Monday, June 11, 2012

Escape from Baghdad - Book Review

Escape from Baghdad by James Ashcroft
Gun-for-hire James 'Ash' Ashcroft thought he'd left Iraq behind. Last time he only got out alive thanks to the bravery of his interpreter and friend Sammy. But now a call for help means Ash must once again face the chaos of war-torn Baghdad - and this time there's no pay cheque. Abandoned by the occupying Coalition Forces, Sammy and his family face certain death at the hands of the Shia-dominated Iraqi Police and the death squads that roam the streets unless Ash and his team can get in and get them to safety over the border. This is the action-packed story of their audacious escape from Baghdad. It is a gripping account of the chaos of war, where the only thing that can be relied upon is the bond between former brothers-in-arms.

Ex-Army captain turned contractor James Ashcroft was one of a team tasked to train a guard force to protect Iraq's water supply in the reconstruction free-for-all following the bombing of Baghdad. His 18 months tasking in company with tough of granite ex-Paras, SAS men and South African mercenaries is by turn humorously and movingly told in his first book Making A Killing.

His interpreter during this period was former Air Force pilot Sammy Mashooen, a Sunni Muslim. Wind forward two years and Mashooen finds himself on a Death List put out by his rival in the guard training programme, Colonel Ibrahim - a Shia, now in charge of the police force. Thanks to the politics of the new 'democracy, American authorities are unable to assist Sammy. Luckily, another old comrade-in-arms, the "good" Colonel McQueen, calls Ashcroft to explain the situation.

Ashcroft rounds up three former colleagues from his Making A Killing days and they return to Baghdad. As Making A Killing refers to making the big bucks they came home with after that first 18 months period, we now see the human side of these dogs of war who spend their own money to return and rescue Sammy and his family.

Secretly supported by American Special Forces, they acquire the arms and three vehicles and drive the family out of the city pursued by Colonel Ibrahim's Shia police and the Mahdi Army. They face suicide bombers, snipers and a full-frontal assault by scores of fanatics in a scene reminiscent of the robbery in Michael Mann's brilliant movie 'Heat' - this, by the way, before they even get out of Baghdad.

This is an edge of the seat, true life adventure that provides both a glimpse into the lives of the ordinary Iraqi, but also a close look at the lives of the men like Ashcroft who may appear 'mercenary' but have their hearts in the right place. Fast-paced and eye-opening, for any one who enjoys the genre, this book is unmissable. A solid four stars and much in keeping with the first book.

Available from:
James Ashcroft
Paperback • ISBN 9780753519844

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