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First Into Action: A Dramatic Personal Account of Life Inside the SBS [Paperback]

Duncan Falconer
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
First Into Action: A Dramatic Personal Account of Life Inside the SBS First Into Action: A Dramatic Personal Account of Life Inside the SBS 4.5 out of 5 stars (137)
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Book Description

1 July 1999
The SBS was first into battle a month before the SAS in the Falklands War and again in the Gulf War, yet hitherto it is the SAS that has had by far the higher profile. The SBS draws its man-power solely from the Marine Commando Units and the Royal Marines are the oldest and most battle-honoured regiment in the world. FIRST INTO ACTION is the first Special Boat Services memoir written from the inside. It tells how Duncan Falconer trained with the Royal Marines in Deal before being recruited into the SBS at Poole in Dorset. The regimen of ruthless training is graphically described and the book also includes revelatory accounts of SBS operations in Ulster, Bosnia and the Gulf War, and the intense rivalry between the SAS's individualist mentality and the more team-based, marine ethos of the SBS. Duncan Falconer's grippingly detailed memoir is sure to command the attention of anyone interested in the Special Forces and how they operate.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New edition edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751526304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751526301
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 610,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Duncan Falconer is a former member of Britain's elite Special Boat Service and 14 Int., Northern Ireland's top-secret SAS undercover detachment. His first book, the bestseller First Into Action, documented the real-life exploits of the SBS.

After more than a decade of operational service he left the SBS and went into the private security circuit. In the past few years, Falconer has operated at length and often alone in places such as Afghanistan, the Nigerian Delta, Palestine, Liberia and throughout Iraq, sometimes writing his books while bullets shower the compound he is staying in.

Product Description


A must for military buffs. (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

Book Description

* Compulsive insider's account of life within the Special Boat Services, the SBS.

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I was in my first ambush waiting to kill two men I had never seen before. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE Account of SB Life 12 Dec 2010
By Colin W
I received this book on Friday lunch time and finished early Saturday. A reason for buying was seeing Duncan's picture and remembering him from my time in the Marines, I served 77 to 84.

This is one of the best factual accounts of SF work I have ever read and due to my own life and knowledge of those who contributed to the book, know it is at no point a work of fiction. The accounts are accurate and not just told by Duncan as many other former members of the SBS helped, as he states in the book. This has to be one of the best books written by a SF operative.

The reviews are mainly positive with a couple who question the author, to that end they are wrong as the events are true and factual and in many cases are told in a way that must have been close to the mark as far as the MOD were concerned. One critique questioned some of the diving detail to which I would say you are a fool to compare sports diving to anything to do with the diving SB undertake and in the 70's and 80's the trials were still very experimental and watching Seal teams when they came to Poole was nothing more than farcical when confronted by the dark water dives and equipment.

Some of the accounts have brought a tear as some of the people described were people I knew and respected very highly.

