Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: “Razor’s Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War” by Hugh Bicheno

Book Review: “Razor’s Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War” by Hugh Bicheno

As several people told, “Run, don’t walk to get this book.” I think that sums it up rather nicely on my opinion about this book. This is by far the best book I have read on the Falklands war. The book is published by Phoenix Paperback and was published in 2006. The page count is 344 pages, with another 14 pages of appendix material, 16 pages of both B&W and color photographs, and 12 pages of listings for bibliographies. There are also 41 excellent maps and diagrams located throughout the book.

A bit about the author first, Hugh Bicheno is a former British intelligence officer that was station at the Buenos Aires embassy in 1974. His mission was to report on the Argentine regime which allowed him to gain many good Argentine connects and have serious insight in the Argentine philosophy about how they viewed the British up to and during the Falklands War. Hugh Bicheno is also a successful historical author, so he also understands how to write to keep things interesting. The author is also not afraid to give his opinions throughout the book, with might turn some off. But even when I found that I didn’t agree with him, I found his opinion very informative. The other thing I liked about the author’s style is that he is not also afraid to place blame where blame should be put, but also gives praise to both sides where it is deserved.

The book has 17 chapters, in addition to a Foreword, Introduction, and Conclusion chapters. The chapters roughly break down into four chapters of the events leading up to the Argentine invasion, one chapter on the men & equipment, one chapter on the Argentine invasion, one chapter on the Falkland Islanders civilians, and the remaining covering the period of time of the British operations to retake the Falklands.

The author is very detailed on the battles at all levels, from the British Task Force Commander to the lowly Argentine conscript. He is one of the first that I have seen that goes into the level of detail to explain which Argentine platoons had their company’s night visions and where they were located in a battle, or the continuous failure of the British 84mm Recoilless Rifles in the army units. Also, the author finally gives the Argentine conscripts the better recognition of their role in the battles and refuses to accept the myth of their great losses and total poor performance by them against the British forces, but at the same time he is willing showing their failure of leadership, logistics, and training. Likewise, he shows the heroics and professionalism of the various British forces, but also writes of some of the pettiness by the various British commanders, the poor conditions of some British troops, and even barbaric acts like severing ears from Argentine soldiers by at least one British soldier.

This book, I think should be an absolute read for anyone interested in the Falklands war. I am extremely happy that I have read it.

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