‘SPIN ZHIRA is one of those superb reads that bristles realism and immediately immerses the reader in an Afghanistan full of dark humour, testosterone, military hardware and controlled violence – first class’
Doug Beattie MC, bestselling author of An Ordinary SoldierTask Force Helmand  and Reaper.doug-beattie-books

‘SPIN ZHIRA vividly conveys the disjointed essence of modern warfare and the impossibility of balancing the adrenaline of combat with ‘normal’ life. This book brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club and Kandakkandak-and-jorc

‘If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then SPIN ZHIRA is a must read.’
Lt Col Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zone and An Active Service

‘This is the best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read.’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars and Investment in Blood.

‘Absolutely fantastic. Vivid. Tragic. True.’
Dr Mike Martin, bestselling author of An Intimate War, Crossing the Congo and
Why We Fight.Mike Martin books

SOLDIER, the official magazine of the British Army, awards SPIN ZHIRA five stars.
Soldier Review

‘This book is not just for soldiers. It’s a very engaging account that should be read by all those interested in the world about them. Let’s hope it is available on bookshelves for many years to come.’
William Reeve, former BBC World Service and Afghanistan Correspondent


Amazon Five Stars A PLEASURE TO READ
‘Refreshingly honest and humourous, Green writes with a mixture of male bravado, astute sensitivity and wit creating a raw and very human depiction of war in Afghanistan. The brilliance of this book lies in Green’s empathy and respect for all those he meets on his journey. A roller coaster of emotion and adventure. A real page turner and a pleasure to read.’
Amazon Five Stars I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN
‘Chris Green’s skilfully written story is immediately and continually engaging as he takes you on his personal journey; re-entering service in the British Army as a relatively old man, 15 years after resigning his first commission. From a failing marriage and a successful but unfulfilling career Chris’ desire for adventure takes him to the top of beautiful mountains to ski fresh powder and to the bottom of human existence fighting a war against insurgents in the heat of Helmand Province. Along the way experiencing the emotional reality of perhaps never seeing his two boys again, the fear of not being fit and able enough to get back to the front line and the utter frustration of seeing stupid decisions from our governing classes adversely effecting the lives of Chris fellow soldiers and the Afghan people they were there to help.

Ultimately Chris Green’s personal journey has resulted in an amazing achievement, the publication of a book which seems to have nothing but positive reviews. Personally I found it a brilliant read; intelligent, interesting, exciting, insightful, darkly funny and often tragic, I think Spin Zhira should be read by anyone from the Government, the civil service or the armed forces who are making policy decisions, strategy decisions or logistical planning decisions with regards to British or Nato involvement in Afghanistan. Indeed the government should appoint Chris Green to help shape policy and strategy for Afghanistan. Spin Zhira shows that its author understands the country better than most; the people, the history and the complexity of the situation which has seen the Afghan people suffer continually at the hands of invaders, insurgents, enemies, supposed friends and one another.

Spin Zhira also shows that we can achieve amazing things, if this is a mid life crisis then perhaps we should all have one.’

Amazon Five StarsAMAZING READ!
‘A true account of Afghanistan and a man’s reasons for being there. No holds barred, no glits and glamour but true thoughts and feelings. The most real account you will find. Job well done.’
‘I spent hours at a time reading this, a truly insightful piece of writing. The stories of Afghanistan are humbling and vivid, but it is the story of the struggling man behind the events that captures the reader. Well worth the modest price for what it delivers, not only in a good story but also in the information not known to the public about the war.’
‘Spin Zhira tells the story of Chris Green’s service in Afghanistan. It is a gripping account about the people Green encountered during his time and his skilful prose and eloquence bring the reader right into the narrative. He gives a refreshingly honest account of the strategic mismanagement of the campaign and the frustrations he endured in trying to do the job the Army sent him to do in Helmand.
Green pulls no punches in the way he has written this book. Against the background of his preparation to deploy he describes in detail the disintegration of his marriage and his relationship with his two sons. In this sense it is a deeply personal account of more than just one man’s military campaign and for this it is an even more powerful story.
Brilliantly written and humblingly honest, Spin Zhira is arguably one of the best books I have read in a long time. If you are going to buy any book about what it was like to operate in Afghanistan, Spin Zhira is it.
‘How do I judge a book? Simple, if I can’t put it down it deserves to be recommended. Spin Zhira is one of those books, an insightful and darkly humorous account of one man’s personal journey from the rat race of materialism to personal fulfilment. The difference from other’s journeys is that he chose to take that journey in one of the most dangerous places in the world, Helmand Province in Afghanistan. The reader is more than ably taken on that journey by the author and you are left at the end with a far greater understanding of the dangers faced by both those who have been sent to that part of the world and those who have lived all their lives in it. Since we can’t assume our own political leaders will choose to make that same journey they should at least read this book, they would learn an awful lot from it as well as enjoy one man’s unmissable journey.’
‘In a nutshell, former Army Regular has a mid life crisis, joins the Reserves to serve a tour in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In this book he tells it how it was …. from the enlisting, the pre-tour training, the tour and coming home and doing all this whilst managing his car crash of a personal life. Chris tell the whole story from the heart, nothing polished or Political Correct about this book … just an honest account of what happened.’

