WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT DEAD MEN RISEN

 

Toby Harnden has produced the best book so far on Britain’s military adventure in Afghanistan…Dead Men Risen will stand as a true, unsparing record of what happened there, a monument to all the soldiers who went – and to those who didn’t come back.

Patrick Bishop (author of 3 PARA), Daily Mail


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…has the flavour of an epic…Toby Harnden's Dead Men Risen is built on a wealth of research… This is a rich and multilayered story that weaves together action on the ground with analysis of all the logistical, strategic and political problems associated with the war, as well as the ongoing psychological issues some soldiers face when they return home.

Keith Lowe, Daily Telegraph


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…there is heroism aplenty, and great camaraderie, but also much squalor and horror. Scenes depicting the repatriation of dead soldiers and their funerals back home are desperately moving. So too, in their way, are the moments when fear and, on occasion, cowardice seep through the Guardsmen’s defences…Dead Men Risen is a serious work, far removed from the blood-and-thrills of the Bravo Two Zero school of military literary campaigning. Such books may grip but they do not engage. Harnden’s does both.

Alex Massie, Spectator

 

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This narrative is extraordinary in its research, scope, empathy and raw emotive power. Every citizen of the United Kingdom should read this magnum opus and ponder deeply upon the nature of patriotism, sacrifice and love. Deeply disturbing yet uplifting, a tribute to those who serve the flag, yet written in an unsentimental and intelligent tone. You cannot read this book without pausing, again and again, to reflect upon its understated messages about honor, valor, fear, blood, patriotism, politics, strategy, tribalism and sheer determination to do the right thing.

Bing West (author The Wrong War)

 

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very powerful and important

Jake Tapper, ABC News


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Harnden’s book is much more than the British soldier’s perspective of the Afghan war. It is at once a story that weaves together the experiences of soldiers on the ground—from the mundane to the harrowing to the deadly—with keen insights on the pitfalls of counterinsurgency and scathing revelations about British political myopia in planning the military campaign…at once a monumental and brutal read.

George Gavrilis, Hollings Center for International Dialogue

 

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Harnden has risen to the challenge...The section on the snipers is simply awe inspiring... nothing short of being one of the greatest non-fiction accounts of war and soldiering in the modern age.

David Weber, The West Australian

 

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An intimate, multi-layered portrait of infantry 'grunts' in combat, warts and all. From first-hand descriptions of the mad adrenaline high of combat to nerve-shredding patrols along dodgy roads and the piercing grief at watching comrades die in agony: it is all there, so vividly rendered that one can almost smell the sweat, the cordite and the acrid scent of fear…. incorporates excellent maps, dramatic action photography and a proper index...An experienced war reporter, Harnden never shies away from confronting us with the brutal realities of a conflict...prodigious research...Although Operation Panther’s Claw was touted to the media by the Ministry of Defence and some senior military figures as a triumph, Harnden provides a very different account.

For most of Thorneloe’s troops, Harnden observes: ‘Facing each day required an act of bravery to function despite the knowledge that it might be their last.’ With commendable honesty, he records a handful of cases of cowardice under fire.

Harnden’s publishers had originally planned to release Dead Men Risen (a title drawn from a First World War poem) on last month’s feast day of St David, patron saint of Wales. But they reckoned without the military censors, who had already imposed hundreds of changes in the name of ‘national security’ and concern for feelings of the families of fallen soldiers before clearing it for publication. Just hours before 24,000 copies of the book went on the market, Whitehall’s desk-bound warriors struck again, demanding further cuts. Eventually a deal was hammered out, under which the MoD spent some £150,000 of taxpayers’ money to have the entire first print run pulped…[a] ludicrous exercise in saving face.

Philip Jacobson, Daily Mail

 

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Dead Men Risen dilutes the saccharine perception of soldiering and replaces it with the gritty and gruesome reality of war. A fine study…Exhaustive homework has been done and the scenes are painted vividly and harrowingly…The effect is rightfully powerful. Harnden’s prose is readable and his style direct, he captures the soldiers’ voice well and the accessibility of the book belies its near 600 pages. Harnden, formerly in the Royal Navy, has a perhaps more instinctive feel for soldiers than more 'civilian' writers who have attempted similar exercises.

Patrick Hennessey (author of Junior Officers’ Reading Club), Army Rumour Service

 

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“enthralling... incontrovertibly speaks the truth that dare not mention its name...Dead Men Risen resonates with a terrible beauty...Dead Men Risen has already made its own history...Once the true and troubling implications of the narrative were grasped, the publisher and author felt the full weight of the British establishment...To their credit the publisher and author would not budge, and the MoD then exacted its retribution by pulping the book. Miraculously, the book that finally has emerged for publication retains, despite the blanked-out sentences that dot its pages, its essential gruesome picture of a flagging campaign. It highlights that, despite all the bravery, sacrifice and courage of the guards, they are fighting not only against tigers, but also bungling at a political and strategic level that defies logic.”

