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Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan [Kindle Edition]

Toby Harnden
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $10.52

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Book Description


This is the gripping story of the men of the Welsh Guards and their bloody battle for survival in Afghanistan in 2009. Underequipped and overstretched, they found themselves in the most intense fighting the British had experienced in a generation. They were led into battle by Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, a passionate believer in the justness of the war who was deeply dismayed by the way it was being resourced and conducted. Thorneloe was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw, the biggest operation mounted by the British in Helmand.

Dead Men Risen draws on secret documents written by Thorneloe, which raise questions from beyond the grave that will unnerve politicians and generals alike. The Welsh Guards also lost Major Sean Birchall, commanding officer of IX Company, and Lieutenant Mark Evison, a platoon commander whose candid personal diary was unnervingly prophetic. Not since the Second World War had a single British battalion lost officers at the three key levels of leadership.

Harnden transports the reader into the heart of a conflict in which a soldier has to be prepared to kill and die, to ward off paralysing fear and watch comrades perish in agony. Given unprecedented access to the Welsh Guards, Harnden conducted hundreds of interviews in Afghanistan, England and Wales. He weaves the experiences of the guardsmen and the loved ones they left behind into a seamless and unsparing narrative that sits alongside a piercing analysis of the political and military strategy. No other book about modern warfare succeeds on so many levels.

Editorial Reviews


'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' Patrick Bishop, author of 3 PARA. 'So vividly rendered that one can almost smell the sweat, the cordite and the acrid scent of fear' Daily Mail. 'Dead Men Risen dilutes the saccarine perception of soldiering and replaces it with the gritty and gruesome reality of war' Patrick Hennessey, author of The Junior Officer's Book Club. 'Desperately moving ... 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' Spectator.

From the Inside Flap

Dead Men Risen, winner of the prestigious Orwell Prize for Books, is the epic story of a beleaguered British battle group fighting desperately to prevent the Taliban from seizing Afghanistan's Helmand province just as the U.S. Marines arrive to take over.

Bestselling author Toby Harnden describes how men from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in the most intense combat faced by British troops for a generation. Underequipped and overstretched, the fighting prowess of the Welsh Guards in the killing fields of Sangin and Nawa awed the U.S. Marines. NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal, who was awaiting a response to his urgent request to President Barack Obama for more troops, hailed their "burn-in-your-gut passion."

Harnden was on the ground with the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. He gained access to a trove of secret military documents and conducted nearly three hundred interviews in Afghanistan, England, Wales, and the United States to produce this timeless and profound account of men at war.

Commanding the Welsh Guards was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, a passionate believer in the justness of the war who was dismayed by the military and political incompetence surrounding it. In chilling detail, Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe—the first British battalion commander to die in action since the 1982 Falklands War—was killed by an IED during Operation Panther’s Claw. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared.

From the searing heat of the poppy fields and the mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home, the reader is transported there. Harnden weaves the experiences of the soldiers, their historical forbears and the flawed NATO strategy into a masterly narrative. No other book about modern conflict succeeds on so many levels. Dead Men Risen is essential for anyone who wants to understand the reality of the Afghan war for the U.S and its allies.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6121 KB
  • Print Length: 641 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1849164215
  • Publisher: Quercus (March 3, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164238
  • ASIN: B004SHE32M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,106 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CYMRU AM BYTH May 2, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is an outstanding work of war reporting and belongs on the shelf of any military history buff and especially those interested in the British army. It is an incredibly detailed , almost day to day , account of small unit warfare, in this case 1st Batt. Welsh Guards. We get inside the personalities of the guardsmen, their families and girls back home. What we see is the relentless nature of the war in Afghanistan where the Taliban are everywhere and nowhere, able to strike at will--where the Guards are forced to come out of their fixed positions and go on patrol never knowing what they will encounter. The book is a deeply moving account of raw courage and compassion from men, many of whom would be considered failures back in civvy street. They are transformed by the Welsh Guards into a purposive and efficient fighting unit continuing the proud tradition of their regiment. Equally fascinating is the interaction between officers and other ranks who usually come from very different social classes. It is the war and the suffering and constant danger that bring them together.

