Our foremost military historian offers us a compelling and at times terrifying account of what it means to be a contemporary soldier, written in the words of the men and women of his regiment who are currently completing a dangerous and bloody six-month tour of duty.
In this remarkable book, Richard Holmes draws on the testimonies of the 700 soldiers of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment to capture in vivid detail the average soldier's day-to-day experience of war. Embroiled in a conflict often too dangerous for reporters to cover, these soldiers - most of them young, many without any previous experience of warfare - have kept ongoing records of the drudgery, anxiety and horror involved in fighting a violent and increasingly unpopular war against a ruthless and resourceful enemy. All have risked their lives, and many have died. Others have been recognised and awarded for their courage, resourcefulness and gallantry - Private Johnson Beharry recently became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in twenty-three years.
With these intimate and revealing glimpses of life in the modern army, Richard Holmes paints a sweeping portrait of a new generation of soldiers - grunts, gallants and heroes - and the sacrifices their decision to fight for their country entails.
Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most distinguished and eminent military historians and broadcasters. For many years Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science, he also taught military history at Sandhurst. He was the author of many best-selling and widely acclaimed books including Redcoat, Tommy, Marlborough and Wellington, and famous for his BBC series such as War Walks, In the Footsteps of Churchill and Wellington. He served in the Territorial Army, retiring as a brigadier and Britain's most senior reservist, and was Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment from 1999 to 2007. Richard Holmes died suddenly in April 2011 from pneumonia. He had been suffering from non-Hodgkins' Lymphoma.