Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab
This may read as the definitive account of what happened on a British Army SAS patrol behind enemy lines in Iraq during the first Gulf War in January 1991. But do not be taken in. The only definitive thing about this account is that it was the first to be published. Hard on its heels, over the next ten years, several more accounts were written, revealing many discrepancies in the story.
As a factual document, however, we are assured by the first person narrative that this is what actually happened (albeit through one man’s eyes), but the prose reads like fiction that has already been honed as a script for a forthcoming film. A hundred pages dedicated to beatings, torture, interrogations and unending misery, cannot all be accurate in its detail. But Andy McNab has the skill of a craftsman of putting the stark reality of their ordeal right in our faces.
I found myself skimming through some of the plethora of repeated scenarios, but that was more to do with my impatience with the detail than any deficiencies in the author. I was drawn to Bravo Two Zero only because one of McNab’s short stories (Last night another soldier….) had featured on the reading list of World Book Night, and I had been sent 25 copies to distribute as one of the givers.