Chris Ryan, The One That Got Away Review

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Guest's review of Chris Ryan, The One That Got Away


“The One That Got Away is Chris Ryan's personal account...”

Written on: 01/08/2008

Good Points
Ryan is masterful at setting the scene. His blunt, matter-of-fact description of events creates a very real atmosphere. The long drawn out days spent in hiding are occasionally broken up by flashbacks of Ryan's life growing up, which he thematically manages to weave into his present situation. The suspense and fear is palpable and the few moments of 'action' are utterly compelling and frightening.

Bad Points
Found it occasionally clunky, Ryan's isn't the best writer in my view, and toward the end, the pacing starts to flag I think.

General Comments
The One That Got Away is Chris Ryan's personal account of his escape from Iraq to Syria after a botched SAS mission to locate SCUDs during the first Gulf War. Ryan's ordeal lasted ten days, he walked over two hundred miles and it remains the longest escape and evasion in SAS history.
I'm not particularly interested in military books, but Ryan manages to bring a very human element to the story that enables the reader to quickly imagine themselves in his position. It's mainly a story of survival in hostile territory, but Ryan also deals with his life growing up, the SAS selection process, relationships and the post traumatic stress that he suffered after the event.

The book reads like the most exciting film you've ever seen. It is not action-packed, but it's the absence of fighting and the tension that builds toward moments of conflict that make the action even more terrifying.

Similar in ways to 'Touching the Void', the real enemy for Ryan was the unusually cold weather he encountered, dehydration, starvation and fatigue. Vast portions of the day were spent hiding and Ryan nearly always moved at night.

One interesting aspect of the account was how Ryan was received by his colleagues after the event, particularly by Andy McNabb who's version of what happened to the rest of the Bravo Two Zero company is well known.

I recommend this book to anyone, not just military fans. It's a beautiful, emotional story of survival and human strength, and you will not be able to put it down until you have finished it.

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