When it comes to books detailing factual accounts of modern military conflicts there are few authors of the caliber of Damien Lewis. Most authors use books and news reports as their source of information, not so for Damien, he likes his information ‘straight from the horses mouth’. A publisher friend of mine calls this ‘Living History’, and it is a great description. The other thing that sets Damien apart is his writing style, there is the human element, the people are real, not some regurgitation that is third or fourth generation.
Zero Six Bravo was initially released in the UK and was an instant hit. Within one week it had climbed to #3 in the well respected London Sunday Times best seller list, and on week two it is was in the #1 spot. This lofty perch is the European equivalent of the New York Times list.
Damien has just released an updated version of Zero Six Bravo. I hate reinventing the wheel, it becomes boring and repetitive. Instead I will simply and shamelessly copy the Amazon review, and then talk about the book from my perspective:
Damien Lewis has spent twenty years reporting from conflict zones around the world. Zero Six Bravo—a Sunday Times number one bestseller—tells the story of “sixty special forces against 100,000—a feat of arms to take the breath away.” (Frederick Forsythe) They were branded as cowards and accused desertion. But nothing could be further from the truth. Ten years on, the story of these sixty men can finally be told.
In March 2003, M Squadron—an SBS unit with SAS embeds—was sent 1,000 kilometers behind enemy lines on a true mission impossible, to take the surrender of the 100,000-strong Iraqi Army 5th Corps, an operation so risky it earned the nickname ‘Operation No Return’ right out of the gate. Caught in a ferocious ambush by Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen, plus the awesome firepower of the 5th Corps’ heavy armor, and with eight of their vehicles bogged in Iraqi swamps, M Squadron launched a desperate bid to escape, inflicting massive damage on their enemies. Running low on fuel and ammunition, outnumbered, and outgunned, the elite operators destroyed sensitive information and prepared for death or capture as the Iraqis closed their deadly trap.
Zero Six Bravo contains previously unpublished information detailing the essential involvement of American troops in this astonishing military feat. Zero Six Bravo recounts in vivid and compelling detail the most desperate battle fought by British and allied Special Forces trapped behind enemy lines since World War Two.
This Amazon description is accurate about the basic details, yet leaves so much unsaid.
When I asked Damien Lewis where and how he found his sources, he shrugged his shoulders and told me that he “just knew some of the blokes involved”. Yup that sounds like him! After 15 years as a war correspondent for the BBC and CNN I guess you would know a few ‘blokes’.
While all of the book is a riveting read, in some ways it is the beginning that captured my attention, the idea of bringing the might of the UK SAS and SBS together with some of the finest US specialists together for a mission just boggles my mind. It was a huge culture and training shock!
The US members of the team probably were not keen on the modes of transport to be used, open air Land Rovers called Pinkies because of the desert camouflage and off road quad bikes. This was speed and stealth rather than the well protected Humvee.
The team went to Kenya to train. I was fascinated by the way the group learns to become a cohesive unit in a very short period of time.
Although the subject matter of Zero Six Bravo is deadly serious, there are most certainly elements of humor to be found. Without doubt my favorite is the translator Sebastian. A merchant banker by trade and a weekend warrior in the UK reserves. This is an unlikely fit into a team of 60 members of the worlds finest Special Forces.
OK, I don’t want to spoil the story, so I will shut my mouth. But if you want to read a really great book by a great story teller, Zero Six Bravo is my recommendation.
You can order your copy by clicking the Amazon link above.