Saturday, 29 February 2020
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A million bullets James Fergusson Afghanistan Op Herrick

By Chris Newton, UK Defence Forum Research Associate

Operation 'Herrick IV' will be remembered as one of the most controversial operations the British Armed Forces have undertaken in recent history. Much has already been written about the mission. Most of the key players, including General Sir Richard Dannatt and Colonel Stuart Tootal, as well as other participants have written accounts of this mission. There have also been several journalistic accounts.

James Fergusson's book A Million Bullets is one such journalistic example. He has had extensive experience covering Afghanistan, and he does not fail in using his knowledge of Afghan culture in his analysis. The title refers to John Reid's unfortunate phrase at the start of the campaign that he would be perfectly happy if the British ended the mission not firing a single shot. Fergusson recognises that Reid's suffered unfair treatment by the media and that his quote was taken out of context. Nevertheless, the book shows how complacent the British political and military establishments were, and how the campaign turned out to be something very different to what was originally envisaged.

Originally published in 2008, with a paperback published in 2009, the book describes the Afghan conflict from Fergusson's perspective. It covers the places he visited and the interviews he conducted with politicians, generals, Afghans, soldiers and airmen, and with members of the Taliban at the end.

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