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Unsensational and not afraid to recount the repetition of war, this is a journalistic account of a tour of Afghanistan. Stories of bravery, endurance and tight-knit comradeship sit at the centre of the book, with comments coming from the words of the soldiers themselves.

It's a little difficut to get much sense of personality here, with only brief potted biographies often after someone is killed. That's a minor niggle, though - well worth reading for the reality and detail behind the headlines on modern war.
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on 6 August 2017
Good read from start to finish the above said it all 5 stars
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It was April 2006 and 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (3 Para) Battle Group were deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan for a 6 month tour of duty. What they were expecting to encounter and what they found on arrival were entirely different things. The pre-deployment intelligence suggested the tour was likely to pass without a shot being fired whilst they concentrated on a task which required them to provide security for a reconstruction programme.

Six months later, the Battle Group returned home having fought one continuous battle after another during which they defeated the Taliban within Helmand Province. That military success did not, however, come without a price. 18 Officers and men died during the tour after another two had lost their lives in preliminary operations.

It is many years since I served with 3 Para and I well remember the stories of both Sergeant Willetts who saved many lives in Northern Ireland for which he was awarded a posthumous GC in the 1970s and, in 1982, Sergeant Ian McKay who was awarded the last VC of the 20th Century. Now, in just 6 months in 2006, 3 Para had added yet another VC and another GC in addition to many other honours and awards to their illustrious Battalion and Regimental history.

Written by a professional foreign correspondent who was given access to all the information and personal stories required to create this significant, and important, work of literature about a series of modern military actions, Patrick Bishop has done an excellent job in providing an informative and readable account of exactly what happened.

This is what our forces are doing in Afghanistan. Doubtless, in many ways, it will be similar to what our forces are doing in Iraq. It is, therefore, a book which should be read by everyone with an interest in the world at war - today.

As a postscript (and not part of the book itself), readers will be interested to know that the Commanding Officer of 3 Para Battle Group - Lt Colonel Stuart Tootal DSO OBE (the DSO being awarded for his outstanding service in Afghanistan) resigned in November 2007 after attacking the Ministry of Defence over "poor pay for soldiers, lack of equipment, the standard of army housing and poor medical treatment afforded to his injured soldiers."

Unlike their comrades from the USA, when the modern British Army has finished with its soldiers - they really are finished with them.

NM
British Army major (Retired)
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3 PARA is an old fashioned book about a close-knit regiment, the author clearly admires the Toms and enjoys telling the classic British army tale (the boys are holed up without adequate numbers and ammunition fighting a savage enemy - and that's just the Americans). It is not a book for those who despair of war, although it doesn't hold back the details of deaths in action.

I enjoyed it.
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on 14 November 2009
Military reportage has a long history, extending at least as far back as Julius Caesar's Gallic War, still read today. Since that time, while not every writer has had the rank of a Caesar, most writers or memoirists have held high rank. Admirals, Field-Marshals and general-officers of all services and nations still pen their accounts of battle. The accounts of lesser officers and or ordinary or private soldiers have only been around in any number since WW2 and have been penned by the combatants of all the participating states: Sajer's Forgotten Soldier is famous, as is Viktor Nekrasov's Front Line Stalingrad. 3 Para is in that tradition.

The book details the basic seclection and training of the soldiers, though compared with some accounts of the same (e.g. Point Man) the narrative was peculiarly bloodless, I felt. I was interested to read that the Paras in training still practise "milling" (presumably from the Anglo-Norman "melee"), which is a kind of brutal ritualized boxing-for-a-minute, a proletarian equivalent of the Heidelberg University scarface fencing-in-position which is still seen today). I thought that milling had been done away with years ago. Apparently not.

I found the book interesting to start with, but perhaps inevitably a little same-ey or repetitive later on. This may be unavoidable in a book which deals with the combat lives of particular small units in a few specified places. It is no criticism of the book to say that it contains no strategic sweep. It does not pretend to that. It is just a solidly written account of combat as experienced by front-line soldiers. A good read but in my opinion not a great one.
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on 8 October 2008
This book is indeed fantastic to read, it is well researched and gives a slightly more wholesome view of what our boys are up against. My only criticism, not meaning to take anything away from the author, is that the book is not written as if a soldier is talking, but rather from a third person perspective, which is good but not my personal choice (after reading sniper one). This by no means takes away from the value of the book and its a very good read, for anyone who wants a bit of a clue as to what's really going on in afghanistan.
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on 22 October 2007
I had the honour of taking part in the attack on Tumbledown Mountain with the 2nd Bn Scots Guards 25 years ago. We had different challenges, including an extended supply line, compared to those written about. But our experiences were over quickly, unlike the fierce fighting that took place over a prolonged period by the soldiers described in the book.

"3 Para" is an honest account that does not pull punches or try to be politically correct. In addition to the well researched descriptions of battles/contacts, it also gives the big picture, in a way that can be easily followed. You can taste the fear in your mouth as you read how our troops reacted during the fog of war.

I believe this book is a must for any serving or retired military person. You hear the age old cry of "the youth of today are this or that", well this book confirms that our soldiers today are something very special. Although entitled "3 Para", it also includes material on a number of other units. I have read many military accounts over the years, but 3 Para is at the top of the list. This is the book for the person who tells you "they never read books". It is also a book that would make interesting reading for our Politicians (of all parties). This book also confirms, what soldiers who have been in active service, have known for hundreds of years - you don't do it for your Queen and Country - you do it for your mates!

This book will help you remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice during this and other conflicts. It should also help you think about those who have suffered terrible injuries and are living today.
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on 21 May 2013
3 Para is one of the most informative and realistic documentary style of publication which reports what really has been going on from early days of British Troops in Helmand, which was a forerunner of seldom which followed. As an ex-British Officer in similar campaigns the live-action detail rings true and is to be complimented on its content and history of events that took place during the phase of action that took place with the best of intentions that fell below the watermark of operational success due to failure of ANA and ANP contingents to meet their obligations to seal off and fortify zones of Afghanistan to bring democratic values to the communities under seize from pressure inflicted by Taliban Commanders.
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on 5 October 2008
A good solid read. Interesting and well written in my opinion. My only criticism is that it jumped around a bit and therefore I found it hard to follow on occassion. This perhaps reflects the chaos of the situation.
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on 6 January 2008
I recently read this book and found it excellent. It is a detailed,accurate (I hope) account of 3 Paras experiences of war which I reccomend to anyone interested in the war in Afghanistan. In response to the review 'Tactical write-up of 3 Para's tour in Afghanistan'. I would like to add, I think you missed the point of this book. It is titled '3 PARA'. It is about 3 Paras experiences in Afghanistan, particularly about individual soldiers. It tells this story very well, in my opinion. It is not called 'substantive analysis of UN / NATO / ISAF strategy, the roles of neighbours such as Iran and Pakistan in Afghanistan', therefore it does not include this information. As for your comment that, 'The book gives the very strong impression that the author spoke to very few people outside 3 Para.' The book describes only 3 Paras experiences so there is no reason I can think of that the writer would have to speak to anyone outside of 3 Para.
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