Not a Good Day to Die - a brief review

Mr Happy

Not a Good Day to Die is an extremely factual account of a botched operation in Afghanistan - codenamed, eventually, as Operation Anaconda. It was, depending on which part of the book you are reading the largest US set piece battle ever/in Afghanistan/on the war on terror/since world war 2/since the gulf war. And that is one of several issues with the book, it continually makes comments filling inbetween the factual combat reports and repeats itself - demonstrating a lack of editorial control. At one stage the left hand page informs the reader that 3 people were late and on the right hand page it repeats itself.

Another issue with the book is that it refers to all the characters pretty much from the word go and so the reader is assaulted by 50 names in the first chapter and slowly those names die out or re-appear or are added to. Because of this you are never really sure who is who and what they are doing. Perhaps this was a style to subject the reader to the confusion on the battle and preparatory stages, but all it really means is that you don't know what the author is talking about. Another frustration is the avoidance of using ranks (apart from the first introductory mention of the individual) this means that you are never sure if the author is complaining about the X not talking to Y because X reports to Y or because X didn't talk to Y for some other reason. Its a real hotch-potch.

Lastly, the book lacks an ending, it culminates in a demonstration of why US special forces aren't all very special but fails to deliver conclusions or lessons learned, though the reader may have grasped most of the points as they read through the book, the lack of a conclusion simply means you are left wondering if the points (often contradictory as the author quotes often 'both sides of the argument') are supposed to add up to anything.

On the positive, its a good read, exciting, apparently accurate and very descriptive. If you are looking for a factual book, can remember who is who and know something about the military then you'll enjoy it, even if it makes you blood boil at some of the stupid events.

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