‘A riveting, frank, on-the-ground account of the Afghan conflict and the role of the British Armed Forces.
This very personal account feels honest and real, offering a very different perspective from the mainstream, stylised war story fayre.
Its an entertaining page-turner and I thoroughly recommend this book.’

‘Great read. Outrageous, insightful and full of dry humour. Friends have been asking to read it after me but I enjoyed it so much I’m reading it again.’

‘Having served in many of the ‘contretemps’ in which the UK has indulged over the last 20 or so years I have, over time, developed a certain cynicism as a result. While I remain extremely proud of (most of) the men and women of our Armed Forces, I despise the way in which politician after politician, cravenly aided by the Military’s senior management, throw blood, treasure and national goodwill gleefully into ill-judged foreign adventures aimed, it seems, at not much more than keeping a stool near the top table of world affairs. In the process, UK PLC cynically abuses the adventurous spirit and immaturity of our young men and women, wrapping opportunism and realpolitik in the glorious flag of national endeavour. Ian (M) Banks sums up the perversity of this nicely “..there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.”

Spin Zhira documents the journey of a middle aged man attending to his own personal crisis by seeking out the purity of the warrior life. In heart-rendingly clear prose he takes us with him through the hope, shock and disillusionment of his journey. In this groundbreaking book Chris Green lays bare the inept group-think that typifies UK Defence policy in the 21st Century. Under-resourced, with no clear objective and even less understanding of the history, people and culture of Afghanistan, the brigade of which Chris is a member is a microcosm of western military impotence in the face of an implacable and wily enemy among an (at best) indifferent and (often) hostile population.

We see through Chris’s eyes the wishful thinking of the NATO forces who can’t acknowledge the Sysiphean nature of their task, the perversity of metric-driven ‘progress’ that won’t seem out of place to students of Vietnam and the utter futility – obvious to the long-suffering Afghans – of the whole damn thing as a result. The story of his deployment is played out against the background of despair at an imploding marriage and his desperate attempts to maintain meaningful contact with his much-loved children, and this provides a stark counterpoint to his experiences in Afghanistan – laying bare the conflict between man as soldier and man as father.

Spin Zhira provides a worms-eye view of the reality of modern conflict without the bombast and hubris common in so many other books about war. I read this book with the benefit of similar experiences and it transported me right back, such is the power of Chris Green’s observation and writing – it is so gripping that I finished it in two (long) days. It is a great partner to Mike Martin’s ‘An Intimate War’, and after reading them both you’ll probably be a wiser and angrier person.’

Amazon Five Stars A VERY GOOD READ
‘This book is not just for soldiers who have fought in Helmand and in other conflicts. It’s a very engaging account in the voice of a soldier that should be read by all those interested in the world about them, and especially by civilians involved in any way with conflicts. Chris Green is certainly very blunt about one and all, about their strengths and weaknesses and about how they deal with often very difficult, sad or indeed absurd situations. He is also very engaging about his own thoughts day by day, making poignant observations on often very serious issues, told with colourful examples. Let’s hope this book is available, especially on bookshelves, for many years to come, as the valuable insights on its pages are well worth heeding — and very enjoyable to read.’

‘Chris does a fantastic job with his compelling portrayal of the comradeship, intensity, and ultimate futility of the the third (or is it fourth?) Anglo-Afghan war. Told in his typically self-deprecating style, he has a wonderful way of brushing past his achievements and abilities, distracting the reader with his (few) mishaps whilst focusing the reader on the strengths of others around him. This brings the book alive for me. Knowing Chris from the training for his Afghanistan deployment, I only saw the confidence and clarity that he showed, rather than the vulnerabilities that he reveals in this book.
As such, this personal side of the story means that it should appeal to almost everyone, as it is more of a book about people – rather than war and fighting (although there is enough of that for an ‘elderly reservist’ to deal with). Thoroughly recommended.’

‘A gripping and frank true life account of one ex-soldier’s odyssey, as he swaps mid-life crisis on Civvy street for a dangerous journey of adventure and re-discovery. Chris delivers his own unique personal perspective on life with The British Army as they attempt to bring Western ideals to Taliban infested Helmand province.’

‘A real page turner, one that had me reading consistently way too late into the night.

A very soul bearing account of rejoining the army as a middle aged man.
There are plenty of narratives written that portray military campaigns as a successful application of doctrine & tactics; also many more about leadership lessons learned in combat situations. This is neither of those, it’s a gritty and honest account of one man’s experience that doesn’t pull any punches. The wisdom of experience shows through in his thoughts & self confidence (to question / challenge the party line).
The tally of killed and injured soldiers that runs through the book is a stark remainder of what our forces are up against, but he also takes the time to contemplate life from the other side of the street.’

