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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2007
I read a lot of military books and this is one of the best. Capt. Ashcroft has managed to weld action, suspense, humor and political insight into one great tale of modern military conflict. The gruesomeness and tension of life and combat in Iraq is compellingly told. In addition, there are extremely humerous portions that will have you laughing to the point of tears. One caution however: if you're a "Hank the Yank" that hasn't spent time in Great Britain, Australia, or Canada, beware of the "C" word. To me, it just added to the authenticity of the story. What do you think guys are saying to each other in combat situations - Aw shucks?

I would rate this book on par with Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" - one of the best I've read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2007
This is a well written book on modern combat in the middle east. In addition to telling a riveting story, Mr. Ashcroft provides some unique (though often clearly biased) perspectives on the actions of the Coalition Forces in Iraq. Overall, it is a fun and exciting read. I'm only giving it four stars for two reasons: 1) the author struggles to make clear his view of the U.S. military in Iraq. Some passages in the book shower praise on them, while others offer nothing but harsh criticism. He says "I now had the utmost respect for all of them," then turns around and accuses them of being overly anxious killers. 2) The book feels like it was written in a hurry. The writing is high quality and intelligent, but the story feels rushed. Its almost as if the publisher tried to repackage an honest and in depth telling of one man's powerful experiences into a fast-paced, shoot 'em up, action thriller. This may account for #1. Anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in military history, current events, or just plain fun.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I'm US Military and have done two tours in iraq, having talked with private contractors over there and for a time wanted to do the same as them, but decided to stay in the military, though I still have a interest in doing that sort of work...

Capt. Ashford gives a very, very interesting and insightful look into the world of private contractors, giving a sometimes very humerous account of his time in iraq to a sometimes very bleak look of things as they were when he was there.

From Capt. Ashford and his fellow englishman's hilarious banter and rivalry between themselves and their south arfican team-members, who's constant "ja ja..." always manages to bring a chuckle in true afrikaner style, to his own insights into going crazy at a office job and wanting to get back to what he did best and get into the action, to having to deal with their sometimes idiotic and highstrung clients and iraqi co-workers, this book is at times hilarious, at times dark and dismal, and at other times filled with action for any war junkie to enjoy.

People tend to look at people like Capt. Ashford as the dirty, evil mercenary who is willing to do anything for a buck, when infact most are family men with loving children, simply trying to support themselves and their families using the skills they learned in their military career's and putting them to applicable use.

People go to college or technical schools to learn the knowledge and gain the skills they need to get paying jobs in the real world, same as these men but they get the stereotype of blood-thirsty mercenaries.....strange how no one ever chastises the scientist or doctor who is suppose to help people with the skills they have and then goes off and bio-engineers diseases and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, and weapons that can kill more in two minutes than these men could ever kill in a lifetime.....

My bantering asside, I highly reccommned this book to any and all interested in this aspect of the world we live in, the life of a private military contractor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book because I wanted to know what it was really like over in Iraq. I didn't want a 'Everything is great' right wing book or an 'America is evil' left wing book.
I really enjoyed Ashcroft's story. It's full of a great many details about the current situation in Iraq. Since he is a British civilian, (and not a soldier or lefty journalist) he was able to freely critique the American military. I found all of his observations pertinent and unbiased. He tells you very plainly what is and is not working in Iraq.
The main thing I took from this book is the amount of 'tribalism' in Iraq. EVERY single neighborhood EVERYWHERE in Iraq is it's own little tribe. Ashcroft explains how they distrust ALL outsiders, both the USA and al Qaida.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2008
I loved this book. Having read a number of military biographies from the Iraq conflict,I have really enjoyed reading about these front line experiences. I would much rather listen to a soldier who has been there than to some watered down version, delivered by journalists and edited for television. This book is no exception, and the author's experiences with the Iraqis nationals, give the book a different and unique perspective, one sadly that we as civilians leading our lives safely back home are generally kept ignorant of. I only wish the author would consider another book, and am going to purchase the video Shadow Company which he collaborated on... see [...] In my opinion it is up there with the best of them, 'Generation Kill', 'My War','House to House', 'Hard Corps', 'Just another Soldier'and Nathanial Flick's 'One Bullet Away'. I highly recommend all of the above.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2009
This book has some good insight to what is actually going on in Iraq. It is packed with humor, action, suspense, and even a little romance. One cannot help but fall in love with the characters because Cpt. Ashcroft does a fantastic job making sure each is well developed throughout his journey as a hired gun. This book changed my view on not only the Iraq war, but also changed my view on the Iraqi people. Ashcroft does a stellar job giving insight into their native culture and the clashing that is constantly present. Lastly, the book puts a realistic perspective on why the private corporations are over there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2009
A secret army of guns for hire with tens of thousands of operatives are working behind the scenes in Iraq. They are armed - well armed - lethal and immune from prosecution thanks to the law being changed under Mr Bush. Former soldiers, cops, cowboys and misfits, they do the dirty work, guarding convoys, escorting VIPs, even American generals when they take hell highway from Baghdad airport to the Green Zone will be protected by a team of private military contractors - PMCs, the new nice word for mercenaries.

Captain James Ashcroft is one of them. Ex-British army, with a team of Brits and South Africans, he is charged with training a group of 1,500 Iraqis to guard the nation's water supply. They live in the heart of the community and through Ashcroft's experiences, we see how the Iraqis live, work and pray, how the Muslim and western cultures clash and how the notion of bringing what we think of as democracy to what is a medieval society is close to impossible. For Ashcroft, in fact, it is a joke. He sees the funny side of this ridiculous charade. Living daily with road side bombs and insurgent attacks, I suppose you need a sense of humor to survive.

There is a deeper side to his 18 month adventure. Through Ashcroft's skillful story telling, we discover what really took America to war in Iraq and how, six years later, we still can't extricate ourselves. This is a great read with original insights and I suppose it takes an outsider, in this case a Brit, to see into the soul of our own lunacy invading a country in search of weapons of mass destruction when they never had any, a morality tale summing up eight long years of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and a warning: never again. If you are a Bush supporter, or a war advocate, you will do well to read this book, not to have your opinions validated, but to see another point of view from a British officer without any axes to grind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2010
Read this book over a year ago and its sequel. You get your descriptions of guns and gear, but also of tactics and methods of a PSD group that operates differently from a lot of other, larger firms. I found that some of the interactions between the personalities in the story will make you laugh hysterically, yet the author also gives a practical and no-nonsense account of his experience and the gravity of operating in current-day Baghdad. You see a lot of interaction with Iraqis that illustrates the inherent emphasis on friendship and hospitality yet also shows how certain elements of Iraqi culture are extremely alien and incomprehensible to our own Western social practices. I've read MANY different military accounts, both British and American, of regular military, special forces and PSD operators, and Making A Killing is still by far my favorite. I think it is also because there is a "matter-of-fact" tone, not so much jocking/posturing, and if the author has a little pride in his military background and that of his colleagues, you can't fault him for it because a) you find that everywhere else and b) they seem to demonstrate a proficiency worth taking pride in. Hope you found this helpful and if you buy it, enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2008
I found this to be a really enjoyable read. It's definitely action-packed! I enjoyed the candid writing and the Brit perspective. As an active duty U.S. military officer and I found his descriptions extremely accurate and insightful. Here's to hoping he writes another book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2009
I enjoyed the book. James Ashcroft gives you a great ride along with him during his tour of Iraq. Not always the perfect picture you watch on TV or in the movies. Mr Ashcroft did it right.
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