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The One That Got Away by Chris Ryan was the first account of the Bravo Two Zero mission that i read, and it intrigued me deeply. I'm sure many of you know the background, but for those who do not -
During the first 'Gulf' War, the S.A.S was dispatched to Iraq to seek out and observe Scud missile movements, relay this information back to their superiors, and destroy them if possible without blowing their cover as a last resort. They were also tasked with disrupting communications of the Iraqi Military by destroying fibre optic cables laid throughout Iraq.
The Squad of 22 SAS call sigh Bravo Two Zero, was an eight man patrol given the task listed previously, to be carried out near a main supply route that the army believed was being used to move the Scud mobile launchers. The Patrol was ill prepared for the mission on the back of some very poor intelligence reports, and set out to complete their mission over burdoned with equiptment and supplies. within 48hours the patrol was compromised, and had to make a run for it. Of the eight men that left, only one of them actually escaped the country, four were captured, and three died. this is the story of the man that made the escape (the one that got away)
To be honest i couldnt really see what Chris Ryan could write about at first, but once i got stuck into the book, i realised how incredible it was that any of the men survived, let alone escaped across hostile ground with little rations and no water.
I have read many Chris Ryan Fiction novels, and enjoyed his writing style, which at times is very simple, but very readable, and this is no exception. He has a great wealth of experience, and really explains things very well for the reader, and i believe that even a complete army novice would find it easy to understand what is going on.
There has always been a lot of controversy surrounding the mission and its outcome and this is one side of a multi faceted story, but it is a great place to start and even a great place to finish if you are interested in the goings on of the SAS during the Gulf war.
Chris Ryan obviously put a great deal of effort into putting this book together and he lays himself bare for the reader to make up their own mind about the events, which is very good to see, and makes a change from some of the other accounts that are a little gung ho.
In contrast i would reccomend that readers also read Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNabb as that gives a lot of detail about the other side of the story from one of the men that was captured.
the newer prints of this book contain some new material, including picture, and most interestingly, a new opening chapter that explains what happened after the fall out of the men from the patrol, when the movie adaptation of Ryans book was made, and tries to clear up some of the points raised about the men that lost their lives during the operation, which some people felt werent shown in the right context in this book.
I thouroughly enjoyed reading this, and would highly reccommend it to anyone looking for a good military read, and even to those that arent, as the story within is one that will definately move you.
This book, like Bravo Two Zero (by Andy Mcnab), tells the true story of an SAS patrol behind enemy lines in Iraq, the Gulf War. This 8 man foot patrol was tasked with the search and destroy of Iraqi mobile Scud missile launchers, and the sabotage of vital communication lines. Weighed down with 15 st each they patrolled 20 km to their objective from their helicopter insertion where they were compromised the next day. Soon much of the country were hunting down this doomed 8 man patrol whose comms were down. Saddam had let children off school to help in the search. The patrol, dressed lightly, faced the worst weather in Iraq for 30 years, wadis which had been dry for 30 years were now full. The patrol, after a huge firefight with a much larger force which they held back, became split into 2 groups of 3 and 5, who both headed for the Syrian border, 170km away. In the end 3 men died of hypothermia (one of these has been criticised as a huge cover up by ex-SAS members who claim he was captured and killed by American friendly fire, he was part of the group of 3 with Ryan), 4 were captured within a few miles of the border, and one escaped, this was Chris Ryan. This book is a great account of the doomed patrol who, in the face of impossible odds, gave it all their heart and left a huge amount of devastation in their path. At times Ryan makes you feel you were there, and you really have a strong will for these men to make it, even though you know it is very unlikely, and even if they did meet the border, what reception would they get, would it be possible to cross? This escape has been regarded by historians and military commanders as one of the greatest escape stories of all time. Very readable, and at times very sad, this is an amazing account of an amazing story. Anyone who has bought "Bravo Two Zero" must buy this, and anyone who buys this should consider "Bravo Two Zero", to find out what happened to the o
ther part of the patrol the five.