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4.6 out of 5 stars
Fighting Scared
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2007
Robin Horsefall is a very down to earth man. He tells the story as it is with no bravado, and at times, he is even a little shameful of things he has done. He does not try to be a hero, and I firmly respect the way he has written this book with apparent utmost honesty and lack of arrogance.

Rest assured that this still remains the most exciting SAS book I have read, and holds itself head and shoulders above "Bravo two zero" and "the one that got away". Horseful is master at setting the atmosphere and at times in the book I felt as though I were laid on the ground next to him behind enemy lines (with my heart racing).

Once you start this book you will think of little else until it is finished and then you will wish there was more.

All in all an absolutely superb read, I reccommend it whole heartedly!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Robin Horsfall really has produced a truly wonderful book, that makes for absolutely compelling reading - to the point that when I finished it, I turned straight back to the start and read it again.
From his early days as a boy soldier, to his trials and tribulations as a para, and eventually to the tough selection process to become a member of our elite SAS, this work will have you gripped from start to finish, with a good number of amusing anecdotes, such as the jungle's infamous "b***ard tree", which had me laughing out loud.
I'd remembered Robin's name from a wonderful BBC documentary charting the 6 days of the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980, where he was a member of the SAS team which stormed and brought to a conclusion that compelling episode in recent British history.
I'm so glad I did remember his name, as this book makes for one hell of a read.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2007
I had the pleasure of meeting Robin when we were both featured as guests on a political discussion show. To say it was an honour would be an understatement - he has a military record and personal history that marks him out as a truly remarkable man. Having firstly met him, and secondly read his book, I can well understand how he's gained such a legendary reputation amongst the military community.

Robin became a boy soldier at the tender age of 15 on the famously robust `Junior Leaders course'. If you've ever wondered why the British Infantry has consistently produced the finest NCOs in the world then one need look no further than this course: in the 1970/80s most of our RSMs were graduates of this scheme. Following on from that Robin became an elite Para at just 17 (another outstanding feat), and even more impressively, a fully blown SAS trooper at just 21.

But Fighting Scared is much more than just another Special Forces memoir, and the author's moving personal story of a grim childhood, and consequent fears and self-doubt, resonates throughout the expertly written text. Robin's story has a profound humanity and self-awareness behind it, and he explains clearly, and demonstrates with graphic candour, why walking away from violence is often the hardest thing to do.

Most readers will undoubtedly relish the adrenaline packed descriptions of daily life within the SAS and the remorseless cycle of military op's; but for me the story of his struggle for acceptance and fight for respect and dignity, within the Para's and basic training, was equally valid. Robin teaches us that the greatest victory of all is to merely stand up and be counted, and that if a man ever desires to be exceptional, then he has to be prepared to sacrifice everything he has.

An outstanding story and a true military classic.

Steven McLaughlin

Author of Squaddie - a soldier's story
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2009
Robin Horsfall was bullied as a child, both at school and by his step-father. This all but destroyed his self-confidence. However, he managed to get into the Parachute Regiment and (harder still) through its brutally tough training. He years later passed SAS Selection and served for about 7 years in that most publicized of "secret" soldier organizations, though of course in the 1970's not very many people (of the general public or in the so-called "green army") had even heard of that regiment.

In the SAS Regiment, Horsfall had an action-packed career, being one of those really actually present at the Iranian Embassy Siege (which burst the SAS onto the front page for ever) and elsewhere. He appears to have had considerable problems with his peers and the military authorities, though not for any of the obvious reasons that often come up (alcohol, adulteries, fighting with civilians). More, it seems to be that, as someone both intelligent and a little bit out of the usual box, his face failed to fit in at times. The same had happened with the Parachute Regiment. As a result, he was probably not promoted to the level he should have been. I should add that this is a very well-written book indeed, as good as the superficially similar books written by the ex-SAS writer known as Andy McNab. In fact, although Horsfall does not mention McNab, he must have known him quite well, because they were both in B Squadron at the same time.

