A follow-up to Ashcroft’s Making a Killing – a memoir of his work as a private security contractor (PSC) in Iraq during 2003-2005 – this new book sees him back in Baghdad to rescue his Iraqi translator, Sammy Mashooen, from the ruthless Shia-dominated Iraqi Police. Sammy – a Sunni Muslim and former officer in Saddam’s air force – had saved Ashcroft’s life in 2005, and when the call for help sounded Ashcroft immediately rounded up a squad of his old Iraqi buddies (ex-British and South African forces) to spirit Sammy and his family out of danger.
Ashcroft – a former captain in the British Army – and co-writer Clifford Thurlow have fashioned another successful adventure story: there’s lots of well-described action and snappy dialogue (a first run for a screen adaptation?), plus larger-than-life characters and sharp detail of life as a PSC in Iraq (there’s a helpful glossary for those of us who don’t know their ACOG from their Egyptian PT).
The plan to drive Sammy and family north to the relative safety of Mosul is scuppered through an intelligence leak (a family member gossips about the proposed escape) and the Iraq Police begin to close in on Sammy, Ashcroft and his team. Short of weapons and vehicles, the escapers are forced to make for Jordan instead. Narrowly evading suicide bombers and a frenzied attack by Shia militia, the escapers finally break out of Baghdad and successfully make the 300-mile dash to the Iraqi-Jordan border. Initially refused entry at the Jordanian border crossing, Ashcroft blags his way into the country on the basis of a spurious friendship with the Jordanian crown prince (they met briefly at Sandhurst) – the first step for Sammy and family to begin a new life that eventually takes them to the United States.
A page-turner that will hold the attention of most military readers, it is also a heart-warming tale of how military comradeship transcends money and nationality.
Virgin Books, 320 pages, £7.99 (p/b); Virgin Books, 320 pages, £18.99 (h/b)
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