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Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 27 Jun. 2008
This review is from: The Circuit: An ex-SAS soldier's true account of one of the most powerful and secretive industries spawned by the War on Terror (Hardcover)
Bob Shepherd, ex-SAS, tell us the story of his time as a PMC from the days when it was a small, closed market, to today's free-for-all in Iraq. Clearly, Bob knows his stuff. His story is not gung-ho; though clearly a man who knows how to handle himself in dangerous situations, he is often smart enough to know how far to push the envelope. But he understands the job inside and out. In one very revealing chapter, he tells us of a time he was escorting a journalist in Iraq, and ended up advising local American commanders on doing basic counter-insurgency - some of it really simple stuff - it was scary how little they knew about it, and how much of a lack of common sense they had. If this experience of Bob's is any reflection of most of the American units, it certainly explain why such a dog's ear has been made in Iraq. Bob's experience of dealing with modern PMC's in Iraq and Afghanistan also makes for sobering reading - if anything it was scarier than his dealings with the American forces. PMC's are in competition, with an eye on the bottom line. If Bobs' account is anything to go by, safety has been compromised to meet this bottom line. Many of the PMC's he encountered were people completely unsuited to the job.

The one thing I think this book lacks is a little scholarship. We don't really get any figures - how much of a problem this is. Bob's experiences are well worth reading, but you come away oddly unsatisified, wanting to know more. I am glad he was encouraged to put his experiences on paper, but we could do with a bit more background. Bob doesn't feel comfortable discussing his years in the SAS, and you have to respect that. So perhaps some expansion on the PMC industry would make it more interesting, and accomodate this research in the book. Facts and figures would be made so much more interesting by these great accounts Bob gives us.
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