We Brits seem to love heroic failures, especially when it comes to the military. The brave few standing against an incoming tide of enemy forces seems to speak to something within us.
And it’s just that love that Bravo Two Zero appeals to with its real life story of a Special Air Service patrol in the gulf war that goes disastrously wrong.
The SAS and its mysterious members are definitely venerated heroes in the eyes of the British public. Men such as Sergeant Andy McNab (real name Steven Mitchell) show both the good and bad qualities of this most skilled brotherhood of soldiers.
While McNab may be a skilled and intuitive soldier he also ignores inconvenient facts and never shows remorse for the violence he commits.
The mission outlined in Bravo Two Zero was a massive clusterfuck from the very get go.
The patrol was ill informed about weather conditions, they were landed far too close to enemy combatants and they were even given the wrong frequency for their radios.
Then everything goes even further south, and fast. McNabs squad supplied the vast majority of both SAS service personnel killed and captured during the Gulf war.
Sgt McNab is a true master of writing non-stop action mixed with brilliant irony and dark humour that keeps you flipping over page after page. It’s the kind of humour British soldiers are well known for.
During a scene where the Sgt is captured and being driven to an Iraqi jail McNab writes, “one of the blokes in front farted. It was an outrageous, really putrid bastard. That’s nice, I thought, on top of everything else I’ve now got to chew somebody else’s shit.”
For his actions during this patrol Sgt McNab who go on to recieve the Distinguished Conduct Medal, part of the shower of decorations that would befall the SAS in general.
In true British fashion they did not receive the medals for results but for the actions in heroic failure. and his patrol in particular.
Bravo Two Zero is a tale about a modern British hero, the kind of tough guy with a sense of humour that you could quite happily have a pint with down the local.
To go from being a nice quick entertaining read though into a truly strong novel it’s his flaws, and those of his comrades, that need to be expanded and explored.
You can join Sgt McNab on his adventure on Amazon.