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on 24 May 2017
Excellent read
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on 18 November 2017
An interesting delve into the less well known 'black arts' that took place during the period.
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on 19 November 2016
I was a bit underwhelmed by this book - it promised so much of the sleeve notes yet it at times wandered way off course going into information, that wasn't really relevant to the Falklands. I was hoping that the book wouldn't focus exclusively on the Exocet but that's what it's done. I was hoping that there would be more focus on the covert supply of information generally, from Chile, for example, be it be related to the Super Entardes or not etc.Its already in my pile of books for giving to charity.
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VINE VOICEon 6 July 2013
This book tells the story of the war behind the Falklands War, dealing with the covert activities of the SAS and SBS, MI6 and the SIS around the world. Nigel West (actually former Conservative MP Rupert Allason) takes the reader from the cold seas of the South Atlantic and the moors of the Falkland Islands themselves to the world of international finance in Paris, Rome and Lima, to clandestine electronic listening posts around the worlds, and to the secret planning meetings in London.

What quickly becomes apparent is the importance of personalities, and just how much support the British intelligence services got from their friends in the US, Chile, France, New Zealand, and a Canadian operative who called his reports in from a telephone box in Port Stanley! The extent of superpower involvement is interesting, the US aiding the British whilst fending off the requirements of the Munroe Doctrine and the demands of the Western Hemisphere neighbours, whilst the Russians kept the Task Force under observation but otherwise tried to keep well out of things. It is surprising to note that both the Russians nor the Americans were wrong footed by the Argentinean invasion. A story covered in some depth is the Argentinean attempts to purchase arms, particularly air launched Exocets and long range drop tanks from around the world, a story involving of Italian banker Roberto Calvi, the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano and Calvi's suicide at Blackfriars. This section includes a fascinating insight into the involvement of the SIS in world finance. On the military side the various special forces missions are well covered, including Operation MIKADO, an Entebbe-style raid on the Argentine Super Etendards at their home airfield, from its conception to cancellation in an acrimonious atmosphere which saw the squadron commander relieved for his lack of faith in the mission.

Whilst the coverage of the `sneaky beaky' side of the war is excellent the book is let down by a series of very basic errors in its technical information. This is unforgivable, since the information which is wrong is openly available. For example, the Type 22 is fitted with 967/968 radar, Nimrod was in service during the war (page 2), Sea Wolf is a radar guided missile, Agave was the radar carried by the Etendards, not Type 42 destroyers, the Argentine ship-mounted version of Exocet was the MM38, not MM40 (repeated on many pages), the Mk. 8 torpedo was a straight running torpedo, not acoustic homing, HMS Phoebe was a Leander class frigate, not a Type 21. These are some of the more obvious errors, but the text is littered with similar examples, and Mr. West's researchers should have done better, since one gets the (hopefully unwarranted) feeling that, if such simple mistakes exist, how accurate is the rest of the book?

In summary, a fair treatment of a side of the Falklands War which has received little attention up until now, but marred by an apparent lack of attention to detail. This in itself should not stop it appealing to anyone interested in the period.
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on 31 July 2017
An amazing book, really exploding some of the myths about the Falklands war, and also illustrating that there were lesser known incidents in the 1970's that were dealt with before war became a necessity. Without wanting to spoil the narrative, one has to question the Thatcher government's motives in the way the war progressed and was even allowed to happen in the first place. For me, it highlights how such an impressive tool as the British military is so underserving as to be (mis)used (time and again) by an institution as undeserving as the British government.
An Angel's Alternative
Cold Steel on the Rocks
We Are Cold Steel
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on 13 November 2000
As a former American Defense Department historian, I've read my fair share of military and intelligence books. I eagerly sought this book out and its introduction made me anticipate reading it even more. In the end, I was left particularly disappointed. It seems to me that West really wasn't connected to (enough) classified sources to write a complete history of the secret war. He mentions particular contributions to the British cause made by foreign intelligence services: Chile, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, but does not really detail what the content of that intelligence was, nor how useful it was to the British Task Force. The book's main thesis was the secret war against the Argentine use of the Exocet...and this is not quite the same thing as the secret war in the Falklands (which would conjure up images of all SAS/SBS operations, etc, not just those planned against Super Etendard bases). West introduces more military, intelligence, and business officials than you can keep straight, but he doesn't really detail much about their exact role. Strangely enough, West felt compelled to add an epilogue detailing what happened to these people, most of who merited only one or two sentences in the entire book! The latter half of the book details the demise and mysterious death of the Italian banker Calvi, who was tied to an Argentinian purchase of Exocets. Despite all the pages devoted to this topic, the best West can surmise about Calvi's fate is speculation. In the book's favor, I did learn a few tidbits I did not know: like the extent of Chilean assistance to Britain, but the tidbits had no depth to them. Either West didn't have enough sources or he should have waited until more documents dealing with the war are declassified.
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on 19 April 2015
I found this book riddled with silly technical errors that undemined it's credibility. There's reference to 300mm Bofors guns and a KC-10Q refuelling tanker along with a baffling inaccurate technical desription of the Belgrano. After about 100 pages I began to wonder how much of the rest of the book was complete bunk.
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on 10 June 2008
Despite all the reviews on the book, some of them positively raving, this was not the book it claimed to be. Rather than the secret war for the Falklands, it was more concerned with padding out what little the author knew with historical facts and tenuously related stories. As a dip into the world of the 'friends' and 'spooks' it was interesting and no doubt the author went to a great deal of trouble to research a number of facts (although there were a number of basic errors, such as which services were involved at particular times and numbers of aircraft), but if I had wanted to, for instance, read about special forces in NI, I would have bought a book entitled as such. Disappointing.
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on 10 January 2010
I almost didnt write a review as the other reviewers have summed it up pretty well. Having read a fair amount about the Falklands War I had great expectations but found this book disappointing - promising lots and delivering little additional hard information
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on 6 November 2013
An interesting and informative investigation into the Argentinian Exocet arms race during the Falklands conflict; the text gives focus to that and to the efforts of British (and allies) Intelligence to thwart the Argentinians in their efforts to obtain that most deadly weapon. At the time of reading I had little understanding of international relations and although I find that West has a rather dry writing style I remember being fascinated by an important aspect of the conflict that had been played out by people who weren't in uniform and who operated far away from those boggy little islands.
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