‘Beautifully crafted. A touching record and humble insight into a world in which, thankfully, most of those we care so dearly about remain blissfully unaware. You can not fail but to be moved on so many levels.’

‘Spin zhira delivers a refreshing take on an already crowded genre. It appeals to those with a purely military interest and those with none whatsoever. Central to this achievement is how the book unsparingly exposes the author, warts and all, to the reader. This is much more than a tale of the war in Afghanistan. It deals with the insecurity and personal tribulations of one man set against the back drop of the front line and British foreign policy in such an honest way the reader can’t help but be both moved and enthralled.’

‘One of the best first hand accounts of our recent wars that I’ve read. Freed from the censorship of the MoD, Green writes with a refreshing and fascinating frankness. The threading together of both the ‘war stories’ and Green’s ‘home front’ is powerfully done.’

‘I have read and re-read Chris Green’s engaging account of his successful struggle to cope with the strangeness of pre-deployment training followed by operations and post-deployment life. He has an easy writing style that carries you through the book at some pace. It is clearly an authentic account of his deployment told with attention to personal detail but pleasingly without the usual machine gun from the hip (in pants – although this does actually happen). At the same time he highlights the strategic problems with our intervention in Afghanistan using the story of the excellent British soldier, in particular the Ribs. In effect, it is an important parable about a set of significant events told engagingly with a wry sense of humour. Get it.’

Really enjoyed this book. A rather unique hybrid perspective on combat in Afghanistan, somewhere between civilian and soldier. A man who decided to quit a successful job and life to go and get shot at. Recommend.’

‘Experience and passion over material goods and possessions. Almost none of us have the courage to live our life fully.

This book provides an insight into the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Army operating in a misguided if well intentioned war, battling cultural differences and then rotating out at the end of each tour just as they have learnt enough to be useful.
It also is a life renewal story extracting himself from a failing marriage and a unfulfilling career in order to rediscover himself and to become a role model for his beloved boys.’

‘Spin Zhira is a compelling examination of choice. Chris Green explores the landscape of war, committment to cause and honor, juxtaposed against the heartbreaking love for his children and the persistent call of the untracked snowfield and it’s descent into the unknown. A journey of love, service and adventure that takes both the author and the reader to the soul of self discovery and humble acceptance of their limitations and capabilities. Excellent.’

‘Great wit and laugh out-loud-humour in the face of such dark, dark circumstances, both personal and political. A story of survival and understanding in impossible circumstances and a rare insight into the real mid life male with no mention of lycra !! I’ve recommended it to my sons and my girlfriends – a great read by anyone’s literary standards.’

‘A superb book which really encapsulates life on the front line from a very different perspective. Stylishly crafted from beginning to end, and allowed me to properly get understand, and almost relive, what it must have been like during that tour of duty. I would definitely recommend this book – it’s a modern warfare literary classic!’

As someone who volunteered to join a previous War with the Grenadier Guards, this book was intriguing to me. The fact that it was recommended to me by one of the characters within the pages and the fact that I personally know some of the others, marked it out as a ‘Must read’.

I wasn’t disappointed.
What the author has achieved with this book, is to highlight – often hilariously, sometimes with great pathos and occasionally with sadness and frustration – the reality of a war without real objectives.
When I say that I’m not – in anyway – trying to diminish what the lads out there were trying to achieve on a local level.
But the fact is (and still remains) the initial role of the British Military in the occupation of Helmand was never fully thought through – “There and back with no shots fired?”
It was often a cobbled together ad-hoc operation and latterly (it seems), it was reactionary, rather than proactive. Lacking the coherent strategies usually found in a “Go to war, kill the enemy, come home for tea and medals” kind of operation.
Almost like a deadlier and dustier version of Northern Ireland.
The author, who is better placed than most to understand the bigger picture of the sometimes seemingly pointless Patrols/actions, highlights his own personal frustrations without ever succumbing to despair (well almost). His sense of humour was quite clearly high on his packing list and it’s presence is always welcome in the darker pages of the book.
A tale of a successful Man, frustrated by life’s limitations?
A tale of a Warrior, seeking a last – defining – battle?
A tale of a weak government, sending soldiers into war without a clear objective?
All of the above.
A great book, enormously informative and equally funny, poignant & real.
Highly recommended.
“Every Man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier”
Look forward to the next installment of your journey Sir.

‘Spin Zhira is a honest and accurate account of Chris’ operational deployment to Afghanistan where he had a unique role which saw him engaging with a vast array of characters from NATO generals through to local shop keepers. His personal reflections have captured the smells, noise, heat and tension from one of the most dangerous districts on the planet; the prose has recalled many personal experiences I have from the same area which highlights Chris’ unique skill in being able to transport the reader from the sofa and on to the streets of Gheresk.

