If you want to know something about the idiocy and hilarity of war, when to stage a Guards regimental photograph in the bandit country of South Armagh (5.30 in the morning), why the Americans are losing their classically asymmetrical war in Iraq, how John Simpson ‘liberated’ Kabul and why the stiff upper lip may be making a comeback, David Loyn’s hugely entertaining book is the one for you. In the twenty-first century, it’s the nearest thing to a Victorian adventure romp of empire, reeking of Henry Newbolt’s ‘play up! and play the game’ acted out against a backdrop of fine marijuana, ‘Hotel California’, and the wheep and chirrup of satellite technology.
It’s the story of a gang of ne’er-do-wells who had some brushes with the British Army before going to war in Afghanistan, kitted out not with guns but with video cameras. The narrative coalesces around three certifiable fruitcakes (er, upstanding freelance cameramen) who formed the core of the Frontline News