I bought this book when it first came out, and I loved it. I read "The One That Got Away" by Chris Ryan, who escaped this mission, and then "Storm Command" by Sir Peter de la Billiere, who commanded the UK forces in Desert Storm and who formerly commanded the SAS.
At the time, "Bravo Two Zero" seemed to confirm my view of the SAS as the world's premier elite unit, up there with the US's Delta Force and Israel's Sayeret Matkal. The tale that Andy McNab tells shows how training, guts and determination could overcome botches like being dropped too close to a hive of Iraqi soldiers with faulty intelligence and poor radio gear. The story of how the unit adapted to adversity was inspirational.
There's only one problem. Much of it is not true and I feel kicked in the teeth by the betrayal. Pick up a copy of "The Real Bravo Two Zero" by Michael Asher, published by Cassell & Co, ISBN 0-304-36436-3 in May 2002. The author is a former SAS trooper who has spent many years travelling in Arab lands. He read Bravo Two Zero and The One That Got Away and felt there was something wrong with them, apart from the fact that they flatly contradicted each other in many places. So he went into Iraq with a film crew and did some detective work.
Amazingly he found the original drop zone and all of the other significant sites in the book. He met the Iraqis who were on the other side and finds artifacts of the mission. The Iraqis (who were ordinary farmers and who, as we see, have no reason to lie) confirm the basic details of what the book says, but they (together with Asher's GPS) show up that many of the really heroic parts were exaggerated or plain made up by McNab!
For example, McNab exaggerated the distances they covered (journeys he says were 70km were actually 2km) and made up whole incidents (most of the combat scenes, the brutality of the Iraqis apart from the interrogators). Far from causing hundreds of Iraqi casualties, the whole patrol appear to have caused none. And, most importantly, Asher clears the soldier who McNab and Ryan blame for much of what went wrong.
Ryan's book, Asher concludes, was much more accurate except for three incidents: what Ryan said the wrongly-blamed soldier did; and the two combat incidents he lists. Ryan's story was epic and amazing, and it is a shame he had to make up some parts unnecessarily to make himself seem more glorious and brave than he was. His treatment of the poor soldier seems to be ex post facto justification of Ryan's own failure. McNab's story, too, would have been great if he kept to the real details, but he appears to have embellished it to sell copies of his book, sure in the knowledge that no-one could ever show him up. Well, Asher has.