The incredible untold story of WWII's greatest secret fighting force, as told by our great modern master of wartime intrigue.
Britain's Special Air Service - or SAS - was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young, gadabout aristocrat whose aimlessness in early life belied a remarkable strategic mind. Where most of his colleagues looked at a battlefield map of World War II's African theater and saw a protracted struggle with Rommel's desert forces, Stirling saw an opportunity: Given a small number of elite, well-trained men, he could parachute behind enemy lines and sabotage their airplanes and war matériel.
Paired with his constitutional opposite, the disciplined martinet Jock Lewes, Stirling assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend not just the balance of the war but the nature of combat itself. He faced no little resistance from those who found his tactics ungentlemanly or beyond the pale, but in the SAS' remarkable exploits facing the Nazis in Africa and then on the continent can be found the seeds of nearly all special forces units that would follow.
Bringing his keen eye for psychological detail to a riveting wartime narrative, Ben Macintyre uses his unprecedented access to SAS archives to shine a light inside a legendary unit long shrouded in secrecy. The result is not just a tremendous war story but a fascinating group portrait of men of whom history and country asked the most.
©2016 Ben Macintyre (P)2016 Random House Audio
Descriptions of the hit and run attacks.
The primogenitor of the organization. What gumption.
Interesting inflection, pleasant rhythm, accent perfect for the material. Volume could be louder.
The grace with with which captured SAS members accepted their executions.
Excellent companion to Ungentlemanly Warriors, which is excellent, better than this very good one.
General – I loved this book! So much so that I started writing this review with just over one hour left to go. I was hooked on this title halfway through the audio sample, but the rest of the book blew me away. That should be enough said, but there remain no other reviews on Audible so I'm the first and I’ll touch on the high points to assist in your decision; just in case you’re not hooked by the sample.
Content - You will not be disappointed by this book if you want to learn a lot about the SAS or even if you already know a lot about the SAS. This is essentially a collection of stories or actions, but they are put together seamlessly and told so well that the book reads like a good suspense novel. Very edge of the seat stuff. I learned a tremendous amount about the history of this elite unit and the writing is so good that I focused on nearly every word finishing it two days after adding it to my library. This is one of those books that you simply don’t want to stop listening to. Each story is interesting on its own merits and each supported the book as a whole. The book evoked several emotions and I dare say that if you’re a loyal Brit you’ll probably shed a tear of sorrow and of pride at some of the events told. These are stories of very brave men doing very dangerous things with full knowledge that they would be ‘left behind’ if seriously wounded and tortured and executed if captured. Yet, they did it anyway. I especially liked how the author managed to inject a good bit of humor throughout the telling. Just enough to lighten the mood, but without being garish or diminishing the seriousness of the subject matter.
Length – I think the length was just right. The author was able to tell the stories that needed to be told with no filler or useless rhetoric. All of the histories within the history lent something useful to the book overall.
Narration – Ben Macintyre did a great job on the narration of his book. Although I’ve not read the hardcopy I believe his narration made the book better. However, he is very ‘British’ so pronunciation of certain words may seem a bit odd to some American ears. Macintyre had a wonderful cadence, graceful style and just the right amount of inflection at just the right time. This is what should happen when the author narrates. As a result, I believe no other narrator could have done a better job. Ben Macintyre could easily stand alone as a narrator.
Summation – If you're a history buff or a connoisseur of all things WW II, or if you enjoy real life stories that read like novels (short stories in this case) then this book is a must have in your library. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to this year and I will listen to it again!
If this had been a novel or screenplay, I wouldn't have found it very believable. The characters are fascinating and the events are incredible. The novel is written for laypeople, but would probably be a good starting place for military history nerds who are interested in special forces.
Rough and always ready personalities of the SAS. Great read, well researched, and engrossing. Adventures, doubts, escapes, deaths brave and inadvertent.
The Author tells his story in a bit of a drone but WHAT a Story! Be warned, He covers the exploits of the SAS brilliantly but also includes the human cost of them and spares no details on a mostly hidden chapter of WWII.
I enjoy Ben Macintyre books because they are historical and because of his writing and, as in this case, his narration. Though others have written on this subject he's very specific regarding what he covers historically so you know at the outset what to expect. It's hard to imagine what these men went through and it's also impressive to learn how these rogue heroes spawned special service units in many other countries after the war.
Report Inappropriate Content