It is difficult to imagine a target readership for this book. If you are not academically inclined, the subject matter will not be interesting. If you are, then the material is too basic to hold your attention. Maybe it is for teenage children; maybe it is for people who learn their history from cable TV.
The narrator over-acts and has a voice that is mismatched to the material: the performance sounds like a trailer for a movie about someone who has stolen money from the Mafia. Quotes from other writers are delivered in an ironic tone of voice, as though the words are somehow funny or quaint, even when the subject matter suggests otherwise.
There is an additional problem for British readers: while some American accents are pleasant and transparent, this one isn't. It set my teeth on edge.
Readers on both sides of the Atlantic should avoid this audio book; British readers should run away screaming.
If you have ever wondered what a contemporary soldier is like; what he does and why, this may provide some of the answers. It is detailed, personal, witty and highly listenable.
While the book takes a brief tour of Hennessey's other military experience, it focuses on his time in the Afghan war. I ended the book knowing a lot more about how contemporary wars are fought, and having enjoyed some very good storytelling.
The socio-political background is better explained in Patrick Bishop's 'Ground Truth,' but this first-hand account is unmissable.
The author reads it, and his ironic, dark, dry wit may be clearer here than in the printed version (online reviews suggest that some hard-copy readers can't tell when he is kidding and when he isn't). This is an example of a work that is probably stronger as an audiobook than in printed form.
The book shows how the weapons, navigation, logistics and communications technology of the ISAF (the Western coalition) make firefights very one-sided affairs. However, it also spells out how dangerous life can be on the ISAF side. The author claims that the casualty rate in UK frontline infantry is about one in three. Official ratios count personnel who are not in close contact with the enemy and are thus much lower.
I should mention that, in common with some other reviewers, I also ended the book with a powerful dislike for the author. I don't think he intends this, and in an odd way, it is actually one of the book's delights. In that respect, it has something in common with Toby Young's 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.'
You won't find much about the lives, characters, motivations, emotions and thoughts of the author's friends and colleagues. I got the impression that he sees the rest of the human race simply as scenery: a collection of good blokes, odd blokes, Afghans and girls; all of whom are adequately explained and described in a sentence each. Which is probably handy if your job involves shooting people, but I wouldn't want to listen to him in a pub. I would have expected a richer view than this from a man with a first-rate education and who has been around people in extremes of fear and danger.
Whatever you make of the previous two paragraphs, I do recommend the book, and after listening to it, you probably will too.
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