Bravo Two Zero, Andy McNab

BravoBravo Two Zero isn’t a book I would have chosen to read. A work colleague told me that he never read books until he came across Andy McNab’s stories, and he lent me this autobiographical account of McNab’s involvement in the first gulf war.

The prominent thing I see in the book is how little life is valued in war and how men can be uncompromisingly brutal, committing unthinkable atrocities against “the enemy”.

Most of the book gives graphic detail of the obscene treatment of McNab by his Iraqi captors during his time as a prisoner of war. I had to wonder whether that kind of treatment of prisoners by their Iraqi captors was the norm and if so what does it reveal about their national character?
And then I recalled the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by their US captors a decade later during the second gulf war and I saw that the capability of inhumanity is within us all, ready to be exposed when faced with the “right” circumstances.

McNab’s experience also shows another side of human nature. After an extended period of brutal bashing, threats of death, being kept in the filthiest of conditions and being denied adequate food and water, McNab reveals:

“For fifteen minutes one night I found God…and I had a little discussion with him.
“’Come and help me now,’ I pleaded. ‘If you help me now, I’ll be your best mate forever. If you’re there, f***ing do something about this. We need your help now – all of us. If you’re there, do it, and I’ll be putting pennies in your pot every day.’

“I said as much of the Lord’s Prayer as I could remember from school, but nothing happened. God did not exist”

I think the above quote (sadly) reveals more about mankind than the obscene inhumanity demonstrated in the killing and torturing described throughout the rest of the book. In fact the sentiment revealed in that quote exposes why such inhumanity is possible. It is the literal belittling of God: reducing Him to a being required to jump to our service when we finally see fit to turn to Him.

Thinking that He can be won over by the promise of mateship, or the offer of daily “pennies”. Expecting Him to act the second we call out – despite having ignored and dismissed Him throughout the rest of our lives.

Looking at Him like a lamp-bound genie, whose existence is disproved when he doesn’t immediately appear at our command to grant our wishes

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6 Responses to Bravo Two Zero, Andy McNab

  1. Marleen says:

    Did the author get past that point of view at any time in this book?

    • Onesimus says:

      HI Marleen, it seems like his interest in God only lasted for that 15 minutes – which he clearly saw as enough time for God to prove His existence by jumping immediately to his aid on demand.

      • Marleen says:

        I wonder if it will ever change in the series. It’s a series, right? Clearly, people do what you’ve described. I appreciate this write up. There are people who may “give it” many years or their whole life but still maintain the same attitude of expecting to see what they want. There are even people who say they believe in God and/or Jesus (largely so other people will think they’re good people or so they can think of themselves as good people or so others will stop telling them they will go to hell for whatever that’s worth) but who continue to, mostly secretly, resent God and wonder if there is any point in the subject.

      • Onesimus says:

        I think the book was McNab’s first and it was autobiographical. I think he has at least one more book about his personal experiences and others that are written as fiction.

  2. Marleen says:

    Is the colleague an atheist?

    • Onesimus says:

      Probably an atheist by default rather than by conviction. A stance based on not wanting to think too much about things that are likley to challenge the easy going Aussie lifestyle.

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