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Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War (2016)

por Ben Macintyre

Outros autores: John Slim (Prefácio)

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85011225,701 (4.07)77
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.… (mais)
  1. 10
    The Phantom Major: The Story of David Stirling and the SAS Regiment por Virginia Cowles (Utilizador anónimo)
    Utilizador anónimo: Written just 15 years after the events based on extensive first-person interviews.
  2. 00
    Bravo Two Zero por Andy McNab (Omnigeek)
  3. 00
    Inside the Green Berets por Charles Simpson (Omnigeek)
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This is a very unlikely book for me to have read at all, much less liked. I don't read about military battles, and I stay away from violence. I only read it because it was written by Ben Macintyre and so far, everything I've read by him I've liked. Surprisingly, I liked this one best of all. I laughed, I cried, I grew to love these violent, brutal, intelligent and very brave men. As always, Macintyre's histories are factual and read like novels -- well written novels. ( )
  dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
I learned alot form this book as my knowledge of the war is not as good/complete as it could be. The education and experiences that these men went thru are almost not to be believed except it is. I would recommend highly that anyone interested in the war take a strong look at this book.
  aumbre | Mar 15, 2023 |
Ben Macintyre is a great story-teller. But to see him at his best, he needs a great story to start with. Having watched the recent BBC series based on this book, I was keen to read the original, which obviously provides much more information than could be crammed into a few hours of gripping television. But here’s the problem: the BBC drama ends with the SAS’s formative period in the North African desert doing battle with Rommel’s Afrika Korps. The book goes on for some time after that, detailing the SAS’s later wartime exploits in Italy, France and Germany. And, as the author admits, they were often not always able to do what they did best in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. Indeed, by the end of the war, they were as likely to be ambushed by the enemy as be the ones doing the ambushing. There are some good scenes in the second half of the book, but the source material is clearly not as interesting as that provided for North Africa. Still, you won’t go wrong with Macintyre’s book — recommended. ( )
  ericlee | Dec 22, 2022 |
‘Los hombres del SAS’: Cómo matar a un centinela alemán con una daga alada", Jacinto Antón, El País 18.12.2022: https://elpais.com/television/2022-12-18/los-hombres-del-sas-como-matar-a-un-cen...
  Albertos | Dec 18, 2022 |
By Michiko Kakutani
NYT
Oct. 3, 2016

Ben Macintyre’s suspenseful new book, “Rogue Heroes,” about the founding of Britain’s S.A.S. during World War II, reads like a mashup of “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Great Escape,” with a sprinkling of “Ocean’s 11” thrown in for good measure. Like earlier Macintyre books set during that war (“Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies” and “Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory”), this volume features an ensemble of eccentrics, mavericks and malcontents. And, in this case, one visionary, David Stirling, who invented an elite commando unit that would become the prototype for a new kind of modern warfare, and the model for special forces around the world, including the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force.

In 1941, Mr. Stirling, an aristocratic dilettante who found his calling as a soldier, was recuperating in a Cairo hospital from injuries sustained during an ill-judged parachute jump. Studying a map of North Africa — where British forces were facing off against Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps — it occurred to Mr. Stirling that small groups of highly trained commandos could operate behind German lines, sabotaging aircraft, runways and fuel depots. Looking for men who could extract “the maximum out of surprise and guile,” he sought soldiers who exhibited independence and self-reliance.

“Recruits tended to be unusual to the point of eccentricity,” Mr. Macintyre writes, “people who did not fit easily into the ranks of the regular army, rogues and reprobates with an instinct for covert war and little time for convention, part soldiers and part spies; rogue warriors.”

Mr. Macintyre draws sharp, Dickensian portraits of these men and displays his usual gifts here for creating a cinematic narrative that races along, as Mr. Stirling’s crews find themselves in one harrowing situation after another — trudging through blazing desert heat with precious little water or food; desperately trying to elude snipers and ambushes as they rush to blow up German airplanes and supply lines; attempting to extricate themselves from dire predicaments that would test the resourcefulness, never mind stiff upper lip, of James Bond.

Because this history of S.A.S. (Special Air Service) during World War II — based on documents compiled as the “SAS War Diary” and made public in 2011 — is episodic, it lacks the coherence of Mr. Macintyre’s earlier books, which focused on a particular mission or central character. The colorful Mr. Stirling and his co-conspirator in founding S.A.S., Jock Lewes (who was as austere and disciplined as Mr. Stirling was fond of drink and gambling), only intermittently hold center stage, and many of the men they recruit suffer horrific deaths not long after we get to know them. Besides Mr. Lewes and Mr. Stirling, the one team member who remains firmly wedged in our minds is Paddy Mayne,who has a capacity for “devotion on an almost spiritual level” but is also given to terrifying bursts of violence on the battlefield and off.

Mr. Macintyre is masterly in using details to illustrate his heroes’ bravery, élan and dogged perseverance. He makes us feel the “constructive brutality” of the training that recruits endured — marching up to 100 miles through the desert, carrying a full load of equipment and prohibited from taking a drink of water until the trek’s end. He describes men who died — or were horribly injured — during missions and had to be left behind. And he conveys both the heart-stopping horrors of combat — one fight left 21 men dead, 24 wounded, 23 as prisoners — and the plucky, schoolboy spirit that emerged as their default setting.

“Stirling never relaxed his dress code,” Mr. Macintyre writes. “Whether going into battle or unwinding after it, he always wore a tie. The men chatted idly in the heat, using a shared jargon, weighted with euphemism, black humor, and profanity, a private language unintelligible to a stranger: heading into the desert was ‘going up the blue’; a raid was ‘a party’ or ‘jolly’; grumbling was ‘ticking’; sinking into sand was ‘crash diving’ or ‘periscope work.’”

While individual S.A.S. sabotage and reconnaissance missions (in Libya, Egypt, Italy, France and Germany) are evoked with considerable verisimilitude, Mr. Macintyre has difficulty zooming out from his heroes’ story to give a broader understanding of how their operational work fit into the larger canvas of the war. The story of what happened to the S.A.S. at war’s end feels truncated and rushed, as does the story of how it would be resurrected and copied around the world. At the same time, the book never delves into the mind-set of special forces soldiers with the power and immediacy of “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen (a.k.a., Matt Bissonnette, a member of the Navy SEAL Team 6, which took out Osama bin Laden).

What “Rogue Heroes” does do is provide a gripping account of the early days of S.A.S. and some understanding of just how rapidly it revolutionized a form of modern war that has grown ever more important as governments seek to find alternatives to traditional and costly wars of occupation.
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ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • “Rogue Heroes is a ripping good read.”—Washington Post (10 Best Books of the Year)

Britain’s Special Air Service—or SAS—was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young aristocrat whose aimlessness belied a remarkable strategic mind. Where most of his colleagues looked at a World War II battlefield map and saw a protracted struggle, Stirling saw an opportunity: given a small number of elite men, he could parachute behind Nazi lines and sabotage their airplanes and supplies. Defying his superiors’ conventional wisdom, Stirling assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend not just the balance of the war, but the nature of combat itself.

Bringing his keen eye for detail to a riveting wartime narrative, Ben Macintyre uses his unprecedented access to the SAS archives to shine a light on a legendary unit long shrouded in secrecy.
  meadcl | Dec 1, 2022 |
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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.

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