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Spin Zhira

Chris Green
This is a book about a man who responds in his own way to what might be known as a mid life crisis. Having served in the British Army some fifteen years ago he had now become relatively successful in marketing. With an attractive wife, two sons, a rather nice house, a keen interest in skiing, and the sort of cars he wanted it would be reasonable to assume he was settled. However, life is never that simple and a combination of occurrences were the initial cause of a somewhat life changing situation. Attending a regimental function which his wife was apparently not really in favour of, attending the funeral of a previous comrade, and the fact that that his marriage was beginning to crumble, if not fall apart, made him realise there was something else he wanted to do. He intended to join the Territorial Army and serve alongside the regular Army in Afghanistan.

A considerable number of pages describe the increase in time spent with the Territorial Army and preparation for deployment to Afghanistan while his work and marriage deteriorate until his wife finally moves out with his two sons and he is obliged to sell the family home. After this he describes his efforts to ensure he is the one in his unit to be mobilised for duty in Afghanistan. Eventually being selected to go as the battalion’s Information Operations officer Chris covers some of the time he spent on training exercises in Canada and Sennybridge as well as certain courses the contents of which were necessary for his role.

During his time in Afghanistan he realises that there are certain ways of doing certain things and questions some of them. What he is not quite so prepared for is the amount of corruption involved where the local population is concerned and the way in which he sees the military attitude toward it. In his notes Chris points out just how much is wrong with the British military machine and his attempts to do something about it, but he finds himself upsetting some rather formidable people resulting in him having the error of his ways being pointed out to him. He makes fairly light of his time out on patrol with others but one lesson is brought home to him sharply when he manages to lose contact with his comrades on a patrol and experiences some very disconcerting minutes where contact with the enemy is likely.

The author makes it quite clear that although he had never made any notes during his time preparing for and in locations in Afghanistan, it is a true story but does explain it is his own version of the truth. To that extent there are passages which are obviously fiction and help to complete the scene pertinent to what was actually happening.

The appendices cover his point of view after his return to England as well as those who killed and what has happened to some of those who did return alive. In view of the military terminology the final appendix does give a fairly comprehensive glossary.

Although written from the point of view of one who can recount what has happened to part of his life, the book seems to be for the younger civilian reader and would rather imply that he, the author, certainly knew far more than some other people.

The sketches which appear at intervals seem to have a childlike quality of innocence but this is denied by the way in which the locations and periods described have been annotated. The narrative jumps about quite a lot and it is necessary to keep referring to the grid references and date-time groups in order to ascertain what is happening, where and when. This is not always helpful when the location given does not tie up with what is being described.

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