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From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars Hardcover – 19 May 2011
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"By so eloquently telling the story of Fred Marafono and his kinship with the principal defender of Sierra Leone, Sam Hinga Norman, Hamish Ross has told our story and the story of the “Land that we love, our Sierra Leone”. It may well be the first and perhaps only detailed account of the war from the points of view of those who fought on the side of the people and government of Sierra Leone. The book is as inspiring as it is informative. It leaves us with the question we have all asked ourselves over and over: What if? What if there had been no Fred Marafono, no Peter Penfold, no Hinga Norman? Would there be today a place called Sierra Leone?" -- Alfred Munda SamForay, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
"Hamish Ross’s excellent book, ‘From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars’, reveals the exploits of Kauata ‘Fred’ Marafono, the Fijian ex-SAS soldier who became involved in the 11year rebel war in Sierra Leone. In the SAS one talks of ‘crossing the river’ for someone. Throughout his time in Sierra Leone, Fred Marafono established a close bond with Sam Hinga Norman. He was someone Fred crossed the river for and Hamish Ross’s book is as much about Sam Norman as it is about Fred Marafono." -- Peter Penfold Former British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone.See all Product description
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Fred's ridiculously impressive memory, aided by what appear to be meticulous contemporary diary notes means that although, as with any, it is story told through his eyes, via the clean and insightful pen of the excellent Hamish Ross, his recollections are backed up by an impressive regurgitation of facts in the form of dates, timings and cross references that make the mind boggle. In fact, my only real criticism is that for a good old fashioned military tale sucker like me the book is almost too factual at times.
Often I have wondered if important global conflicts hinged on the decisions individuals made by virtue of their character and whims rather than through the weight of a popular consensus or reasonable deductive thought. Reading Fred's recollections I realise it happens more often than one might believe, especially in the developing world. Did anyone outside of Sierra Leone for example even realise that the coup (against an elected government) actually started initially as a junior officer's revolt against rice rationing and was not in the slightest bit political or idealist? What is truly shameful though was the failure of Western powers to act until the situation in this part of West Africa threatened not just an innocent population but their own interests. Thank God for men like Fred Marafono who bridged that gap in the meantime and prevented total chaos and bloodshed. Don't expect Bravo Two Zero but if you want what must be as close to an account of what 'real war' must be like, buy this book. It is a book historians will turn to in years to come when they want to make sense of the mess that was Sierra Leone during that period.
2. Whilst the storyline is meant to cover the role of Fred, in reality, it covers the battle for Sierra Leone. The work of the co-author is not detailed in the way expected if you are seeking a bravo two zero style tale. This is more a story of betrayal, incompetence and greed by governments and those seeking self serving interests. It does tell the stories of true hero's but that's not what the title suggests as these are not Fred but Ninga and Penfold.
3. Overall I was disappointed with the writing style and content as it failed to tell me much about the purported subject. It did however cover the chicanery relating to Sierra Leone very well.
With this book Hamish has the advantage of Fred still being alive and sound of mind, a bonus when trying to eek out the facts of recent military history.
Fred is an SAS legend and was involved in Operation Barras in Sierra Leone.
I think these two men have no axe to grind or no point to prove.
It is simply a factual and historical record on an extraordinary man in a little known profession and I would recommend it to anyone.
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A legend throughout his career.