Afghan Literature: How Sustainable is this Market?

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Andy_S, Sep 23, 2009.

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  1. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    Four questions, if I may.

    Given the currently insatiable public appetite for books about Afghan ops - all of them seem to (a) garner rave reviews in the national press and (b) enter the bestseller lists - I wonder of ARRSERS would rank their personal top five?

    (Personally, I have only read "3 Para" - which I thought was ffrankly over-rated - and "Apache" which is a fine first-person account, but, like all first person accounts, gives little strategic overview or insight. However, would be interested in what I am missing/should read...)

    Is there any Afghan fatigue creeping in? I wonder how many books are stating more or less the same thing(s) as earlier works?

    Are first-person accounts ("Apache," "Junior Ruperts' Reading Club" et al) unit history accounts ("3 Para," "Attack State Red" et al) or more distanced third-person accounts ("Operation Snake Bite" "12 Million Bullets") to be preferred? (And why....?)

    For veterans of the conflict only:
    What is your preferred book and why?
  2. 'Picking Up The Brass' because I needed a laugh in the misery that is Afghanistan. Why do I need to read about it when it's all embedded in my mind?

    The market is sustainable as long as there's people - normally civvies - who get off on war porn.
  3. I know there was considerable amount of cross over in the Basra books, which was interesting to see different view points on the same actions.

    No doubt a different angle on Herrick is required,helicoptors and bayonets are covered maybe a medics eye view or what the LAD saw, AGC contact JPA

    No doubt the SF/SFSG books will have a bit of a lag due to OPSEC.........

    "Junior ruperts reading club" I found to be a good read.
  4. I definately prefer first person accounts but like to read unit accounts to understand the broader picture.

    I also think that while the war involves heavy fighting the public will have an interest in new books. If the campaign is successful and returns to a peace enforcement mission then I fear that interest will wane.
  5. I think they'll lag because (correct me if I am wrong) there are strict agreements on confidentiality signed by those types nowadays.

    PS a Danish guy who was one of "THEM" (the Danish version) has won the right to publish his book on Afghanistan , he seems to have a.....less hen steller opinion of the Brits, "sullen" and somewhat "soft" he called them.
    Hopefully it'll come out in English, it has some interesting stuff in it.
  6. Perhaps another question may be will any of these books be turned in to cinematic success ?

    I'm trying to think of the last British war film that has been a critical and commercial hit ? Perhaps The Killing Fields from 1984 :?
  7. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    RE: Special Forces Lit
    As I understand it, members of the SAS Regt are not permitted to write books due to OpSec reasons; this rule came in following the McNab/Ryan bestsellers, though I am not sure exactly what it was they gave away. I would imagine this is also true of the SBS, who are now taking a much more active and high-profile role in Afghan than they have in previous campaigns. The summer issue of the SBS magazine (remarkably) carried not a single article about Afghan.

    That having been said...with line regiments now so heavily engaged, SF books may have less cachet than they did in the 1990s.
    Then, SF were pretty well the only units to encounter action on a regular basis.
    Now, the whole army is at it.

    RE: Danish Soldiers Book:
    Judging by online comments, Estonians do not have a high opinion of UK troops in theatre, we have all read the leaked memo by the US Marine officer in Afghan, and know what some in the US Defence Establishment think of the UK effort in Basra.

    I don't think the UK military has worked with so many foreign militaries since the Korean (UN Forces) and Malayan and Borneo campaigns (Commonwealth forces) in action (NATO missions in the Balkans were more peacekeeping than war fighting).

    Given the oft-quoted public perception that the UK Armed Forces are the world's best, it will be interesting indeed, to hear what other nations' troops think of our men. I imagine, however that their opinions will vary based on which regiments they are operating with.

    RE: UK War Film
    "Memphis Belle" was actually a British film. Most British war films in recent years seem to be TV efforts (eg "Contact," "Tumbledown" "Bravo Two Zero" etc) War films by their nature require big budgets, but the massive public interest in Afghan books shows, surely, that there are commercial possibilities. However, most war films have appeared long after the wars they depict are over.
  8. Thats not quite true during WW2 a number of films were made about subjects that were less than a year old,in "The Way Ahead 1944 some of the cast, David Niven for one was a serving Major playing a lieutantant, "Target for Tonight" was another film with real aircrew in it, about a bombing mission
  9. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    In fairness they were more Propaganda films and the villinus Hun are always evil (exept Blimp which Churchill wanted banned) you wouldn't get away with that now

    A film about Iraq or Afghanistan depicting the evil Muslims fighting our clean cut troops and how we are winning and no one is getting injured would automatically be banned incase it upset our religious guests and be mocked on here for a start

    Remember in WW2 everything was on in the cinema including the news
    We have 24 hour rolling news now can a film actually show it better than some off the footage we have seen on Sky or Youtube

    Although I feel that the market is getting swamped with Military books many covering the same subject and operations
  10. There is also a large amount of confusion, as in Apache and Apache Dawn where the same story is told quite differantly by the two Authors, and that true names are given in some booka and fake ones in others
  11. Ah yes I forgot all about Memphis Belle which did do very good business in the US which wouldn't have been the case if producer David Puttnam had stuck to his guns and made a film about a Lancaster Bomber crew

    Before I get pulled up further Full Metal Jacket probably qualifies as a British war film since it was filmed in England with a mainly British crew behind the camera
  12. Ah yes I forgot all about Memphis Belle which did do very good business in the US which wouldn't have been the case if producer David Puttnam had stuck to his guns and made a film about a Lancaster Bomber crew

    Before I get pulled up further Full Metal Jacket probably qualifies as a British war film since it was filmed in England with a mainly British crew behind the camera
  13. RE: SF

    Anyone who is badged SF or DV'd to work with SF has had the thumb screws on them so tightly by the MOD that they are forbidden to do any books or reveal anything about any of the work they do by any means. Current serving SF are generally in my experience are very anti books as they feel they reveal tactics to the enemy and compromise their work so wouldn't do one anyway. Apache was not received at all well by Poole and Ed Macy shouldn't head to Dorset any time soon.
  14. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I couldn't agree more. I remember in 2003 a Sky team were embedded with a battlegroup (might have been Scots DG - were they up front?) and they were showing pictures of CR2s waiting to cross the start line and ruin somebody's day in a village a km or two to the front.

    I took me right back to BAOR with a shiver down the spine cos I knew it was for real and about to kick off.

    I seriously considered throwing a sicky, but I don't do that sort of thing.