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Fry The Brain: The Art of Urban Sniping and its Role in Modern Guerrilla Warfare Paperback – October 27, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John G. West, Jr. is an assistant professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University and a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he directs the program on religion, liberty, and civic life.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Spartan Submissions, Incorporated (October 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971413398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971413399
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Diamond on April 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In John West's work, Fry The Brain, he argues that the urban sniper is a critical component to a successful urban guerilla movement. He supports his assertion by arguing that a snipers impact on the morale of the opposing force far exceeds the number of enemy Soldiers he actually engages. West then goes on to further suggest that a sniper can elicit an over response from his enemy which subsequently allows the urban guerilla movement to leverage the media to influence international opinion. Ultimately West firmly establishes his position that a snipers value far exceeds the necessary investment in training and equipment.

Fry the Brain is a long book that really takes an extensive look at the role and impact of the urban sniper through the lens of numerous urban conflicts from Stalingrad in World War II, to the current conflict in Iraq. His historical analysis are absolutely outstanding in general, and provide an excellent foundation for his subsequent discussion concerning the role of the sniper in each battle. West's examination of each conflict is accomplished through an examination of the tactics, and equipment employed by the urban sniper in each of the contingencies, usually through an analysis of a specific sniper or sniper operation. In each case study West focuses on the challenges of infiltration, signature minimization, exfiltration, and the psychological impact of the sniper after the target(s) were serviced. Where ever possible West quantifies the number of sniper related casualties, and subsequently works to extrapolate through various indicators their ultimate impact at the operational level of the conflict.

West expands his examination of the urban sniper by also reviewing the snipers tools of the trade, and modern counter sniper tactics, and technology.
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Format: Paperback
Review by Kirk Windmueller for Special Warfare Magazine (March/April 2009)

Fry the Brain is a comprehensive and revealing look at urban guerrilla sniping, one of the most notorious and least understood disciplines of insurgent warfare. Sniping is a precision tool used by insurgents to surgically target individuals without causing collateral damage. As West notes, "the embodiment of urban guerrilla warfare is the sniper, a lone individual who moves among the people." Snipers use their surroundings to their advantage, taking their shot, then disappearing into the population. Resistance movements and insurgencies of all shades and stripes have made use of the guerrilla sniper.

For many, the quintessential image of a sniper is a young, fit male who is professionally trained, wears a ghillie suit and fires from extreme distances with a high-powered rifle that has an equally high-powered scope. West proves, in case-study after case-study, that not only is this caricature an inaccurate portrayal of the most predominant sniping campaigns and the most prolific snipers, but also that this conventional, rural-centric mindset is often a poor fit and even counterproductive for applications in modern urban guerrilla warfare.

West breaks the mold of the conventionally-minded construct of a sniper and offers a paradigm-shifting perspective on the insurgent tactic of sniping. Fry the Brain shows that some of the most effective snipers had no formal equipment or training and were self-taught. Vassili Zaitsev, World War II's most famous sniper, began his career as a payroll clerk in the Russian navy before he learned how to shoot while fighting the German army in Stalingrad.
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This book is the first of its type that I have read which didnt seem to be regurgitating an army field manual. There is quite a lot of good information here regarding tactics used by both snipers and counter-snipers and pros and cons of both. I found the analysis of the JFK assassination to be particularly interesting as well as the chapter on the DC snipers. I would definitely recommend it to law enforcement and anyone else interested in the subject.
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I love this book! It is incredibly thorough and well laid out.

John West is an ex Army Special Forces Soldier who, as best as I can tell, was not a sniper himself but became fascinated with the reality of urban guerrilla sniping when his Team patrolled in vehicles up on an Iraqi traffic Checkpoint and he and another soldier saw a bullet impact on the fortification of the checkpoint, but no one, even the Iraqis at the checkpoint heard a gun shot. This incident set Mr West off on a personal quest to learn all that he could about the art of urban sniping and document it in this book.

I am incredibly grateful that he did this. I wish I and my fellow Army Infantrymen had this book while we served in SW Baghdad in 2006. We suffered from a minor but consistent urban sniper threat. Fortunately our Company didn't receive any KIAs because of this sniper problem, though we did have 3 soldiers wounded from it. I'm pretty much positive that we were not dealing with the "Juba" group of snipers that shot mostly from ground level vehicles at mostly stationary checkpoints and guard towers. Instead our 3 WIAs were from high angle shots from upper story buildings that were most likely done from within 75 yards and without scopes. At the time we tried to be as aware as we could of the circumstances, and we utilized both our company snipers and a special detachment of SF Counter-snipers, but after reading this book I now realize how much I hadn't been aware of at the time about the art of urban guerrilla sniping and how potentially limited the big Army's concept of sniping was on our ability to deal with this threat. Not to bad mouth our counter sniping capabilities, as the SF and even our Company Snipers, led by my former Squad Leader, were all very capable and striving for adaptation and evolution within the needs of the fight.

This book should be the definitive urban sniping and counter sniping source book for years to come.
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