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It takes a tough mindset to be a successful sniper, to be able to dig in for days on your own as you wait for your target, to stay calm on a battlefield when you yourself have become the target the enemy most want to take out. Craig Harrison has what it takes and in November 2009 in Afghanistan, under intense pressure, he saved the lives of his comrades with the longest confirmed sniper kill – 2,475 metres, the length of 25 football pitches. In The Longest Kill, his unflinching autobiography, Craig catapults us into the heat of the action as he describes his active service in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, and gives heart-stopping accounts of his sniper ops as he fought for his life on the rooftops of Basra and the barren hills of Helmand province. Craig was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan and left battling severe PTSD. After his identity was revealed in the press he also had to cope with Al Qaeda threats against him and his family. For Craig, the price of heroism has been devastatingly high.
Snipers at War is a detailed history and analysis of the equipment, tactics and personalities of the ‘sniping world’, from the pursuit of accuracy to the latest electronic aids to observation and ranging. Technology and marksmanship from the Crimean War to the present day is examined in detail. The role of the sniper was largely ignored until the Winter War of 1939-40 between Finland and the USSR showed what could be achieved by specialist marksmen: Finn Simo Häyhä amassed 505 kills in less than a hundred days, a lesson learned by the Red Army to its cost. By the Germans invasion of 1941 the Russians were prepared: when the war ended, in addition to men such as Vasiliy Zaytsev, a Stalingrad hero with 242 accredited kills, the USSR had trained more than 2000 women as snipers. After 1945, the sniper’s reputation declined again. However, the Vietnam War, seemingly unending Middle Eastern conflict, internal strife in Sri Lanka, and ever-present urban threats have given new impetus not only to sniping but also to the development of new and more effective weaponry.
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