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Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS,…

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit… (2016)

by Ben Macintyre

Other authors: John Slim (Foreword)

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2118955,323 (4.13)45
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    The Phantom Major: The Story of David Stirling and the SAS Regiment by Virginia Cowles (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Written just 15 years after the events based on extensive first-person interviews.
  2. 00
    Inside the Green Berets by Charles M. Simpson III (Omnigeek)
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    Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab (Omnigeek)

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Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reads like a fiction thriller rather than a WW2 unit history.Odd ball soldiers fighting in a very unconventional manner. The SAS was fighting asymetrically before that definition was applied to soldierly thinking. Lots of personal insights and individual combats are described which make it an interesting story. ( )
  jamespurcell | Mar 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An excellent, gripping history of the origins of the SAS. The author draws you in with accounts from members, and shows a deep knowledge of the history and geography involved. ( )
  markknapp | Mar 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an engaging and well-written book with the right amount of wry humor when needed (because absurd things happen when human beings are involved). Macintyre writes about the creation of the Special Air Services, including its disastrous beginnings all the way to its end at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and the temporary disbanding of the SAS. Macintyre uses newly declassified materials to create this entertaining and often disturbing or sad narrative. His work makes me want to continue to learn more about these men and read the first hand accounts that several of them have written. ( )
1 vote librariabillie | Mar 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rogue Heroes is the story of the founding of the British SAS, the Special Air Service.

Being raised by a military historian, I was familiar with the SAS from a young age. For reasons I can't fully explain, I always admired the SAS fighting knife (also called a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife) as it seemed to typify the silent commando carrying out daring infiltrations behind enemy lines. The SAS were just these sort of commandos.

Rogue Heroes certainly offers plenty of secret missions and daring attacks. It also details the reality of such exploits, that there are lots of times that the good guys don't come home.

Rogue Heroes makes it clear that much of the SAS sprang from the ambition and determination of its first commander, David Stirling. Frustrated by out of date tactics and driven by a belief that hit and run tactics and operations focused on spreading chaos could result in a few, well trained soldiers having far more impact than their numbers, Stirling persuaded the British Army to create his own force. He did so my recruiting an odd collection of soldiers, many of whom struggled, like Stirling, with the obligation of being an ordinary soldier following orders.

What I did not appreciate until reading this book was how much of the early days of the SAS was defined by desert warfare in North Africa. While the SAS did do some parachuting (hence the Air in the title) much of its early techniques were honed in attempting to thwart Rommel's conquest of North Africa.

Stirling succeeded beyond expectations. That success, combined with the canny use of Winston Churchill's son to spread the story of the success, resulted in a rapid expansion of the SAS. By war's end, the SAS had established itself as an elite special forces group that would continue to serve the British army after WWII.

Rogue Heroes is well written and engaging. It does a good job of fleshing out the character of the individuals who first joined the unit. The loss of some of them in action and by accident feels like a real loss to the reader. Recommended for any WWII enthusiast.
1 vote Oberon | Mar 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is utterly fascinating. In 1942, in the deserts of Northern Africa, a brutal war was being waged. The victor of this front would gain a great advantage in the overall scheme of World War II.

Enter a rather peculiar soldier. David Stirling was an aristocratic Scot with many Scarlet Pimpernel-esque traits. He hated discipline, could often be found enjoying the local alcohol or women, and was generally regarded as something of a dandy. But Stirling envisioned an entirely new way to wage war. Rather than the more conventional warfare practiced in WWI, where two large armies threw themselves at one another until a victor emerged, Stirling wanted to create a small, highly trained unit which could operate secretly behind enemy lines and cause maximum disruption to the Axis war machine. Old-school higher-ups viewed this as a unsporting, but with a combination of charm and family connections, Stirling was able to put together his very own squadron of rogues and misfits. Thus the SAS was born.

Macintyre used the war diary of the SAS, a compilation of primary documents about the unit from its founding in 1942 through 1946, for his source material for this book. This recently unclassified document has provided Macintyre with a rich canvas to write this history of the SAS, which he does with wry humor and masterful storytelling. The story of the origins of the SAS rightly belongs in the realm of legend, and Macintyre does their story justice. The primary players in forming the unit are realized as actual people, and vividly brought into focus by the author.

While this is a history book, the fast pacing and accessible narrative makes this a good choice even for those who normally don’t read the genre. Any one with an interest in military or WWII history will find this book fascinating.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Rogue Heroes is currently available for purchase. ( )
  irregularreader | Feb 17, 2017 |
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Slim, JohnForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 110190416X, Hardcover)

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 material. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 17 Jun 2016 22:15:01 -0400)

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