What comes through the book time and again is the terribly sad fact that they are under manned and under supplied and yet get on with their job in good humor. This is an indictment of the British government which wants to play a global role but refuses to pay for it. They lack helicopters, properly armoured vehicles, weapons etc. To take just one example, the U.S.Marines arrive 1500 strong with piles of supplies to relieve 50 Welsh Guards. This sort of thing is not a new story in British military history but it is a disgrace nonetheless.

Read this book to discover the reality of Britain's fourth Afghan war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading on the war in Afghanistan May 31, 2011
By M. Gora
Dead Men Risen is a highly engaging, thorough, and enlightening account of the Welsh Guards' tour of duty in Helmand in 2009. It is entirely accessible to civilian readers, gives detailed portraits of many of the men, but does not stint on military details. The authenticity of this book is underscored by Harnden's painstaking research, and he writes in such a way as to inform the reader without imposing an opinion. It is very difficult to put down (even with the distraction of two squealing toddlers in the background)! I highly recommend this book. It's a rattling good read, and if you have any interest in the war in Afghanistan it is, in my opinion, essential reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MEN AT WAR April 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book by Toby Harden is impressive for depth of knowledge of the subject. The author was supported in his research by the MOD and considering the book describes also mistakes and equipment shortage and failures - it tells a lot about the desire by the higher Echelons to improve by studying past mistakes to correct and make the high sacrifice of the comrades in the field worth the heavy price paid . It describes strategic and tactical problems and solutions but also the very human side of the struggle of the Welsh Guard and attached Units in Helmand and back in the UK . One of the best history book about modern conflict J've ever read . It is an outstanding book - that gives deserved recognition to Commander Thorneloe, all his comrades and their families for their contribution to the security of the Country and the West .
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 5 best war books I've read February 13, 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dead Men Risen (DMR) ranks with the best campaign military histories published in the past 50 years. On my list are The Liberation Trilogy (Rick Atkinson) and Hell in a Very Small Place (Bernard Fall). Toby Harnden's contribution to our understanding of the Afghan war (2001-20xx) in general and the campaign to pacify Helmand Province in particular deserves wide reading by soldiers, civilians, government types, aid workers, political theorists. The latter especially need to know what real war is like in the 21st Century -- a complex hybrid of battle, sustainment, politics, culture, and character that mesh in a dirty, scary, and physically demanding environment.

DMR is the story of the Royal Welsh Guards, one of the five regiments making up the Household (Guards) division (I'm an American, so hopefully Mr. Harnden will excuse if I get some of the detail wrong), which has both a ceremonial (think Buckingham Palace) and combat mission. DMR exposes us to the Welsh Guards history (barely a century now) and its proud achievements in WWI, WWII, and the Falklands. In this latter campaign, the WG's psyche was indelibly seared by the loss of more than 30 guardsmen killed on the Sir Galahad transport ship sunk by an Argentine missile. A few of the guardsmen deployed to Helmand were survivors of that tragedy.

In Helmand, the WG endured some of the heaviest fighting imaginable in an austere environment that was under-resourced, and not well understood. As a measure of the brutal combat, the WG had the unenviable distinction of being the first British army battalion-size unit since Korea to lose as killed in action a platoon, company, and battalion commander. DMR tells the complete story of these incidents, and many more, with realism, humanity, and respect.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
We were so impressed with the documentary we bought the book and read it.
Published 1 month ago by mffy
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing
Engrossing. Strongly recommended to American readers. You will get a much better perspective on what really happened than you will from books published in the US.
Published 17 months ago by F. Kalesnik
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About The War in Afghanistan
As a former senior army officer and with a doctorate in War Studies I can be brief. This is an outstanding book that tells the truth about the war. Read more
Published on May 25, 2012 by Dr Barry Clayton
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Reading if you want to know about the War in Afghanistan
Dead Men Risen is an eyewitness account of British troops, Welsh Guard actually, and their tragic year in Afghanistan. Read more
Published on January 15, 2012 by Kug
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Got this book for my husband. He thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. He loves history and this get him fully interested.
Published on September 18, 2011 by Richard D. Clifton
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but disappointed
I got halfway through the book and am infuriated by the many redacted/censored almost entire sentences. Nowhere in the forward or the back is this mentioned. Read more
Published on May 8, 2011 by SC Photog
4.0 out of 5 stars Dead Men Risen-Amazon
B-day gift for husband,very pleased. "good writer". Hasn't yet read but skimmed and is looking forward to a good rainy day read. A+
Published on May 2, 2011 by momcat
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