The best books with first-hand accounts of warzones

Jane Harvey-Berrick Author Of Troll: My Life in Bomb Disposal
By Jane Harvey-Berrick

The Books I Picked & Why

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Afghanistan

By Pen Farthing

Book cover of One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Afghanistan

Why this book?

I read a newspaper article about Pen Farthing in 2008. At the time, I wrote topical assemblies for primary school children and I featured his story about rescuing dogs from Helmand while he was a Royal Marine. Several children wanted to write to Pen. I became the go-between, and Pen and I became friends. He asked me to read his book when it was still in manuscript … the rest is in the news!


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George Cross Heroes

By Michael Ashcroft

Book cover of George Cross Heroes

Why this book?

Lord Ashcroft is a great supporter of veterans, and his book dedicated to the bravest of the brave is required reading. Troll gave me a copy while he was writing his own memoirs and I feel proud that I was able to encourage him.


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The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

By Lester W. Grau

Book cover of The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

Why this book?

Troll told me that he read this book in preparation for his own deployment to Afghanistan. Winston Churchill said about campaigns in Afghanistan, “Financially it is ruinous. Morally it is wicked. Militarily it is an open question, and politically it is a blunder.”

It doesn’t feel like much has changed. 


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How to Avoid Being Killed in a Warzone

By Rosie Garthwaite

Book cover of How to Avoid Being Killed in a Warzone

Why this book?

Most books about the military are written by men. But I was fascinated by this practical tip-based book by journalist Rosie Garthwaite. Wonderful anecdotes amongst real gems for staying safe in dangerous places. I also used it as research for one of my novels about a female war correspondent in Afghanistan.


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Wellington: The Years of the Sword

By Elizabeth Longford

Book cover of Wellington: The Years of the Sword

Why this book?

I read this when I was reading Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books, and I thought Longford’s account of a flawed but brilliant man was astounding. Very readable with in-depth insight and research. It sparked a lifelong fascination with the Peninsular War.


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