I was unaware of Nigel Ely's previous book "Fighting for Queen and Country: One Man's True Story of Blood and Violence in the Paras and SAS," so I came to "Bring Me The Arse of Saddam" cold, with no prior knowledge of the author.
- Nigel Ely
The arse in the title of the book refers to a section of bronze buttock that belonged to the infamous large statue of Saddam, seen on TV being pulled down by US Marines in Firdos Square.
Ely's writing style is similar to that of fellow SAS writer "Andy McNab," in that; it's an informal prose, which reads like you're chatting with a mate down the pub. As a consequence, the pages fly by effortlessly. It's a very easy read and fifty, seventy, a hundred pages seem to zip by, which is my indicator of a well written book.
The book falls into two parts - the push into Iraq as the northernmost unembedded Sky News team led by Ely and the aftermath of the incursion and the bizarre pursuit of the war relic by Derbyshire Police. Both halves of the story are gripping in their own different ways and it was extremely entertaining to read the exploits of Sergeant Sergeant (yes, that's really his name) and the rest of the constabulary running around Derbyshire to the theme tune of Benny Hill, looking for a lump of bronze arse.
Not quite so funny is the wastage of taxpayers' money, time and effort in pursuing something that could be put to great use for veterans. To explain - Nigel Ely put the piece up for sale, with a view to donating the profits to veterans charities. This, he felt, would be a great use of something that represented one of the vilest men in the world. Early estimates of £25,000 - £200,000 spiralled into £7-10 million pounds, due to the high profile of the arse, thanks to the public awareness that Nigel raised.
Sadly predictably, once figures that high were bandied about, someone in power wanted to take the artifact for themselves. Seven million pounds would be enough to add a severe trauma block to the old Headley Court rehabilitation centre. Balance that against a corrupt and greedy Iraqi official's desires and you can see why Ely put himself through so much grief to try and hold on to the arse.
"Bring Me The Arse of Saddam" is an entertaining read, only let down by a handful of proofing errors and a shockingly abrupt ending.
For some, the finale will be good enough, but not for me. I'm not going to go into spoilers, but I wanted more information, more detail and more follow-up. Nigel, how could you leave it like that?
Ending aside, I enjoyed "Bring Me The Arse Of Saddam," its quirky story and lively narrative make up for any shortcomings.
Four out of Five Bronze Buttocks.