I am usually cynical towards books that have come out of Afghanistan; this was not the case with Spin Zhira as Chris delivered his story with such a raw edge that I couldn’t help but be hooked. Soldiers are normally sent on operations due to the rotation that their regiment is sat on, however Chris, as a reservist, sought out and chased the opportunity in order to shake up his own life and find meaning for himself and his cherished sons

Well done (this would be 10 stars if Amazon let me)! I’ll be revisiting this again shortly as I suspect it will be even better the second time around.’

‘A surprisingly wonderful book that captures the real humanity of a man’s entanglement in love, life and war with modesty and humour. Never lacking in intensity,  Chris lets you tag along on the front line of his life on and off the battlefields of war and marriage without compromising the humour and absurdity of the situations he lives. Bravo Chris, I look forward to more of your work. I give this book the 5 stars is merits, now give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the ride.’

‘The unauthorised nature of this book makes it essential reading for anyone that wonders “why, how, and why?” about the end of the British military’s involvement in southern Afghanistan. Chris Green blends a knowledge of the ground-truth (serving right on the front line in Helmand shoulder to shoulder with the Grenadier Guards) with a strategic look at the whole situation in Afghanistan, without the trouble of having to toe the MoD’s official line. His frequent friction with the campaign’s headquarters is a modern day Catch-22, but the main theme reads as an engaging and intelligent epilogue to The Junior Officer’s Reading Club. Entertaining, thought provoking, and compulsory to read!’

‘Like all very good books this one is difficult to pigeonhole into a genre. Is it an Andy McNabesque tale of daring do during the war in Afghanistan? 
Yes, but it is much, much more. Is it also a sharp history of that war from an insider’s viewpoint? Yes, but that’s far from all. Is it a personal story of family, divorce and despair (AKA midlife crisis). Yes, but… Is it a satire on how politicians give their Armed Forces an impossible job to do and the Armed Forces just get on with it? I could go on, but I won’t. It is obviously all these things. And that is why it is a very good book indeed.

‘A wonderfully honest, moving, irreverent and humorous personal account of one man’s involvement in a brutal war Chris manages to convey a real and deeply moving message to the reader. A great read, highly recommended.’

Amazon Five StarsREAD THIS AT ONCE
‘Possibly the best book I have read for 20 years about modern conflict. Anyone who has an interest in the recent war in Afghan should read this at once. It is an eye opener to the issues our forces faced daily over there, from the men on the ground to those in direct contact with the Afghan government. If you are after a ‘gung ho’ all guns blazing war story this probably isn’t for you. This is a funny, sad and thought provoking but totally honest account of Chris Green’s tour as a Reservist Officer, quite unique in my view. A great read and one to keep on the bookshelf!’

‘This is the first critical account of the UK’s mission in Afghanistan, written from a personal perspective, that I have seen and I found it a surprisingly cathartic read. The author skewers the shortcomings of the misadventure very neatly without letting his criticism turn sour, and the account is framed against his failing marriage which makes an appropriately futile background.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful and personal reflection on the problems that come from ill-judged military intervention, this is the book for you.’

‘This is a cracking read by a bloke who decided it’s never too late to try something different (or in his case to go back to something he’d tried earlier). The well-paced narrative examines the extremely personal decision of the author to give up what many would consider a successful life, in order to pursue adventure whilst in the service of his nation. It consists of twin themes of the examination of this decision and his personal perspective on military misadventure in Afghanistan. For any who had any interest in this confusing theatre of war, it will make uncomfortable reading as no punches are pulled and the stark realities of sending an under-resourced force without any real strategic endstate are laid to bare. However the book is laced with the black humour that has served the British soldier so well over many years and many other seemingly futile escapades, and this ensures a lightened tone.

Thoroughly recommended and should be essential reading for any future political or military strategists considering an ill-defined or poorly supported campaign.’

‘Spin Zhira is a story of perspectives; from a man’s loss of centre in a civilian world to his loss of comrades and sometimes his own truth in a very modern conflict in Afghanistan , Chris shares his journeys through challenge, hope, fear and disillusionment without ever letting us lose sight of the real costs of this war. With the backdrop of his own world forever in the picture, his analysis of the tactical delivery of such a large politically directed campaign has lessons for plenty of organisations outside of the military sphere.
There have been many stories of close shaves and lucky escapes, but Chris has kept the bravado to himself and focused on the heroism of others and the lunacy of self-deception which is prevalent through many parts of our society. It is never more poignant than when the cost can be counted in lives, the future of a nation and families separated by cultures, languages and thousands of miles at the hands of RAF hospitality. Chris manages to keep humour a constant thread and reminds us of one of life’s most important lessons.
When you have nowhere left to run….. buy a ski pass. If cherry powder doesn’t fix your ills, it’ll get you through.
I’d be amazed if there isn’t more to come from this author. The mix of an experienced soldier’s dry pragmatism with the analytical skills of a civilian sector marketer makes for a very clear comment in war, mid-life, love and whichever truth you choose to believe.’

‘A great read with an interesting mix of personal and army life stories that were informative, moving, exhilarating, funny, frustrating and beautifully described.’

