Bravo Two Zero: Torture and Survival in Saddam’s Iraq (20 Years Ago)

It’s been 20 solid years since the printing of Bravo Two Zero. And it’s in the news cause its author Andy McNab was/is in Iraq visiting the location where he was tortured. It is reported that he still wants to “slot” the fellas who tortured him {a sentiment he shared in the book itself}.

If you want to know what kind of s#!t McNab had to put up through when he was captured that makes him feels this way toward his jail handlers, you gotta read this book. Actually, a better reason to read it is if you want to know how people can perservere through pain and refuse to be cowed down by adversity. There’s a Bravo Two Zero movie based on the book but I haven’t watched it, yet.

B-2-0 is all about McNab’s assignment in Iraq hunting down Scuds in the First Saddam-versus-Allies War. The book is written in a nice hey-lad-let-me-tell-you-a-tale style. You can picture him recounting everything as if both of you were best pals or army veterans who met in a bar.

You are told about his early life and then…yeah, you do get to know a little about his entry into the Special Forces. He grips us with the story of his entry into the infantry after which he tried, failed, then tried again and got into the SAS. 

But thereafter, the action unfolds quickly. The Special Forces team land in Saddam’s Iraq, operate behind enemy lines, get discovered by some Iraqi military men and duke it killing a large number of the enemy. Good guns and daring on the part of McNab and team lead to an unexpected victory. But soon things go hairy. While practising evasive maneuvers, part of the team members gets separated and some rural Iraqis spot them. The army is upon their tail and one of McNab’s mates becomes critically ill from hypothermia. Fighting ensues… some of them get captured.  

At first, they are beaten up. Then the indignities start — the stress position, the cells filled with sewage, the terrible tortures. McNab and others are literally broken down. It’s so bad you’ll get angry reading it. Finally, the Iraqi interogators play a ruse that the life of a team member would depend on McNab giving them info on their mission. So McNab gives the  pre-prepared false data.

At the end of it all, McNab is handed back to the Allies but he’s physically damaged and can’t serve in his earlier capacity. Read it if you dare!

Rating: 10/10 in the genre of first-account war stories. Apparently, part of the story overlaps with The One That Got Away. However, some part runs contrary to what is mentioned in The Real Bravo Two Zero. I haven’t checked these two books but those interested in the controversy may want to take a look.

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