I was interested to read something I had worked out from fragments in other memoirs, that the then tactical head of the SAS, Brigadier de la Billiere, was quite unpopular with his men, who, like Horsfall, thought him uncaring and vainglorious, who would kill them off to gain another medal or a good headline and who really only cared about himself, a point reinforced by the way in which "DLB" broke all the rules in writing his own bestselling memoirs, while people of lesser rank were disciplined or, if retired, cold-shouldered, for doing precisely the same. Actually, the fact that someone like myself, never part of the British Army, can piece together part of the (albeit mostly former) membership of the "secretive" SAS simply from publicly-available materials does seem to indicate that memoirs by SAS members are not totally without security risk (quaere?).

This book does give a much-needed brake to the kind of books simply glorifying the SAS and its officers and men, which are all-too common.

I felt that Horsfall had to overcome both external and internal obstacles to forward progress. In the end, he just outgrew the SAS, it seems. The later chapters deal with his life as a contract soldier in Sri Lanka, Africa etc and as a bodyguard for Fayed, before starting his own business, a number of karate schools; contrary to what one might think, the SAS are apparently given virtually no unarmed combat training as part of their official curriculum.

Overall, well worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2003
Great book showing some of the [authors] bad experiences in these famous regiments. Certainly sheds a different light on some very well publicised events. Finished it the day after I got it.. Allows people to draw their own conclusions as contradicts a lot of what has already been written. I can certainly identify with certain experiences during his first few months in the Army.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2003
This book encounters not only the extrordinary military life of the author, but also gives a very rare and wonderfully honest insight to the psych of an exceptionaly deep and complex individual,the way it is told makes it stand head and shoulders above any of the other glamourous accounts of military life,
it should be used as benchmark for all others.
I eagerly await any more from this exceptional author
this would make an exceptional script or screenplay purely for its emotional honesty.
I cannot reccomend it enough my only regret was that I read it too soon. often books are described as " unable to put it down"
but this expression genuinely describes this book.
i strongly feel that this work should be used as a textbook, to social historians, of a true account of a special man in a special era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2009
Very impressed with this book. Much more insightful and human than Andy Mcnab's SAS memoirs. I enjoyed AM's books and thought they were fine, until I read this one. The writing in this blows AM away. B20 was a fantastic book, but that was mainly becasue it was a fantastic, gripping story. Robin Horsfall can take normal human situations and write insightfully and thoughtfully about them. This book is as much a personal journey as a story of being in the SAS. It's clear that Robin, like most of us, is a flawed individual as he honestly and reflectively makes clear. Unlike most of us though, he's not afraid to bare himself to scrutiny and strive to improve himself. He's clearly very thoughtful and that has clearly caused some of the problems he had in the SAS: he was too questioning and analytical, by way of wanting things to be better. As a result, he didn't quite fit the gung-ho "what the hell" mentaility that otherwise seems to prevail. My wife, who normally wouldn't touch books like this with a barge-pole, got intrigued by some of the passages I read out, and read it when I'd finished it. She's NEVER read any of my books before. I'm not a great devourer of books by ex-soldiers, but this one is a keeper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2002
If ever a book was meant for the big screen this is it, as every emotion gets a look in.The bravery and guts of Robin Horsfall is admirable.Don`t think this book is for male readers only-I haven`t been able to put the book down.A fantastic read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2008
A really gripping story about a guy who gave his all and ended up being stabbed in the back by those who should have known better. Robin comes across as a real first class soldier who wanted to nothing more than to serve his Regiment. Perhaps he was just too good for those who could not match this guys professionalism. A great really true story which I could not put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2008
It has been said,that this is one of the best books about the sas.Well it is the -best-.Not only is it about the fights that Rob took part in,for the call of duty,but it goes deeper than that,by showing us that,there was a much larger fight to win,and that was his own personal fight.He does not hide the fact,that,he was like all of us,and that is scared of the pit falls that life has to offer,to be able to live it to the full.But unlike some,he took all of his past disapointments,and turned them into a victory.
I once phoned Rob,for a chat,expecting him,not to have the time,but infact he had all the time in the world,and not only that,but he sent me a signed copy of the book.A book about a little boy,who became a man,a man we can be proud of,not only in this generation,but in generations,to come.
Well done Rob,and God bless you mate...
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