The Apache Longbow attack helicopter is the most technologically advanced combat helicopters in service today. With the ability to carry a brutally punishing arsenal of weaponry and to track and identify up to 1000 individual targets at any one time. Want to know what it's like to fly one? Read this book!
As you are no doubt aware, there has been a steady stream of 'front line' books bursting onto the shelves recently, from detailing life as a sniper to the insights of bomb disposal experts and clearance divers. This is easily one of the best first hand accounts of life on the front line that I have read.
From the start, you are given enough personal background on the author, Ed Macy, to bring you closer to the action instead of just being a 'bystander'. It covers in enough detail the author's route to Apache training and then you're into the action!
Laced with squaddy humour throughout the book, there are moments where you will burst out with laughter. But be warned, as well as the humorous tales, there are other stories which are both harrowing and heroic in their own right. Such as the heroic rescue of Royal Marine Matthew Ford which was reported on numerous news programmes. This book is worth reading just for the details of that rescue alone!
This book also strives, and manages very well, to please those who are technically and mechanically minded. From an exploded diagram of the machine in question, to numerous photographs complimenting the narrative of this helicopter's devastating weaponry.
To summarize, this book will have you feeling like you have spent hours on end flying one of these fascinating machines and you won't want to put it down! If you are the type of person who enjoys reading of tales and experience from the front line, then this book is definately for you!
And, on one last note, watch out for Rocco!
I took a chance with this since I hadn't previously read any of the reviews and I had just finished reading Sniper One by Dan Mills and previous to that Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell both excellent books but both which were about combat on the ground.
What strikes you with Macy's book is the sheer level of detail, he gives an amazing overview of the Apache Attack helicopter, its capabilities and the level of concentration and training required to keep the thing in the air over the skies in Afghanistan.
From a technical standpoint Macy knows every inch of the aircraft and for a machine that is predominantly used by the U.S armed forces it was an informative read to know that the British Army has practically taken one of the most lethal attack helicopters and made it even better with its own modifications.
Macy writes with a real passion for action and detail all experienced firsthand, even from the long hours waiting for operational aircraft to be repaired to spending hours on the tarmac waiting for the all clear to support ground troops, the action in the book is second to none and while many people would assume the pilots don't know what's being dealt out on the ground I can tell you that these guys know exactly the effect their ordnance is having on the enemy especially when its revealed the Apache can read a car number plate from as far away as 4.2 Km away with its TADS ( target Acquisition System).
The pinnacle of the book has Macy describing his involvement the combined allied assault on Jugroom fort in Jan 2007 in support of a massive air and ground operation that was designed to take the fight head on to the Taliban and armed insurgents who held that territory in the Southern Helmand province. Combat writing doesn't get any better than this and its incredible edge of your seat reading, what makes this story stand out is that Macy and his support Apaches carried out the daring rescue mission to recover lance Corporal Matthew Ford who had fallen in battle assaulting the fort and was attached to 45 Commando Royal Marines. In the book it describes how two Royal Marine Commandos were strapped to the outside of the Apache attack helicopter and flown under heavy enemy fire to locate and retrieve the downed Marine.
I've never felt more proud of the men and women in our armed services as I do now and its books like this that underline the daily pressures of combat and the circumstances that they do their job, when I think about the fact I earn more money sitting at a desk than I do some of the people putting their own lives in mortal danger in daily combat it makes you sit back and think, "what would I have done?".
You will find this book extremely hard to put down, I read this in less than a week and I normally take about 3-4 weeks to get through the average hardback at best.
The book gives a stunning insight into the role of the Apache Attack helicopter in Afghanistan and the level of detail is just right to give the reader the need to know stuff to enjoy and understand the crafts capabilities, Macy writes with a candid humour in places but also writes with real honesty and conviction from someone who's experienced combat first hand.
Available now in paperback this is a well written account and a simply blistering read.
I'm not what you'd call a prolific reader of military books but having read and enjoyed war reporter Damian Lewis' Apache Dawn, my appetite was whetted and this one then filled me up. The main reason that this is a better read is that it was written by one of the pilots themselves; the man who flew the aircraft, fired the missiles and sat in the (very) hot seat for many many hours. This makes it different gravy and a far better read IMO, reminiscent of Dan Mills' excellent Sniper One.
