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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2002
I agree with one of the other reviewers that the association of the book with "Bravo Two Zero"/Andy McNab is unfortunate. Entertaining as Bravo Two Zero is, Unscathed leaves it far behind in terms of the quality of writing and the ability of the author to engage his (civilian) audience. The book is much more similar to the (non-fiction) works of Ranulph Fiennes.
I could not put the book down - and read it in two days (Working days!) Much to my surprise, my wife then picked it up and had the same experience.
The images of civil-war-torn Sierra Leone are sickening and fascinating by turns.
But this book is really about a fascinating character, doing extraordinary things.
An inspiring read!
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on 29 January 2004
Very rarely do you find a book so competently written within the military bracket. Major Phil Ashby is a man who has experienced so much that it would be a horrible injustice for this book not to exist, and for his story not to be told.
His status as a commissioned officer immediately marks him apart from the majority of military authors, and perhaps his more privileged upbringing explains the unusual fluency of his prose.
Simply put, an incredibly resilient man tells an absolutely enthralling tale of experiences the likes of which you and I could seldom imagine, let alone find ourselves living. If you like books of this genre, you simply won't find a better written or more engaging one than this.
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on 19 June 2002
I expected a Mc Knabb/Ryan style of book when i read the back cover of the book.
In fact it turned into more of partial life story which looked at incidents that occurred in Sierra Leone, and the extremely difficult job the UN have to do across the world.
Although it's not an endless tale of shootouts and bombings, it does keeps you at the edge of your seat and at time brings lumps in your throat.
I really enjoyed the book it came across at a human level, and the personal stories interlaced with the more arduous army training made the book a must for a generation brought up on the exploits of Falklands and Gulf War veterans
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on 28 August 2003
This book caught my eye from the moment I saw it. I rarely read this type of book, but glancing through the photos I was quite intrigued, and so on a whim I decided to buy it. I was not disappointed. If you like personal military accounts, then you will surely like this one.
The first third of the book is an early biography of the author, detailing his mountain climbing adventures, and his extremely strenuous military training. Although this section is certainly interesting, the truly enthralling part of the book comes when the author is posted to war-torn Sierra Leone on disarmament duties. He quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict, and his only hope of survival is to journey through the jungle with three colleagues, in truly horrendous conditions. It is here that I became involved, willing this small group on to safety.
This is quite an easy read, and I managed to finish it within only a couple of days. It would be perfect for passing the time on a long plane or train journey.
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on 26 May 2002
I was so entralled with Phil Ashby's story I read the book in a day and a half. The early tales of his climbing and training with the Royal Marines are brought sharply into focus when he decides to evade capture in Sierra Leone.
This is a book of interest to anyone who enjoys montaineering or real life adventure. It should also be read by anyone with an interest in international relations - the successes and fustrations of UN operations are an enlightening portrayal of the difficulites and sensitivities facing the peacekeeper.
Phil Ashby writes well in an entertaining and entralling manner. He writes with humour while at the same time there is an underlying menace from the RUF pervading the book. The ironic lunacy of the situation, a country which should be rich but is one of the poorest in the world, the tragedy of the child soldiers and the sheer brutality makes for a modern 'Heart of Darkness'. This is contrasted with student pranks and the romance with Anna his wife.
A book in the mould of 'Touching the Void' - Buy it.
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on 9 July 2013
Very interesting with regards to the Sierra Leone escape but too much preamble on the author's life. Would be interested to know how Ashby is progressing now - read and this comment will make sense ! Def worth reading to understand conditions in Sierra Leone.
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on 21 August 2003
Wow. Just buy the book now. This book will motivate you and inspire you in life and training (if you want to join RM). His story spans his entire life, with the first third abut life before the corps, second third too do with training - hard as nails - and then about Sierra Leone and the frankly appalling atrocities the RUF commited. It is for this reason; the fact that people should not be allowed to get away with third behaviour that has motivated me to train for the best.
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on 31 May 2002
This book is a must for anyone trying to understand the U.N. or Sierra Leone. Phil Ashby gives the real story behind the headlines, of how peace-keeping really works (or doesn't).
However, it is not just about Sierra Leone. The author describes his background, his love of climbing, his marriage (his description of the rehersal must surely rank as one of the funniest pieces of writing for many years), and his service in the Royal Marines.
His writing is by turns harrowing and hysterical- Major Ashby's deadpan description of his thirtieth birthday: "I inadvertently started a civil war." sums it up.
This is a man who has experienced things that most people never will. He still suffers physically from his time in Sierra Leone, but there is not a single trace of bitterness evident in his writing. An exceptional man, and I wish him, and Anna, all the best for the future.
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on 22 June 2002
Fantastic read!
Not being a fan of english when I was at school, I try not to read books as a rule, but this book caught my eye. I've recently been reading true life stories written by british army personel such as The classic Andy Mcnab and Ken Conner, and thought this would be a good one to read. It has two halves, It tells the story of a young mans wish to join the commandos, become a mountain leader and be the best he can be, it also talks about exercises, good and bad. The second half talks about his time in Sierra Leone when trapped unarmed with no food and water and forced to make the dicision to make a run for it!
Not only is it easy to get into, it also tell you abit of the history of the country, why it's so messed up and makes you realise how bad it is/was.
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on 5 April 2010
Having read 'Ice Bears and Kotick' by Peter Webb, I bought this.
A fast, terrifying, riveting read with precious moments of humour.
I am not an Adrenaline Junkie, but should you wish to become a
Royal Marine, please read this book first!
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