Frank Carrigan, The Australian

 

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It’s sometimes easy to forget that we are a country at war. This book serves to remind us that its chaos, brutality and horror is gilded with courage and honour….a superb analysis of the bitterest fighting of the Afghan War and a brilliant portrayal of Lt-Col Thorneloe, an admirable, intelligent and brave man who believed he was fighting a just war but was dismayed by the way it was resourced and conducted. But above all it exposes the complacency of politicians and senior army commanders who sent these young men from former quarry and coal mining villages into one of the bloodiest battlegrounds on earth without sufficient equipment, resources or manpower...It’s an unsettling book as well as deeply moving...this scholarly and gripping account of the horrors of the Afghan War.

Steve Dube, Western Mail

 

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Toby Harnden's unputdownable Dead Men Risen… No one who has read Harnden's book could fail to feel angry and bitter about the hopelessness of the task facing our troops in Afghanistan…you are left feeling utterly unworthy that such selfless, dedicated, courageous people are fighting on our behalf.

James Delingpole, Spectator

 

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The daily horrors facing Welsh Guardsmen as they battled the Taliban in Afghanistan have been brought to life in a vividly-written new book Dead Men Risen by journalist Toby Harnden contains searing eye-witness accounts of the Welsh Guards' bloody battle for survival in 2009.

Rob Davies (Daily Post)   

 

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In what may be uncomfortable and unwelcome reading for some of those involved, Harnden is quite unsparing in his description of war — recounting not only its bloody details and the regular acts of extraordinary bravery, but also the disputes, jealousies and even (rare) acts of cowardice among the Guards.

Stephen Grey (Author of Operation Snakebite), Sunday Times  

 

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The impression of a well-intentioned if futile venture is hard to dispel when reading Dead Men Risen, Toby Harnden’s account of the Welsh Guards’ campaign in Helmand. The author – a veteran Daily Telegraph foreign correspondent – offers a window on modern warfare, giving voice to young soldiers who are thrilled yet often traumatised by their experience on the front line. His portrait of the conflict is a sober reminder of how the Blair government badly underestimated the scale of the challenge in 2006 when it announced it was sending reinforcements to Afghanistan...Despite the pride and professionalism of the ground troops, the impression is one of a post-imperial power struggling to keep pace with the Americans. The reader’s frustration grows as the military gains prove temporary and the absence of a coherent political strategy becomes obvious.

Lionel Barber, Financial Times

 

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the best account of the demands of close combat in the ambiguous hybrid wars of the post-Cold War era that I have read

Malcolm McGregor, Spectator (Australia)

 

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One account stands out from all these tactical books...a superb account...Harnden puts into perspective the tactical and operational decisions, and how the military effort frequently was disconnected from the wider political context


 

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this exceptional book...a detailed, unflinching portrait of the nature of modern warfare, where battlefield heroism exists alongside refusals to go into action… Harnden makes considered comparisons between the tactical approaches of the British Army and the US Marine Corps, recently deployed in Helmand, noting how far the Americans have come in recent years...one of the central themes running through the book is the failure of the Coalition forces to come to grips with neutralizing IEDs (which caused so many casualties to the Welsh Guards). The current mine-clearing devices are clearly inadequate, especially against low-metal content IEDs, and the ‘treacle effect’ of painstakingly clearing a path through an infested zone prevents the rapid tactical movement essential in counter-insurgency warfare…a thought-provoking book, well-written and conscientiously researched...the author is to be congratulated 

Adrian Gilbert (author of Sniper: One-on-One), War Books Review

 

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Book of the Year 2012: It is a tale of stoicism and flashes of bravery. Grown men cry. But it’s also a balanced account and several men in the book lose their bottle. There are also accusations of incompetence and cowardice. The Labour Government of time comes in for harsh criticism for under-resourcing its troops in Afghanistan. Senior commanders are also criticised for ill-judged strategies and tactics... some senior officers seemed to have been telling Labour that they could do the job with the resources available and then briefing the Tory opposition at the time about shortages of crucial equipment...The message of this book is clear – if you’re going to fight a war, do it properly. But this book is not a polemic, it is a snapshot of the Brits at war and a good one. Harnden gives voice to the men on the ground who question not only how the campaign was being fought in 2009 but whether it should have been fought at all. 

Paul Cowan (author of How the Scots created Canada), Scottish Military Disasters blog

 

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As a veteran of Helmand myself, I endured a number of strong emotions in reading Dead Men Risen but my overriding feeling after putting the book down was one of closure – like the author had answered all my questions...Toby Harnden makes a number of game-changing comparisons between US and UK decisions which are difficult to ignore.

George Vlachonikolis, War on the Rocks