Rogue Heroes

Rogue Heroes

The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of the War

eBook - 2016
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Britain's Special Air Service--or SAS--was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young, gadabout aristocrat with a remarkable strategic mind. Where his colleagues looked at a 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 Nazi lines and sabotage their airplanes and supplies. 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's remarkable exploits facing the Nazis in the 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.--Adapted from dust jacket and publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Crown, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101904176
1101904178
Branch Call Number: Overdrive eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xvi, 380 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates) : illustrations, maps

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SEBoiko
Jan 09, 2017

But then courage, like death, seldom appears where it is expected.

s
SEBoiko
Jan 09, 2017

To overcome frailty is one definition of courage: to acknowledge it with honesty is another.

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SEBoiko
Jan 09, 2017

Comedy and Tragedy are brothers.

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SEBoiko
Jan 09, 2017

The confident man will win,...

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SEBoiko
Jan 09, 2017

Bravery sometimes comes in unexpected forms, and in places far from the battlefield.

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IndyPL_SteveB Jan 07, 2019

War is Hell. But at the beginning of World War Two, it was still considered polite Hell. Even with the memories of the trenches from World War One, much of the early Second World War was fought not too much differently from the ways of war two hundred years earlier. Inserting “small groups of highly trained men behind enemy lines, to carry out special operations against high-value targets” was considered not quite “sporting.” However, as it became clear that the German Army was not going to play the “not quite sporting” game, it became apparent that something new was called for -- a new strategy with a new kind of soldier.

The history of the Special Air Service (SAS) is fascinating and fully documented by the author, who was given complete access to the records of the SAS in the war, as well as the ability to interview the modern survivors. But I caution you that it is bloody and violent indeed. This is not a World War Two comedy. The Nazi SS troops took few prisoners and were well known to destroy entire villages, killing everyone, to make their points. Late in the war, the SAS began using similar tactics with the SS troops they would capture or defeat.

If you are interested in military strategy and the psychology of the kind of men who would find it an entertaining challenge to risk their lives in the most dangerous possible situations, this would be a fine book.

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SciFiFan1
May 01, 2018

An excellent read and an even better listen. The audiobook version also available through the library and read by the author himself is as engaging as the book.

It takes a practiced hand to turn a string of historical events into a narrative. It takes a gifted historian and writer to turn that narrative into a gripping story in such a way that the place names and dates melt into the background allowing the characters themselves to take center stage.

Warts and all, this story of the LRDG and SAS gives a balanced and nuanced account of the many triumphs and failures that created legends out of misfits. Also, the desert is more than a setting here. It is given a full role in this story, both an antagonist and protagonist to the desert soldiers who turned one of the harshest environments on earth to their advantage although any small misstep was punished harshly.

If I have any complaint it's that the Germans and Italians are not better explained. Repeated raids on important airfield and supply assets do get a response from the Axis powers but there is not enough of an account, for example, of how airfield defences were buttressed in response to the SAS raids. A small quibble with a truly excellent work.

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Steve11
Oct 14, 2017

I loved this book. The creation and deployment of the Special Air Service is a wonderful story.

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exie3
Nov 16, 2016

Excellent documentary of SAS creation

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