Thursday, June 05, 2008

Book Review ~ Eight Lives Down by Chris Hunter

Eight Lives Down
The Story of the World's Most Dangerous Job
in the World's Most Dangerous Place
By Chris Hunter

Eight Lives Down is the story of a British bomb disposal expert, Major Chris Hunter, and his tour in Basra, Iraq. Major Hunter captures you in the first chapter and you know that this is a journey you will take with him - no matter how frightening or sad. It is a journey with true heroes and not for the faint of heart.

The journey with Major Hunter and his team tells of the bombers that infested Iraq - the bombs, the materials, the forensics and the dismantlement of them. I was hesitant to read it at first, knowing how many have lost their lives to the vile IEDs and their various forms (many of whom are on my side bar, including my friend SGT James Craig). But, I know that those who defuse these bombs have a story that is rarely told and a much higher rate of saved lives than lost lives.

I ended up in awe of the men in this profession. The precision and concentration with which they work is awe inspiring. The detail of knowledge that they must have is impressive, and major Hunter tells of the challenging school he had to attend to do his job. As the team becomes more successful, a price is put on his head. Camera crews show up at incidents to film him and the team hoping to capture images of things going badly. We learn about the forensics - the parts made in Iran, the style of the Chechen's or the IRA or others.

We are allowed a glimpse into the family that the team becomes - the shared laughter and sorrow. Although, I must admit that I did not understand all of the British slang, I did understand the meaning!

We have had some remarkable books come out of the Great War on Terror: Lone Survivor, Rule Number Two, On Call in Hell, My Men are My Heroes. This is definitely another one. It is an intense, but great read. It is well written, and you may find yourself holding your breath in parts of it. It flows as if a story is being told aloud, holding your attention through each sentence. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand a part of the story on the ground in Iraq.

To Major Hunter and his team - Thank you - thank you so much for your service, your bravery, and your dedication. The world is a better place because of all of you and I am so grateful.

About the Author: CHRIS HUNTER joined the British Army in 1989 at sixteen. He was commissioned from Sandhurst at twenty-one and later qualified as a counter terrorist bomb disposal operator. He retired in March 2007 from the Defence Intelligence Staff, where he was the Ministry of Defence's senior IED intelligence analyst. He is a former chairman of the Technical Committee of the Institute of Explosives Engineers and continues to serve as a counter terrorism consultant. He works regularly with US military and law enforcement personnel, including a member of government agencies and the US Special Forces. He has served on numerous operations in the Balkans, East Africa, Northern Ireland, Colombia, and Afghanistan and was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his actions during his tour in Iraq.

(I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)


Haole Wahine said...

I was sent Eight Lives Down, and I agree with all you have said. Even with the Brits point of view, it is indeed a good read. I would add one other to your list. House to House by David Bellevia. Rough, but a good read.

Jenn of the Jungle said...

Sounds interesting, might have to give it a read.

House to House is the BOMB!!! And we all know how I feel about Bellavia.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent book, I'd stronly suggest that anyone with the slightest interest, give it a read. You won't be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I am a US bomb tech and this book is exactly what it was like for me in Iraq. I recomend this to everyone in my job field just to see what what we do from the outside view. It also gives us a little credit to the rest of the world.

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you for your service and your work.... Welcome home.

You deserve far more credit than people will hear about - and, I am so grateful.