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by Bob Shepherd
After 20 years with Britain's Special Air Service regiment, Bob Shepherd left the army to sell his specialised skills on 'the circuit', the expanding network of private military companies that provide security services to governments, corporations, NGOs and media organisations operating in the world's trouble zones. Whether he is running CNN camera crews past trigger-happy Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, searching for western reporters missing in Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the 2003 invasion or encountering Taliban drug lords in Afghanistan, Shepherd's book has enough action to satisfy the armchair adrenalin junkie. At least as riveting is his assessment of the tactics adopted by western governments in their war on terror. The verdict is damning. He describes the US army officer north of Baghdad who believes his mission is 'to kill Iraqis'. He tells us about the British close-protection team so incompetent they lose the ambassador they are supposed to be guarding. And above all, there is his enthralling insider's account of how much of this war has been outsourced to commercial companies all too ready to risk casualties in their pursuit of profit.