The author is a former British Infantry officer who subsequently became a private security contractor and worked in Iraq for eighteen months from the end of 2003 to the beginning of 2005. It was co-written with a professional author.


An insider’s account of life as a private security contractor in Iraq. In September 2003 the author arrived in Iraq at the start of an 18-month journey into chaos. In “Making a Killing”, Ashcroft provides a first-hand view of the world of private security where ex-soldiers employed to protect US and British interests can make up to $1000 a day. But he also reveals a new kind of warfare where the rules are still being written. Although hostilities are officially over, the fighting goes on. Scores of US soldiers are dying every day,¬†Coalition Forces are struggling to defend their own bases, let alone bring order and every insurgent killed only recruits a dozen more to fight Western forces.

From the Back Cover

The Lure: $1,000 a day as a hired gun in Iraq

The Reality: For every insurgent killed, a dozen more rise up

In September 2003, James ‘Ash’ Ashcroft, a former British Infantry Captain, arrived in Iraq as a ‘gun for hire’. It was the beginning of an 18-month journey into blood and chaos.

In this action-packed page-turner, Ashcroft reveals the dangers of his adrenalin-fuelled life as a security contractor in Baghdad, where private soldiers outnumber non-US Coalition forces in a war that is slowly being privatised. From blow-by-blow accounts of days under mortar bombardment to revelations about life operating deep within the Iraqi community, Ashcroft shares the real, unsanitised story of the war in Iraq – and its aftermath – direct from the front line.

James Ashcroft is a former British Infantry Captain who served in West Belfast and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. He served as a private security contractor in Iraq from September 2003 until spring 2005.


For me quite close as the author was on the commissioning course I would have been on had I pursued joining the Army and some of the
others I know from the UOTC would have been at Sandhurst with him. Makes it more thought provoking when you know it is a career path that chance turned you away from.

Overall I found it a very readable but there were a few points where I wondered if it was an accurate reflection of what actually happened or the temptation of the publishers to sex up the story to get more sales (as was done with Bravo Two Zero, amongst others). Certainly it isn’t a wholesale celebration of war or of the situation in Iraq, and there has certainly been some thought put into why we were there by the author.

It certainly came across as being written by someone who had been there and who had taken the opportunity to understand what was going on and why it was going on, that in itself is enough to make it worth reading for all those that wonder what is going on. The news doesn’t even come close to giving you the side of the story shown here, and it isn’t entirely positive for those prosecuting the war or attempting to rebuild Iraq or maintaining the peace.

The section towards the end of the book (around pg. 210) where he asks a load of US officers why they are fighting the war is priceless, and
possibly the best discussion of the reasons behind the war and the management of its aftermath. Better to spend time reading this book
than watching the news.

ISBN 0753512343