Amazon Five StarsCRACKING READ
‘A poignant and moving look at a slice of British military operations in Afghanistan from the perspective of a TA officer of advanced years. For any middle aged man who wonders what to do about his ‘crisis’ this is both a lesson in perhaps what not to do and a call to do something.

Crisply written from an intensely personal angle, it captures the horror of war, it’s arguable necessity and its repercussions. From the front line soldier under fire through the chain of command and on to the politicians who drive policy, all are deftly brought to life (and in some cases brutally criticized) by Chris Greens writing.’

‘This is an immensely enjoyable as well as provocative read. On one level,it’s is the story of what leads a middle aged man to give up on a comfy corporate lifestyle ,but as the narrative unfolds Chris’ story raises some serious questions about the ambitions and ultimate goals of our involvement in Afghanistan and the role of spin over substance ….and I thought the spin would characterise his advertising not his military experience.At the heart of the provocativeness is the question – Is it all worth it ?
The true substance and honour of soldiering shines through on every page and I was constantly struck by the strength and quality of character in the soldiers of all ranks that Chris comes into contact with.This brings clear focus and rationale for our admiration of the Armed Forces.
But above all this is a story of bravery – the bravery to leave a lifestyle that so many aspire to ,the bravery of real armed conflict (as he handles a life and death situation in an overgrown cornfield) and the bravery of standing up to events ,actions and policy decisions that are clearly flawed and just not right.
This is a book of the highest quality written by a man of the highest qualities and is well worth a read on the beach this summer.’

‘Green brings a unique perspective to the conflict in Afghanistan. Retired soldier-turned-businessman, missing the comradeship and facing a mid-life hiatus, returns to the Army and a combat tour with the Grenadier Guards. With different experiences from his fellow combatants, he is able to bring us close in to the battlefield and to feel the wide range of emotions of a soldier in war. He translates the cultural nuances and bizarre sense of humour of the British Army in a way that had me laughing out loud. He was also able to explain what drives people like him and his brothers-in-arms to put their lives at risk, the exhilaration they feel in a fire-fight and the urge to stay alive to be with their families back home. At the same time he was humble enough to admit to the sometimes paralyzing effects of fear both on himself and young guardsmen stepping outside the wire to go on patrol.I was left almost exhausted by the range of emotions as I followed Green and his fellow soldiers through the episodes of their tour of duty – and deeply saddened to hear the heartbreaking stories of those that did not make it back for the victory parades. I feel better for at least knowing their story, and getting a further understanding from Green’s insights into the complex cultural, economic and political situation that is Afghanistan. This is the best military book I have read.’

‘For once we have a book about the British efforts in Helmand that is neither vitriolic nor sycophantic. The day to day tactics employed in the campaign will be poured over for years to come, but the honest truth that shines through continuously in Spin Zhira is that the young (and not so young) men and women that deployed on Op HERRICK generally carried themselves with great dignity and showed incredible courage. The saddest truth is that the military did what they could and without a robust, well funded, clearly understood plan to help the civilians of Helmand attain a sustainable self determining state the entire campaign was doomed to failure from the start. The quote that still sticks with me after reading the book says all you really need to know about the British campaign ” The breathtaking hubris of DfID’s nation-building ambitions, combined with the superficial resources at their disposal and an absence of competence with which to execute the plan, were a recipe for disaster” ……. the other top tip is not to get separated from your patrol when you are in the green zone – not good at all.’

‘Irreverent, moving, funny and at times deeply depressing, Spin Zhira (old man in Helmand) is an intensely personal account of one man’s war in the heart of Helmand. Chris Green gives us a fresh and honest appraisal of the campaign on the ground; he brings a refreshingly honest account from the point of view of a reserve officer attached to the regular Army in Afghanistan. His book is not authorised by the ministry of Defence and make no mistake, he pulls no punches about the stupidity and dishonesty of some departments and agencies involved in the campaign. He is in awe of the courage and professionalism shown by the men and women on the ground both regular and reserves, but explains in detail how a lack of cultural understanding and an inability to tackle the corruption rife among Afghan officials has undermined their sacrifice. Green’s explanation of how the narcotics industry and corruption have proved impossible to tackle, rings true with anyone who has served in Afghanistan. The military culture of spinning failure into success and telling people what they want to hear in order to maintain morale and careers, comes through very strongly and I have no doubt that he has ruffled some senior feathers. His criticisms of the counterinsurgency campaign are interspersed with insightful observations of key characters and Green’s style is self-deprecating and at times very funny. I found myself drawn into the danger and frustration of Helmand and was at times deeply depressed at the counter productive manner in which the campaign was conducted over a decade or more. If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then Spin Zhira is a must read. His observations about the RAF are entirely accurate!’

Amazon Five StarsA SUPERB READ
‘This true story of a mid life crisis is a superb read. Chris had a life that many can recognise but his mid life crisis was unique! Rather than the fast car and dolly birds, he moved to a canal boat and joined up again to serve in Afghanistan.