After a brief bio, we are quickly taken to the Helmand Province where Ed Macy teams up with the rest of the Apache crew, Flight Ugly (four Apaches), and they are soon called into action. Initially a lot of their work is routine escorts or casevacs (casualty evacuations) but later in the tour, the author and his weaponry go on the offensive in Operation Glacier a huge plan to destroy Taliban bases and cut of their supply lines. We really do get "access all areas" from the controls in the Apache to the radio transmissions between JTAC (Joint Terminal attack Controller), other pilots, marines on the ground and other air support. It's a great insight how the operations are run and the pressures the pilots are put under in testing terrain.
Most of the second half of the book is concerned with the famous Jugroom Fort offensive and the subsequent evacuation of the unfortunate Lance Corporal Matthew Ford. Encountering much more Taliban resistance than expected, Ford was left behind in the fort, and the thermal imaging cameras showed he was alive but surrounded by Taliban only yards from him. With comms down, commands never reached their intended recipients and with two marine volunteers strapped to the stub wings or missile rails, two £40 million Apache's entered the fort and flew him out whilst the other two aircrew and the ground force laid down serious covering fire. Balls of steel the lot of them. The inquest afterwards made satisfying reading, the brass deciding not to take any disciplinary action....
The book itself also has an excellent glossary, lots of maps of Helmand and the Jugroom Fort, excellent photos and cutaway drawings of the beast itself. It goes into a lot of weaponry and flight ops details, but trust me this does not make it a dull read. Macy tells it as it is, as the man on the ground (sorry, in the air) and there was never a dull moment. Special mention goes to the "groundies" who re-arm, refuel and work around the clock to keep them flying, true unsung heroes.
With respect to Damian Lewis, this is a far more informative and enjoyable book than Apache Dawn, if you're unsure which to get, make it this one. If you can afford it, get the hardcover which gets top marks for the iconic cover photo and illustrations. You won't regret it.
(also reviewed on amazon)
The Blurb -
The Man - Ed Macy (elite pilot)
The Machine - Apache AH MK1 (The worlds deadliest fighting machine)
The Mission - Inpenatrable enemy fort, 200 Taliban, 1 Marine MIA
Apache is the bestseller from Ed Macy, a veteran Apache pilot in the army air corps (656 Squadron) who left the army in 2008. according to the official figures he lists in the book, he flew a total of 3,930 hours, of which 645 were in the apache.
The book covers the historic and much publicised 'Jugroom Fort' episode, where Matthew Ford, a Royal Marine Commando, lost his life fighting for his country, as well as many other missions, and the build up and aftermath of serving in Afganistan.
Ed Macy has a very easy to read writing style, and even though most books about pilots seem to endlessly state things like 'we took a heading of x and flew at x feet for x long....' to bump up the word count, he doesn't. What Ed does do is give a blow by blow account of his doings and goings on in the Helmand province with great detail and excellent prose. being as this is a true story, i was expecting it to be a little beefed up as though to make him sound or appear to be braver etc.
He didnt. Within a few pages of this book i was totally entertained by his realism, and willingness to be honest about things that happened, along with his very good descriptive writing that kept some extremely complicated battles easy to visualise.
In the book we get the usual tech stuff about the Apache gunship, and its differences to the american version of the same ship, and for once its nice to know that the Brittish version is a cut above, and can out perform the US counterpart. We also hear endless praise for the 'groundies', or ground crews, without whom the ship would never fly; And Macy makes a point of stating this very clearly.
There have been a few books in recent years about the apache and its pilots but for me this one really stands out, as it has been written by one of the actual pilots that attempted the Jugroom Fort rescue, and not just an apache pilot (if there is such a thing as 'just an apache piloy') talking through what he heard had happened.
I cannot reccomend this book highly enough, as it highlights so many different aspects of modern warfare and the moral implications, as well as the red tape that binds our armed forces when they are trying to do their jobs. It is a real eye opener for those that know nothing or very little about the war in Afganistan, and for those that do know what is going on, it is still an exciting read.
The new paperback of this book, has also got links to some great online footage that has now been declassified, and adds to the overall feeling of the book, and helps those who have difficulty visualising events to do so.
As well as the hard hitting story, it is indespersed with the comedy and comraderie that makes our armed forces what it is, and the appearance of 'Rocco' the unofficial mascot of 656 Squadron, is fantastic (you will have to read it to find out what i mean).
A fantastic all round book, with great additional features, such as online extras, and photos within the book.