the route of both British and Argentine troops.His basic thesis is that the politicisation of the Argentinian armed forces since the 1930's,accelerated dramatically since the Dirty War from 1976 onwards, made them unfit to fight against trained troops who were prepared to shoot back.
However,his high Toryism (or Thatcher-worshipping) make some of this laughable. The usual right-wing view that the BBC is a den of traitors is half-expected, his hatred of anyone who disagrees with Thatcher (Michael Foot excepted, for some strange reason) is simply ludicrous.
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on 8 May 2007
There have been lots of books on the Falklands War and I read Max Hastings book shortly after 1982 and not much since. Hugh Bicheno writes in a thorough, engaging style which puts the conflict in context and simply states that it was a war against the facist protaganists of the Dirty War. The British reaction was not expected and that they eventually prevailed was a result of muddling through better than the Argentinians.

The level of detail and factual context is excellent with some excellent research. All-in-all, one of the best military history books I have read.
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on 21 August 2007
This book is a must if you want to learn more about the Falklands war. Its strength is its even handedness based on masses of well founded research. It does well to put aside the sacred cows and myths of politically correct post war criticism. It exposes both sides for their degrees of resolve and ineptitude. It confirms that war is a brutal and damaging business. Hugh Bicheno's style is engaging and the book is idifficult to put down. In conclusion he confirms that the British who had right on their side were stung into action by the machismo display of a corrupt and poisonous regime. The best men won, the ferocious SNCOs and other ranks of the British ground forces whose resourceful leadership, training and courage carried the day. One is left thinking, as one did at the time, that was close!!
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on 24 September 2009
The thorough and careful research of the subject makes this book an authoritative record of the political build up to the actual fighting campaign of the Falklands/Malvinas War. The first four chapters are a complete manifestation of the complexities of Argentinian politics.

An excellent work that will become a reference text book for students.
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on 9 February 2007
Bicheno writes about the Falklands combining a reassuringly fresh outspokeness, whilst at the same time remaining surprisingly objective. His criticisms of the Argentine Junta is as strong as those he reserves for the British establishment. His style will take a bit of getting used to for those used to more traditional accounts, but the fact that the author has taken the time to visit and describe the scenes of the bloody conflict of 1982 emphasises his passion about his subject. As a bi-lingual author, he is able to make the best of his skills by consulting various Spanish-language primary and secondary sources in addition to the regular English-speaking ones, which puts him in a clear lead against most other authors.
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on 28 March 2009
Don't buy this book expecting a detailed history of all aspects of the war - this book concentrates in some detail on the ground engagements, and only mentions the naval and air wars in passing, mostly where it directly affects events on the ground (but often proves more enlightening in a few sentences than some other books manage in a whole chapter).

Despite a cover that might lead you into thinking this is some sort of anti-British account, the author is extremely even-handed about the actions on the battlefields, and does not gloss over a few unpleasant actions on both sides. He is at his entertaining best when railing against the idiots in charge within the UK military and government, and the nazis - yes nazis - in charge in Argentina (who are roasted time and time again).

I found it a real eye opener on the background within Argentina that led to this war, and the accounts of battles (down to details such as which bunker a particular soldier was killed in) are best followed with a copy of the included maps open while you are reading, and lead you to a new respect for the conditions and terrain the troops had to fight through.

The 1 star reviews would indicate the author has a made some enemies - given his uncompromising writing style, it is not surprising and I imagine he raised a smile when he saw those 'reviews'.
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