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Author Topic: Book Review, Desert Sniper: How One Ordinary Brit Went to War Against Isis  (Read 1709 times)


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So I saw Ian from Forgotten Weapons review this book last week and thought I'd check it out.  You can see his review in the video below.    I listened to it on Audible

It's an autobiographical account by Ed Nash detailing the time he spent in Northern Syria in 2015-2016 fighting Isis as a foreign volunteer.    I thought it was very informative and interesting.  Mr. Nash is an excellent author and the narrator also does a very good job describing the action.   

According to the book, Ed has always been somewhat of a wanderer.  He's spent most of his life traveling around the globe bouncing from one adventure to another doing all sorts of jobs.   He was actually working with a relief organization in Burma  when he decided to go volunteer with one of the Kurdish groups to help fight Isis.  Prior to his time in Syria, he didn't have any military experience and his real world knowledge of shooting and firearms was somewhat limited.  However, he was well educated and in pretty good physical condition due to his prior experiences around the world.  I'm guessing he also had some natural ability, because some of the shooting he talks about later in the book was pretty impressive.  Especially for not having extensive training.   

After making the decision to go and making contact through a somewhat sketchy facebook page and a succession of flights to Northern Iraq,  he joins up with a Kurdish group called the YPG.  After his initial "training" consisting of mostly political lectures and some light physical training, he planned to serve as a media coordinator.   That didn't pan out, and he ended up serving in a "sniper" unit (probably more similar to what you might call a designated marksman here),  and seeing some pretty heavy combat. 
It was really interesting hearing him describe how things were going over there.   There was a lot of information that wasn't really reported in the mainstream media.  One thing that was really interesting was the curious mix of technology available.  For example,  everyone had cell phones with internet service, but they were constantly short of basic medical supplies and military equipment.

The various levels of training were also a big topic.  For the most part,  the foreign volunteers (especially those with military experience), seemed to be in a constant state of exasperation with the amount of bulls___ they had to deal with.   While some of the folks over there were very skilled,  others seemed to be dangerously bad.   It was common to see some of the locals shoot wildly all over the place and then start cheering for no reason.  His description of how he was unable to convince them that the forward assist on the M16 was not a "sniper button" was particularly amusing. 

He did a really good job describing the chaos of combat in Syria.  His unit was constantly dealing with mortar and rocket attacks, and suicide bombers (both on foot and car bombs).  There were several times where he came very close to getting killed.     

At the end of the book, he mentions getting arrested on terrorism charges upon his return to the UK.   He did make one trip back for Christmas in 2015 and at the time, there wasn't really a policy in place to address volunteers.   They didn't seem to care and the guy at customs even congratulated him for helping out .  However,  when he went back home in summer 2016,  the UK had decided to be dicks about it.  At the time of writing, he hadn't been formally charged and they sort of let him go.  However,  even having the arrest on his record is probably going to screw with his international travel and employment for the rest of his life.     

I recommend picking it up if you get a chance.  It's available in audio, and trade paperback. 


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