His story is deeply moving and insightful and gives an honest impression of the lives of our young (and not so young) soldiers, dragged from home to fight a war. I loved the style of his writing and the juxtaposition of his life at war against his other passion on the ski slopes of Europe.

The journey Chris takes us on leads to tears and laughter but left me inspired. A hugely brave endeavour and a great read.’

‘I suppose the first thing I’d say about this book is it is absolutely not in the tradition of Bravo Two Zero-type muck ‘n’ bullets memoirs. That’s not to disrespect any of those books but just to say that: even if you wouldn’t normally go near a modern war memoir, you might still consider this. And if you have read a lot of those books, buy this and see how it compares and contrasts.
Chris’s life during the period he describes was a strange mixture indeed. A mix of probably common middle age experiences (most notably, the sort of divorce many of us go through but which is nonetheless fascinating in its awfulness) and the most bizarre, almost un-worldly transformation that occurs between a comfortable civilian life and a ‘reboot’ of military service.
His narrative moves around smoothly on a timeline covering ferocious UK training exercises, with squaddies half his age looking to him for instruction, the politics of Helmand province and the numerous criss crossing international agencies and Armed Forces he encounters, and some hair raising expeditions into the Heart of Darkness. All with the background of a very specific 40-something personal life which would probably be interesting even without the military adventures. (The ski story alone made my palms wet.)
As well as his own narrative, Chris manages to put us firmly in the shoes of some of his opponents, whose experiences he learned about through his day-to-day duties as a liaison officer. So you get a balanced picture of one of the most unbalanced situations I’ve ever read about, i.e. Afghanistan in the modern era.
What is especially interesting about this book is that it does not adopt any ideologue’s stance with regard either to Western intervention or the terrorist threat Chris and his comrades were attempting to snuff out. I would have thought a New Statesman and a Spectator reader, like, would empathise with different areas within the narrative. That’s very definitely a good thing as there is too much black and white around.’

‘The backdrop to this account of a reservist officer’s deployment to Afghan, is his own search for himself and the ensuing mid-life crisis. It is at once shocking, exciting, motivating and humbling.

The author articulately describes decisions, actions and impulses that reveal in sharp relief, great selfishness and huge selflessness. It is this contradiction which imbued in me, as the reader, great humility, recognising similar traits albeit not as extreme in myself. Ultimately what comes across is the realisation that in order for one’s life to have a meaningful impact on family, friends, colleagues and those of a lesser acquaintance, it should have a foundation of self-esteem. Without it, every interaction is hollow and fragile. Self-esteem allows the maintenance of perspective. At its simplest it enables the author to share the joy of shredding a virgin couloir with lads of a different generation with different values who come together only in the moment.

If this all sounds a little heavy and pretentious, it’s a reflection of the reviewer, not the author, whose well written prose made me laugh out loud numerous times.’

A true story. That’s what the cover states somewhat boldly. Reading through Chris’ account of both the prologue, the deployment and the aftermath I was left pondering about the subtitle. The riveting read took me through the various meanings of the word “true”.

According to Merriam Webster, some of the definitions are.
Loyal: The tale of personal loyalty within the British Army and the special brand of loyalty within any unit deployed in a hostile environment, is magnificently captured by Chris for example in the vetting process of being accepted with the Grenadiers and later in the different situations in Helmand, where only trust in your comrades will see you through. But most of all it comes across as a tale of a man, who faces the need to be true to himself and his legacy and sense of duty.

Just: The different angles displayed in both the flawed local governance and the allied inability to serve any kind of trustworthy justice and thus compelling argument to abandon the Talibs and join sides with the Government of Afghanistan, serve to give a perspective on the difficult nature of both counter-insurgency and nation-building, even if it is only in a small town in Helmand.

Truthful: “The first casualty when war comes, is truth” In line with this, several of the storylines take us through alternative versions of truth, from the F3T (you’ll see) to the domestic battlefront of marriage and civvie life. Chris comes through bluntly honest in his plot, but the subtext is apparent throughout the book.

Accurate: Is Chris’ account accurate? I’m sure it is by his perspective. But true also translates to narrow, and the story thrives on the accurate perspective laid out before the reader. Although Chris’ has corroborated most of the statements and tries to ensure the reliability, the strong point is the fact, that this is his story, his view and his true experience.

I’ll definitely recommend it to anyone interested in an alternative and personal perspective on Afghanistan, soldiering and the challenges of being good in a bad place.’

‘Chris Green has written a book based on his experience of Helmand in the summer of 2012.

During this period the British Army was in a state of flux, slowly drawing down their presence to leave the Afghan army to fight the Taliban.

Unlike other authors Green writes with a surprisingly candid humour about the tour and the actions of those involved. Other books either look at a strategic narrative of the deployments or try and write about the macho fighting but few actually bother to explain what it was like to be out there for such a long time.

His hilarious asides about the 20 somethings working in the HQ trying to keep sane, May to some look disrespectful, as at the same time soldiers deployed were fighting and suffering, but the reality was that a group of about 7 people had to plan and order hundreds to action in a very hostile environment and to keep sane they had to laughed, joke and in some cases draw penises on each other’s note books.