Do pictures make a book? NO not in this case as they would just be the same as any you find on the Internet due to the OSA and in many cases would not tie in with the book. Should he have used dates? again NO as anyone worth his salt can work out from the events rough dates after all the Falkland took place over a few months in 1982 so come on people use your brains.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best SBS Book by Far 27 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Great book, much better than I expected. Some reviewers say they are annoyed with the author's coldness, brevity and lack of detail of certain events but I think that's due in part to the need for confidentiality of those events. I was not bothered by it and did not feel like it detracted from the book. I thought it had a plethora of information and events were explained very thoroughly. If it was too DETAILED or too GENERAL then I would question it's authenticity. I like the anonymity of the SBS, as the author says, it makes their job easier. This is the book to read if you want to read about the SBS or even the SAS. I'm burned-out on all the SAS/SEAL hoopla and wanted something a little different. The SBS are not as well known in Britain as the SAS and even less so here in the US, I only found this book when I was unknowingly transferred to Great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
"First into Action" is an excellent book written by a former member of the RM SBS. It is an eye openning description of the Special Forces world, and an excellent counter-balance to the barrage of literature relating to the SBS's land loving cousins in Hereford. However, the author does not mention the SBS's role in the Balkans which is unfortunate, and he does not give an upclose comparison to the SEALs like he does with the SAS. On the other hand, his description of selection into the SBS is a real eye-opener, and hopefully others will follow his example in the fight against the SAS dominated Directorate of SF in the areas of memoir publishing and the ability of former members of SF to pursue their own futures outside of the SF world as they see fit. An outstanding read that I recommend to anyone interested in the spooky world of Special Forces.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb 15 Mar 2002
By A Customer
If you are only going to read one special forces memoir then make it this one. Duncan has an understated writing style that is very effective. He was in the SBS for a long time and relates some gripping stories. There's a lot of variety in this book covering a wide spectrum of SF duties, from submarine exits and parachute jumps to intelligence ops in Ireland. The author does not avoid some of the mistakes made and comes across as a modest and mature individual. (Not always the case with SF books).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable 2 Feb 2011
By Alan
I could not put this book down. There aren't many insider accounts of high profile hostage rescues like you might find in some SAS books, but regardless, this book remained interesting throughout.
It is a very personal account of one mans career in the SBS, where he talks about his selection, training, and operations.
It is written, in my opinion, from as subjective a view point as you could hope to achieve, having served with the unit in question for so long.
I think one of the strongest points of the book is that the author dispels the myth that special forces operators are super-human. He does this by continually weaving humourous and tragic events into the military text.

If you are looking for an all out, guns blazing book on specific operations within special forces, then this book is probably not for you. If you are interested in having a 'warts and all' peek into the life of an SBS operative then you will very much enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellant book 6 April 2002
I had real trouble putting this book down. Duncan Falconer's experiances in the SBS were filled with fun as well as tragedy. Well writen this book shows an insight to Britains "peace time" special forces. I would strongly recomend this book to anyone with an interest in the British army, and definately anyone thinking of joining the Royal Marines.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writer, who has been there and done it
Great writer, who has been there and done it. This allows him to be explicit in his detail when writing fiction. Really enjoyed this book
Published 18 days ago by Mr. Alan S. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars really interesting
If your a Mcnab or chris ryan fan then im sure this book will appeal to you. the book gives an account of the authors time served with the SBS and some of the work conducted as... Read more
Published 1 month ago by keefo!
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read about the SBS, without the gung-ho BS!
A vary enjoyable read from an ex-member of the UK Special Forces SBS. This tells of his story as he joins the Royal Marines as a teenager and being part of a pilot scheme in which... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Traffic
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant, as an ex marine I can relate to a lot of what he...
This book is extremely well written and flows so well that even if it wasn't about the SBS it would still be an excellent read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wilfrid Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This is the best book of it's type. I have read many SAS and SBS books but this one really stands out. It's a true account of Duncan Falconers time in the marines and then the SBS. Read more
Published 2 months ago by C. Mills
5.0 out of 5 stars best special forces book I've read!
Amazing description of life in special forces and a truly unparalleled early life, surely no soldier has ever done so much at such a young age!
Published 4 months ago by robjsmith69
3.0 out of 5 stars Anti SAS
A little too anti SAS for my liking. Some of the stories are great and don't need the SAS jibe at the end. We get the point. Read more
Published 4 months ago by g.b. rabone
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
To read this book is a humbling experience. An accurate witty account. We owe these men our utmost respects. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bill Barclay
3.0 out of 5 stars Its ok.... BUT
I read a whole raft of these soldiers stories recently (Ed Macy - Apache, Fire Strike 7/9 - Bommer Grahame and Sniper One) all of which I really enjoyed. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars makes a pleasant change to read about SBS
Quite an informative book about the author's experiences of his time in the SBS. I would have liked a bit more detail though I fear that would have got him in deep sticky stuff?
Published 4 months ago by A. Aldred
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