Sunday, April 29, 2012

29. Special Deliverance by Alexander Fullerton

Normally, I do not pick up action books that seem to be to military in their nature.  I do enjoy reading about war and the exploits of men and women in war.  But there is a point where a book can become to war-nerdy, with an emphasis on equipment and procedure and very little intrigue or human interaction.  So I was a bit reluctant to purchase this book. But the cool cover and its taking place during the Falklands Islands War—a little piece of history that I could do to learn more about—turned the table.

I'm glad I did, because while this book did have a lot of war stuff, especially sections on the boat where there was just way too much jargon, it was, as they say, a cracking read.  The main character is Andy McEwan, a civilian who gets dragged along on a commando mission in the Falklands to secretly disable a stockpile of missiles that are proving to be quite deadly to the British ships.  McEwan is brought along because the missile base is not far from his family land, where he himself grew up.  He's the perfect insider to help the elite SBS (Special Boat Service, bad ass commandos who deal specially with water and water craft), even though he is estranged from his older brother who runs the farm and who, as we learn later, is a high-ranking officer with the Argentine army.  Even worse, he is married to the woman Andy still has a hankering for.  

So there is lots of human interest stuff along side the military action.  Though the periods on the ship were a bit dull for me, the commando sections were really cool.  These guys are all about getting in and getting out without anybody knowing, even though they could kick everyone's ass if they had to.  They are experts in building hides, camouflaged hidey-holes where they spy on their target.  This book has one of the more exciting scenes of guys sneaking into a compound that I have read in a while. It's the kind of incomplete sentence action writing that doesn't always work for me, but worked splendidly here.  Just super cool with them scaling a barb wire fence in a specific order, one guy covering the barbs so the others can climb over him faster. 

The other thing I enjoyed about this book was that it gave me a new perspective on the Falklands War.  That went down when I was in grade 7 and our teacher had us all bring in clippings about it as a way to teach us how to pay attention to current affairs.  I remember the attitudes at the time being generally strongly anti-British.  They were portrayed as sabre-rattling aggressors in a useless war, not unlike the U.S.'s later invastion of Grenada.  Now Fullerton's book is not jingoistic, but it is certainly pro-British.  However, I did not know at the time that the Argentine government was a military junta, with a history of atrocities, who was using the war as a way to distract their rebelling society from an ongoing economic crisis.  In fact, their loss of the war led to the junta collapsing and Argentina setting up a democratic structure that is in existence today.  Thatcher and her cronies were certainly no good guys and their ushering in of the neo-con shitfest we are struggling through today (the long-term effort to move money from the public to the private realm) was majorly bad.  But despite that, it can perhaps be historically seen that the Falklands War was a good strategic move for the world.  

It looks like Fullerton has written quite a lot.  I will look a bit more into his oeuvre for sure.

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