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Sniper One: On Scope and Under Siege with a Sniper Team in Iraq Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. When the 1st Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, under Mills's command, was told they'd be heading to Iraq in November 2003, the war was no longer much of a news item in Britain. But, says Mills, We didn't give a toss... we were going somewhere interesting. The battalion was assigned to al-Amarah: 400,000 people and a center of support for Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Under heavy sniper fire and mortar attacks, British peacekeeping gave way to a full-scale military operation. Mills powerfully describes the demanding work of his snipers before and after the city was brought under control (more or less). The work's real value is its insight into the contemporary British army. Mills and his comrades are professionals, unconcerned with the wider aspects of their assignment; They'll fight out of their skin for you, Mills notes. One man deals with stress by masturbating. Another fails to deal with it, and his transfer is matter-of-fact, with no moral dimension. British participation in Iraq has been largely ignored in the U.S. That should change with Mills's page-turning account, already an international bestseller. 16 pages of color photos; map. (Sept. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When a battalion of the Prince of Wales’ Royal Regiment landed in Iraq in 2004, Mills commanded the 18 men of the sniper platoon. His gripping combat narrative covers how the platoon did more than its share of the fighting during the months when the Iraqis virtually besieged the battalion. The enemy was zealous and well equipped with small arms, grenades, and mortars, and the local civilians were either hostile or trying to keep their heads down. The platoon’s combat record involved wounds for most of it members and decoration for many, including Mills; one man won the first nonposthumous Victoria Cross in 38 years. Quite apart from its excellence as a combat narrative, Sniper One is a valuable portrait of the British army, a force small in numbers but high in quality that still emphasizes mastery of the basic skills of the infantryman. Possibly the year’s best book, so far, on combat in Iraq. --Roland Green
Top customer reviews
Additionally, this isn't written in the Queen's English, which is also refreshing. I got more of the feel of what it would be like to have been in Iraq with this troop because Sgt. Mills was using everyday language.
Personally, I would have liked to have read a bit more about his first-hand sniper work but there was enough other action to keep the book interesting. But I'm finding that this is kind of a British thing. Brits tend to be much less dramatic about what they did on a day to day basis while in the service and more about sharing their glory with their mates. I can definitely appreciate this but with a title like "Sniper One" I was figuring there would be more sniper work covered. (I learned that 'Sniper One' is the call-sign of the sniper company's commanding officer. He is the head sniper but much of his work was away from the cross-hairs.)
The only things missing from this book are the same things missing from most military books...maps and a glossary. There needed to be maps in order for the reader to better follow along. Also, a glossary would have been nice for those of us that don't know things like rank and the size of various fighting units.
Mills gives an ever so brief account of his life before going to Iraq. The build up was almost movie-esque as Mills leads you towards the climax with teasing tidbits about conflict elsewhere compared to their peaceful existence in Iraq. This is soon shattered as Mills' patrol accidentally parks next to the Iraqi insurgency headquarters. From there on the fighting grew more and more intense. Just as quickly as the fighting started, though, it seemed to die down as the Brits finally took things on the offensive and showed the Iraqi fighters what they are capable of. This seemed to quiet things down some. They even got to take a leisurely swim in their swimming pool. This is where Mills memoir shines. The conflict erupted again, completely surrounding the British in their compound. RPGs and AK47s were constantly bombarding them, not too mention mortar rounds dropping on them at all times of the day.
Mills does an expert job of describing the action as it ebbed and flowed. Just as you though the fighting was done it would erupt with more intensity. When one all out attack ended you learn it was just a probe to see how the British responded, leading to the even bigger assault on the complex. Mills drops in some exciting anecdotes throughout, constantly showing the reader what its like in a war torn city on an everyday basis. Ultimately the British could have leveled the city, but that wasn't their purpose there. The "special forces" bloke who made it in past enemy lines was evidence of this as he brought in the mother lode of all sniper rifles and called in a precise aerial attack on a mortar team.
In the end Sniper One is an amazing account in one man's tour in a war torn country, constantly under siege. Mills does an excellent job in not only telling his story but in describing everything with such an ebb and flow that it kept me interested throughout the whole memoir. Just as I thought it was over the attack resumed. A definite recommend.
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Thanks for sharing Dan