Killing Zone by Harry McCallion follows the author as he goes from a broken home and getting in trouble to a qualified barrister. He passes through the Parachute Regiment, the South African Recce’s, the SAS and the RUC.
I would normally write a bit more of a detailed review and include some quotes (like with Sniper One that I enjoyed) from the book. But this was a book that I came across on my kindle app for my phone.
A real book is better I think, a real book that I can fold pages in and make notes on so that I can then refer back to it. I know you can highlight bits in kindle books but I don’t really faff about with the app. I have a book on there usually just to read when I’m in a queue or having a poo. You get me?
The Book Then….
So Killing Zone, by Harry McCallion. Quick summary? I enjoyed it. There were bits where I wanted to skip and got me a bit bored I suppose you could say, but I thoroughly enjoyed it really.
He has a rough background with a not so great family life let’s say. He joins the Paras at a young age, 17 I think? And then goes on to have a long military career with plenty of different environments involved.
The more interesting bits of the book are the parts with less action. The training bits I enjoy. The SAS training has been written about many times but I enjoyed reading about the mindset of the author when it was getting tough, when others quit.
He kept going and the mental strength of special forces is something that has always fascinated me. I think I’m very mentally strong myself but the physical game is another matter. I’ve completed the Long Drag distance in a little but under the time limit. But I wasn’t carrying any weight and was on an ultra marathon.
To think that they done a similar distance in the same mountains in the same time but carrying the weight they carry just made me realise how fit they are.
So anyway, this isn’t my life story, this is about the book. After the Para’s McCallion went to South Africa and joined the Recce’s there. These have some similar training, in tough conditions but it was the war stories that were interesting here.
Fighting in Different Environments
We read so much about tier one special forces. But not how they do it in other countries, when they’re not tier one. Attached to the Rhodesian SAS and fighting in Angola, his time involved lots small attacks. Lots of firefights don’t get me wrong, but things like mine laying were very important in these battles.
He then came back to the UK and joined the SAS. I enjoyed the training parts on the Brecon Beacons. Missing out on some decent action in the Falklands pissed him off. It would anybody who was so close to it but didn’t get what they wanted.
A bulk of Killing Zone is about battling the IRA. Both with the SAS and with the RUC who he joined afterwards. Some bits here were a bit repetitive. The men were out on patrol and saw some IRA soldiers, they had a battle and some got hit/they didn’t get hit.
I will have to say I am not 100% clued up with the religions and different factions in Ireland as it was before my time. Some of what I was reading was going in and becoming a bit of blur. Who was against and who when someone was killed who would be pissed off by this.
Remember I am only reading this in little five-minute spurts so forgive the pretty non detailed recalling.
Basically if you like reading about lots of firefights, deaths, SF training and battles then get the book. It’s free on kindle for fucks sake, just read it. If you’re looking for a detailed memoir about feelings, techniques etc then this probably isn’t the book for you. As other reviews have said it’s quite “matter of fact” what he goes through and you might feel a bit distant from him.
Me though, I was happy to just read about some firefights when I had a few minutes. I didn’t have to buy it so I would say crack on a give it a go, get Killing Zone here.