His description of those higher officers, on whom some significant pressure was applied, really brings home how much those behind the fighting had to take, not a physical threat, but the mental strain of deploying hundreds of soldiers into some difficult tactical situations and knowing that a single mistake in orders or one single slip up in the plan could see men die.

So in summary you should read this book if you want to know what the people fighting the war were really like, the author made some friends for life on this tour while secretly his home life was falling apart. The is no high level US strategic policy questioning, nor is there any hard hitting queen and country sentimentality. Instead what you get is a real insight into the lives of a group of people catapulted into a difficult situation who come out the other side sane(just about) but with a fascinating story to tell’

‘Revealing insight from a unique perspective about exactly what the UK forces were doing in Afghanistan. Chris Green details his journey from training in sleepy Norfolk to combat missions in Helmand. On the way he chronicles the startling disconnect between the the truth as circulated in government and distributed by the media, and the reality on the ground as observed by those tasked with implementing woefully misguided policy. Written with clarity and honesty, interspersed with dark humour, you won’t find anything else quite like this. A must read if you have any interest in the Afghan conflict.’

‘This true story of a mid life crisis is a superb read. Chris had a life that many can recognise but his mid life crisis was unique! Rather than the fast car and dolly birds, he moved to a canal boat and joined up again to serve in Afghanistan.

His story is deeply moving and insightful and gives an honest impression of the lives of our young (and not so young) soldiers, dragged from home to fight a war. I loved the style of his writing and the juxtaposition of his life at war against his other passion on the ski slopes of Europe.

The journey Chris takes us on leads to tears and laughter but left me inspired. A hugely brave endeavour and a great read.’

‘An ex army friend of mine recommend Chris’ book to me and to be honest, I found it enthralling. It made me laugh out loud, curse and cry in equal measure. I dropped a star as personally the timeline transitions at the start of they book threw me a bit, but it did not detract from the overall experience.
Well written and clearly a deeply personal undertaking. Excellent.’

‘Insightful is the word I use to describe this book. It gives the reader many unique insights about what it means to be a soldier and officer, not just in serving in Afghanistan but in the forces in general. The highs, lows, the good and the bad.

It balances informative insight with entertaining flow and narrative.

My perspective on our involvement in these conflicts is now much more informed and I will be applying a strong filter to all future media articles.

The book is not all about the forces though, as there is also a a great insight into what it means to reach a cross road in your life. What it takes to deal with the choices you’ve made and what needs to be done in order to lead the life you seek.

In short, I really enjoyed the book and have a huge amount of respect for the author and what he went through in order to change his approach to life.’

Amazon Five StarsRECOMMENDED
‘Let soldiers do what soldiers do, and they do it very, very well. Turn soldiers into nation-builders – and ask them to remake that nation in a foreign image – and they do what anyone else would do: they make stuff up.

Spin Zhira (an Afghan term for an old wise man) relates the author’s own experiences as an reservist in his 40s who volunteers for service in Helmand Province during the nastier phases of Britain’s most recent military involvement. While stationed in “Communications” (what civilian companies would call PR) his deployment isn’t from far behind the lines; he goes on patrol and, yes, he gets shot at.

Green doesn’t paint himself as a hero – in fact, his tone is self-deprecating and full of dark humour, more Spike Milligan than Andy McNab. Possibly the best tone to take when you’re many years older than the guys around you and the gaps in your own military skills are thrown into sharp relief. When talking about his colleagues, the Danes come off well, the Americans slightly less so, and special forces – with whom he has a few run-ins – surprisingly badly. While it’s never stated overtly, the overall take-out is clear: this war was one monumental mistake.

While each chapter is very different – the second half of the book, in particular, descends into a VERY dark tone as the author’s frustration with the engagement shares headspace with his personal problems back in the UK – there’s great consistency of theme: cheerful competency on the ground, contrasted by the utter impossibility of the job they’re told to do by their masters.

Again and again, the woeful state of Britain’s military preparedness comes across: engines kept together by string and skill, weapons falling somewhat short in the ammo department, clapped-out equipment impeding progress everywhere. And massive, appalling wastes of (British) taxpayer money on “initiatives” whose collective result is to line the pockets of tribal elders. Even worse is the classic groupthink of denial: everyone knows what they’re doing is wrong, everyone knows what should be done, but nobody does it, because nobody else is doing it.

Will you learn a lot about war? Perhaps: there’s a lot of on-the-ground detail and anecdote about what everyday soldiers actually do to remain sane and functional in a situation that’s completely screwed up. But in the end, this somewhat shocking book isn’t really about war. It’s about what happens when you send your soldiers off to war … and then tie them in too many knots to fight it. Recommended.’

