I’ve been doing a fair bit of trash reading, particularly books about and by various special forces operatives and operations. Leaving out obvious ones like No Easy Day and American Sniper, here’s a short list with some half-hearted reviews thrown in.
Zero footprint by Simon Chase
This is a decent read and my favorite among the lot. Cleanly written with minimal unnecessary drama while describing key operations with a high level of detail.
Thankfully, the author always sticks to the relevant subject and avoids boring readers with my-life-story and how-I-grew-up nonsense.
Highlight: a vividly described HVT hunt near Jalalabad which goes horribly wrong when the author’s team is ambushed by a bunch of Taliban fighters.
Born Fearless by Phil Campion
Definitely an entertaining read, but (as the title probably suggests) not without a lot of drama.
The overall style seems to reflect the author’s personality quite accurately: loud and garish, and on the bright side, possibly quite honest.
Highlight: a bonechilling drive in a crippled G-Wagon from Sarobi to Kabul through ‘the valley of death’ as the author puts it.
Equally entertaining are the author’s experiences in Gaza.
Delta Force: A memoir, by Charlie Beckwith
Straight from the horse’s mouth, a detailed account of the history behind the genesis of Delta Force, including it’s troubled birth and the disastrous operation Eagle Claw.
The author is quite honest about his admiration of the British Special Air Service and how Delta Force was inspired by, and designed based on, the SAS. More than anything, the book reveals one man’s determined and single minded pursuit of the fulfillment of a critical requirement and how often (and how effectively) political interests can come in the way. In terms of specifics, the way I remember it, the formation of JSOC (post Eagle Claw) left him high and dry without a valid-enough role which subsequently led to his retirement.
Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney
Mr Haney’s self-assigned role of ‘founding member’ is rather misleading, but it takes nothing away from the book’s quality overall.
Inside Seal Team Six
While not a bad read, the author comes across (at times) as someone who is a bit too much in love with oneself. It’s been a while since I read this, and what sticks to my mind still is the author’s interest in extreme endurance activities like hard runs, triathlons,and so on.
Seal Team Six by Howard Wasdin
This seems to be a fairly popular book, mainly due to the author’s involvment in the 1993 Mogadishu raid.
The highlight of the book (obviously) is the events in Mogadishu 1993 when Delta and Rangers attempt to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
Sadly, and this is subjective, post-mogadishu the book quickly descends into the author’s subsequent emotional and personal turmoils.
Hunting the Jackal by Billy Waugh
Billy Waugh is a well known and highly respected veteran who has been here, there, and everywhere over the course of some 50 years.
The author is indeed a character and it shows throughout the book.
The highlight of the book is clearly indicated in the book’s title.
First Into Action by Duncan Falconer
This is an interesting book, not least because it offers a good deep glimpse into the world of the British Special Boat Service – sister regiment to the more well known SAS.
Apart from details of various gruelling selection/training routines, the author throws light on the British commitment to build expertise on various unique areas such as offshore rig protection.
There’s always a certain sense of humour throughout the book which adds to the overall experience.
Immediate Action by Andy McNab
Surprisingly, Andy McNab seems to to be the more popular/successful author of the lot; ‘surprisingly’ because I really didn’t enjoy the book much and barely made it through the first 100 pages.
Perhaps it’s just me – who knows.
Eye Of The Storm by Peter Ratcliffe
While not a bad book, part of the author’s motivation seems to be on ‘clearing the air’ in terms of several accusations made towards his person by his (former) subordinates, including Andy McNab.
This is a recurring theme in this book and does take away a bit from the overall experience.
Still, overall a good ‘SAS counterpart’ of the Duncan Falconer SBS book mentioned earlier.
The author is brutally honest and ends up breaking a few stereotypes.