Life events

Under A Feathered Sky – two years on…

When I started out on the journey of writing about my experiences in Kosovo over the Winter of 2008 and 2009, I really had little comprehension about the effect it would have on me.

That was 2015 and now, 7 years later, I am about to celebrate the second anniversary of the publication of Under A Feathered Sky. In this blog I want to step back and consider what I have achieved, and what has changed since then.

In those early days I would receive photographs of my book in the hands of friends or acquaintances, from the north of Scotland, to Washington DC, across in Germany and of course from Kosovo. In one case it was carefully placed on a table with a glass of whisky accompanying it, ready to be read. The relevance of the whisky will not be lost to anyone who served in Kosovo.

It was both humbling and exciting in equal measure. It took a while to get my head around the fact that someone a) had spent money on the book and b) was writing to give me positive feedback about it. And as I watched sales rise, the reality began to sink in. I was a published author.

The book was launched in a live webinar in late 2020 in association with Kings College, London, who also went on to interview me for their War Studies podcast series. I also appeared in a podcast with an Albania-based British journalist.

Even now I get unexpected messages via LinkedIn from people who have come across the book, bought it and are driven to contact me with their comments. I am touched every time it happens.

One contact in particular told me that, after reading the book and having completed a tour in Pristina with KFOR, she would be recommending it as essential British Army pre-deployment reading for officers and soldiers heading out on operational tours of duty to Kosovo. The book is also stocked by the UK Defence Academy Library.

High praise indeed.

The journey – such a cliché in itself – of writing a book is an intensely personal one. I am often asked about how it all began, and why I started making detailed contemporaneous notes from early on in my tour. These fundamental questions cannot be justified in a short blog post here. Suffice to say the motivations were complex, linked to my sense of duty, but also as a way of closing off a profoundly difficult tour of duty. In one of my reviews on Amazon, someone commented on how cathartic writing the book must have been for me. They were right.

I have other reasons to be celebrating the second anniversary of the book’s publication. I have sold copies every month since July 2020. I am proud that people are still buying it. The steady sales demonstrate that people’s interest in the UK and NATO’s role in Kosovo is enduring.

Kosovo is the most pro Euro-Atlantic alliance country in the Western Balkans, despite the malign and destabilising activities of its near neighbour, Serbia. People want to know the context.

Back in 2020, before publication, I sent the manuscript to the former Head of the UK’s Armed Forces, for whom I had worked a number of years earlier. He replied with typical brevity:

“This fascinating and highly readable book unpacks the reality of post conflict dynamics like no other I have encountered.” – General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO

In case you want to know what the book is all about, here’s the lift pitch:

This revealing first-hand account offers an honest and fascinating insight into the dramatic events of 2008/09 when Lieutenant Colonel Clewlow was deployed to Kosovo to be NATO’s eyes and ears inside the Kosovo Protection Corps (the KPC) – Kosovo’s revered civil emergency organisation.

Immersed in Kosovo’s rich culture, and operating in an unpredictable security environment, this deeply personal and candid memoir shows the lines he had to cross, and the risks he felt compelled to take, that ultimately led to the heart of the country’s political elite.

Caught in the middle of an intense battle of wills between the KFOR commanders and the Kosovan Generals leading the KPC, Clewlow had a stark choice; follow his orders from his KFOR command team, or discreetly side with the Kosovan leadership in order to shape events for the benefit of the KPC, putting his career and his reputation at risk in the process.

This book paints a vivid picture of what it is like to work for NATO in a highly politicised environment, amongst a divided international community exposing a clash of cultures, and with local politicians pursuing their own agendas. Under A Feathered Sky offers a unique insight into NATO’s role in newly independent Kosovo, a country nestled in Europe’s most unstable and politically fragile region.

If you are interested in buying Under A Feathered Sky, you can paste this link into your browser and it should deliver you the right page on Amazon:

It is also available to purchase via the UK’s largest book wholesalers, such as Gardners and Blackwells, so it can be ordered by mainstream book shops and independents alike.

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