Amazon Five StarsBUY IT
‘A fantastic true story from Helmand Province in Afghanistan, and about a man’s midlife crises which forced him to give up his civilian life and seek the fight in Afghanistan. The books gives you insight into the complexities of fighting an insurgency and winning a war against an idea – an ideology – a tradition of life, which truly is and will be troublesome. It also gives you an idea of how to overcome a divorce. It is a well written book as only a Brit could write. I really recommend the Old Man in Helmand. Buy it.’

‘Hi Chris,
We met recently at the “Just Add Water” event at the Seven Dials Club where you spoke about your book.
I’ve just finished reading it and had to write to tell you how moved I was by your story.  You said to me you hoped it would make me laugh as well as cry and it certainly did both, but also evoked lots of other emotions. The poignancy with which you write about your sons is particularly touching and I’m sure they’ll be very proud of their dad when they’re old enough to read and understand the book.  You also told me the writing process had been a cathartic experience, but I was struck by your bravery in being so honest about some very personal issues.  Without wanting to sound gushing, I have to say I was rather humbled by the whole story and I don’t think I’ll be alone in that.
I was also bewildered by the sheer ridiculousness of the bureaucracy you described – having worked, albeit some time ago, within the MoD I thought I had a good handle on this, but your story takes it to another level entirely.  There are points in the book where your frustration radiates off the page and I felt both enraged on your behalf and astounded at people’s capacity to bury their heads in the sand and be so unaware of what’s happening around them.  As I’m writing this it’s making me think about how many strands and layers there are within your story, so for this reader at least you’ve achieved the writer’s holy grail of provoking thoughts, questions and reflections that will continue long after the last page!
Your idea to weave the ski-ing passages into the story struck me as genius – wow!  I know I’ve said I don’t want to sound gushing, but I have to tell you Chris that I absolutely loved the book and will be reading it again and again.  I’m already badgering my friends to get copies, I just can’t recommend it highly enough.  I really hope your book receives the recognition it undoubtedly deserves and I’m looking forward to seeing your name at the top of the best-seller lists.  Many, many congratulations already and I wish you the very best of luck for the continued success of your fabulous book.’

‘I took up Entomology during my mid-life crisis,Chris deployed with the Grenadier Guards to the Gheresk Region of Helmand during a very testing tour. Chris was given the thankless job as Influence Officer dealing not only with Afghans but also our partner nations; the US and Denmark most notably. He had to be diplomatic throughout often holding his tongue for fear of insulting someone. Despite being a Reserve Officer attached to the Battalion he fitted in well and his sense of humour stood him well when dealing with fellow officers. This is no holds barred account of a busy tour which will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers because of the truthfulness of his account. It brings back ‘fond’ memories of the tour and is my first ever read where I know most people. Five stars (would be 10 if there were that many).’

‘Chris deployed with the Grenadier Guards to the Gheresk Region of Helmand Province in 2012 on what turned out to be a very testing tour. Chris was a Reserve Officer attached to the Battalion deploying on what was to be 9 months tour. This could have been a daunting prospect for many however with his sense of humour and approachable and charming nature he fitted in well with not only his fellow Officers but the NCOs and Guardsmen alike. Throughout the tour Chris was employed as the lead influence officer, a task that in itself required the qualities displayed by Chris as well as a whole lot of patience and tolerance !
This is no holds barred account of Chris’s tour, which is undoubtedly the best book I have read on the recent Afghanistan ‘era’ due to the candidness of his account.
For me this book brings back a mixture of emotions but also fond memories of the Grenadiers last tour of Afghanistan. However what it has done is produce a great read that I have found hard to put down. It’s an easy 5 out of 5 for me.’

Amazon Five Stars A GREAT READ
‘Before going on, I will say that this is the best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read. The only criticism I would have is that it is not hard enough on the institutional dishonesty of senior officers. It is all too easy to accept, because that is the way we are trained to think, that it is acceptable to be less than honest in order to get promotions; it is ‘understandable’. I disagree; it is not ‘understandable’ in the context either of preserving military discipline or as part of military culture that we place lipstick on a pig. This is done, as is clear from Spin Zhira, at the cost of people’s lives.

All that said, this was a great read. I was fascinated to compare my own experience as a reservist with his; I had no training or preparation for a fairly demanding tour of Iraq in a similar role; it is encouraging to see that this has emphatically changed. It is also very refreshing to get some criticism, and some detail, of the destructive arrogance of special forces, who were at least as clueless as the rest of the army.

We also get detail about his personal life, which gives depth to the rest of his account which is brutally honest, both about Chris’ supposed shortcomings and more pointedly, those of the mission itself. It would be difficult to come to any other conclusion that the Helmand campaign was misconceived, pointless and unwinnable. Chris is clear that the soldiers were, in the final analysis, fighting only for each other – but isn’t that always the case?.

He is rightly very critical of the civilian effort; by the same token I would like to have seen less praise for languid, inscrutable (and clearly very posh) senior officers who produce plans for hopeless operations. However, read the book yourself, because these are small points taken in context. I would close only with the comment that his disdain for the civilian effort is entirely well-founded. I would only add that he does not know the half of it!’

Old Man in Helmand

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