Book Look: Bravo Two Zero

Book Look: Bravo Two Zero

A summary of Andy McNabb's bestseller from Gulf War One


Though some sources class it as a novel, this book is actually billed as non-fiction. *  It’s story, however, seems worthy of an action novel: during the opening days of the First Gulf War, an eight-man team from the British Special Air Service (SAS) whose ground call sign was "Bravo Two Zero" was dispatched deep into Iraq to seek out and destroy the infamous “Scud” missiles Saddam Hussein was launching against Israel to try to spark their participation in the conflict.  Participation which, Saddam knew, would mean the US-led coalition would splinter with all the participating Arab nations quitting over Israeli involvement.

Sadly, this SAS team was discovered and –thanks to communications failures- could not be extracted by helicopter and tried to run for nearby coalition member Syria; only one man made the trek.  Three others died,  with McNabb and the others rounded up into captivity until the war ended.

“Andy McNabb” is a pen name; the author’s true name –and face- has long been obscured.  He even appears as a silhouette on TV interviews and all that kind of jazz.

I must warn readers of this review that Bravo Two Zero is a book that has come under much fire in recent years despite terrific sales and a nifty 1999 TV movie version directed by Tom Clegg and starring my most favorite British actor: the one, the only, Sean Bean.    The fire in question being directed at the book in terms of whether or not McNabb got things right or embellished; much ink has been shed over it.  **

I originally took one look at all this and decided not to read the book even after stumbling across McNabb’s story via the Sean Bean movie version; I really dislike it when a war memoir’s author comes under fire as at best an embellisher or at worst an outright liar.   But curiosity finally won out, and I read McNabb’s book … and became entranced.  If he is a liar, then he is damn good at it: nothing he wrote struck me as exaggerating, lying, embellishing, etc.  In fact, at one point he even points out that, while Hollywood shows the likes of the LAW anti-tank missiles carried by McNabb and his men as causing massive explosions on impact, in real-life they do not.  Hardly the sorts of thing to expect from someone out to exaggerate, embellish, and lie; if you ask me, they would have gone with how Hollywood depicts war.

In sum, I think this book is well worth a read.