A book review: Salesman with an AK47: a rollercoaster ride of a life lived on the edge – by Alan Barry
This book is not a travel blog about Uganda – but is written by author Alan Barry, a friend I met in Uganda, and boy has he travelled! His ‘adventures’ make mine look very mundane by comparison! You think some of Kampala’s neighbourhoods are rough? How about Northern Ireland during The Troubles? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq?
What I find interesting about Alan’s story is that he doesn’t run away from life. Peel away the layers of anyone’s life, and there’s always more than meets the eye. Assumptions are just that.
“Salesman with an AK-47” details the life of a young Irish immigrant who grew up in the UK in the 1970s, during the height of the IRA (Irish Republican Army)’s campaigns in mainland Britain. The book recounts Alan’s training as a Grenadier Guard, one of the British Army’s most elite regiments. Alan was a Catholic Irish soldier who served in Northern Ireland in the midst of ‘The Troubles’, the violence of the mid-1980s. Here Alan witnessed the death of friends and was confronted with sectarianism, bigotry and hatred.
‘I was an Irish-born soldier in the British Army during the Troubles. People just couldn’t understand it.’ Click to read an interview in The Journal.
“In the early parts of the book I talk about how I grappled with my own national identity, and I hope that the majority of Irish people can understand why I joined the British army. I also hope and believe that the majority of my countrymen and women can relate to my experiences in Northern Ireland.”
Alan later guarded the Queen of England, Elizabeth II. Here he is pictured at one of the Queen’s palaces, Windsor Castle.
Click on the graphic below to listen to The Right Hook interview with Alan Barry, author of “Salesman with an AK47” on Newstalk, Dublin.
Back on ‘civvy street’ [civilian life] after five years of military service, Alan describes his life as a highly successful executive during “the rollercoaster of the 1990s, the Filofax era of yuppies.” Business failure later leads to desperation and a marriage breakup.
Salvation appears in an unlikely place: Afghanistan! In his book, Alan tells of his love and respect for this misrepresented country and its people.
While in Afghanistan, unexpectedly, an incident in Alan’s military past unravels him. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder leads him to “the darkest hole I’ve ever been in in my life.”
In Papua New Guinea, Alan talks about the country’s culture and her people “as I worked my way back from the abyss, surrounded by cannibals, army mutinies and political unrest.”
A reviewer on Amazon writes: “A thrilling end to end action read, but also some very touching stories with a really human aspect to them . The army chapters and service in Northern Ireland seem to have been of real interest to the media with lots of attention to the fact the Author is Irish yet served with the British Army during the conflict in the mid 1980s.”
Alan’s life story continues with senior level postings with telecommunications companies in Papua New Guinea, Iraq and Uganda.
“Salesman with an AK-47” has received overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon. Alan says “If I have one wish, it would be that my book will help others to come to grips with their own demons, and bring closure to events that maybe need addressing in their own lives.”
Visit Alan Barry’s website (created by yours truly) to see more photos and read about other outlets for buying the book or click here to order a copy of ‘Salesman with an AK-47’ on Amazon. Alan Barry is now a public speaker and has started writing his second book.