Endorsements to the book
Winner of the Templer First Book Award 2021
‘A “state-of-the-nation” book of resounding power, deep conviction and far-reaching significance.’ Richard Davenport-Hines, Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year, 2021
'Akam’s beautifully written, from the inside out, account of the British Army’s reluctance to engage with the realities of recent small wars, in Afghanistan in particular, is a must-read for every serious student of modern military history. At one level, it explains how and why we managed to turn victory over al-Qaeda in Afghanistan into defeat at the hands of the Taliban. But this book is about much more than the army in Afghanistan – it is a parable about failure, the failure of a revered institution, with a proud history and an uncritical public, to come to terms with a changed and changing world.' Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British Ambassador to Afghanistan.
'Simon Akam delivers a devastating indictment of Britain’s military chiefs for overseeing the shocking decline of the nation’s armed forces. His book is compulsory reading for every patriot.' Tom Bower, biographer.
'Simon Akam has written a perceptive, challenging and passionate book that looks at modern soldiering. In doing so, Akam provides an invaluable look at how the British Army works – and how the changing world in the 21st century is asking new and complex questions for soldiers and military strategy alike.' Peter Frankopan, author, The Silk Roads.
'This brave, absorbing and prodigiously well-researched tour de force renders every previous account of the British Army in its disastrous recent campaigns obsolete. Akam makes an unanswerable case that we are no longer very good at fighting wars, building his arguments with panache and good sense. In doing so he has done his country, and the army, a great service - although the Generals may not see it quite that way just yet. Put away the self-serving autobiographies and the obsequious histories of in-house academics; this is the definitive account of the British Army in its 21st century misadventures.' Frank Ledwidge, author, Losing Small Wars.
'[An] excellent and valuable book.' Jason Burke, The Guardian
‘A powerful, compelling, and fascinating polemic.’ William Boyd.
‘Many will disagree with Akam’s conclusions, but it is important that arguments like his are given a proper airing ... I got through all 500-plus pages in two sittings — and it is certainly worth the effort.’ Adrian Weale, Mail on Sunday
‘A valuable addition to analysing the past, present, and future of a venerated institution.’ The Independent
‘Full of gripping reportage and compelling personal stories.’ TLS
‘Persuasive.’ Matthew Parris, The Times
‘Detailed and well structured.’ Anthony Loyd, New Statesman
‘A passionate book.’ Max Hastings, The Sunday Times
‘Akam is an angry young man and the book is better for it.’ Roger Boyes, The Times
‘A brilliant book ... Gets right to the heart of so many of the British Army’s problems.’ Simon Scarrow, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Eagles of the Empire series
‘A timely, elegant, and important book.’ David Patrikarakos, The Spectator
‘The military would obviously like to avoid a close examination of this unbroken string of catastrophes, but Akam’s book is a gentle account — critical, but not unsympathetic.’ Tom Stevenson, London Review of Books
‘A blistering account ... formidable.’ Richard Norton-Taylor, Declassified UK
‘Looks at the changes the British Army has undergone and roles it has played as an almost volunteer sidekick to the American military in the war on terror.’ C.J. Chivers, The New York Times
‘A scathing account of the British Army in the years after 9/11 ... full of forensic detail — and delicious gossip.’ Shashank Joshi, The Spectator
‘Makes many important points.’ Helen Parr, Prospect
‘Beautifully written, evocative and passionate prose ... [The] breadth of research gives Akam’s book immense power.’ Nicholas Stuart, The Canberra Times