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Leading from the Front: An autobiography [Paperback]

Richard Dannatt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

26 May 2011

General Sir Richard Dannatt's distinguished career in the army has spanned thirty-eight years and seen him serve in many different theatres of conflict, from Northern Ireland (where he was awarded the Military Cross) to Bosnia and Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. His experiences have forged an unwavering loyalty to the fighting British soldier.

As Chief of the General Staff, he was given overall command of the British army at a time when the fighting was fiercest in Afghanistan. But from his very first day in the job, General Dannatt proved himself a courageous leader and a forceful advocate for his men, never shying from controversy to tell the truth as he found it.

More than any leader in recent times, Dannatt has used his position of command to get a better deal for the British soldier - the right equipment, the right conditions, the right reward - to do the job we ask of them. His leadership and example have shaped the debate about the role of the professional army in modern warfare.

Leading from the Front is General Sir Richard Dannatt's reflections on a life of military service which offers a characteristically frank analysis of whether Britain's defence strategy is fit to deal with the numerous threats we will face in the 21st century.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552162612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552162616
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A passionate and searingly honest account of four decades of army service, it offers both a sober caution of the past and a carefully thought-out blueprint for the future" (Saul David Sunday Telegraph)

"In this book, Sir Richard Dannatt has some thoughtful things to say not only about the past but also about the future shape of our forces. No one can read it without being reminded that we need, as a country, to take the military covenant with our forces with the utmost seriousness" (Richard Harries Church Times)

Book Description

The frank-speaking autobiography of one of Britain's most respected military leaders

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
General Sir Richard Dannatt's memoir of his time in the British army manages somehow to be both fascinating and banal.

Fascinating because of the detail he provides to back-up his severe criticism of Ministry of Defence civil servants and politicians, Labour ones in particular but Gordon Brown above all, for failing to fund the army sufficiently for the jobs they demanded of it. Banal because, despite his long experience of counter-insurgency and peace-keeping operations starting with Northern Ireland in the 1970s, his repeated message through the book is one of `give the army more money, give the army more time'.

The contrast with the US army and the way, for example, it has massively altered its counter-insurgency approach under General Petraeus is marked. Resources and time certainly feature in the lessons learnt by the Americans, but are very far from the whole picture. The picture Dannatt paints of the British army by contrast is, in this respect, unintentionally a deeply unflattering one because it gives the appearance of an army looking over the last 40 years and pointing the finger at others rather than asking questions of itself.

In fact, the British army has been rather smarter than Dannatt's account gives out, but how it has learnt the lessons of its mistakes such as those in Northern Ireland or tries to meet the continuing challenge to ensure that soldiers do not go violently out of control in the stresses of counter-insurgency are not stories told in this book.

The one significant area of army error Dannatt does concede in the epilogue is that the army's doctrine of "Go first, go fast, go home" was a wrong one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper autobiography 4 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is so nice to read an autobiography that is written (a) at the end of a distinguished career, and (b) for some purpose other than blatant self-aggrandisement. Sir Richard comes across as the ultimate army officer and family man, and gets his point across strongly without much controversy. I was expecting a few fireworks but actually his assessment of the political leaders during his time is more than fair, although rightly it would make for uncomfortable reading for certain Labour PMs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I expected and wasn't disappointed. 13 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Now we really know the truth. Thoroughly recommendable and will appeal to many members of society and all age groups.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Top man 19 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover
I read this book because I was impressed by the author's Christian testimony in the press. It is here in the book but I think muted in a typical traditional Anglican way. So I was rather disappointed that there was not more about how his faith influenced his life.

The general got to the top army post and was only denied charge of all the armed forces because of his outspoken standing up for the interests of his troops in a way the Labour government did not appreciate. One admires his courage on behalf of his troops and also his courage under fire in Northern Ireland.

If one is not into the technicalities of the army large parts of the book are hard going but Dannatt comes across as a first rate soldier and family man.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly honest, and challenging 16 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Amidst the uninspiring splurge of self-congratulatory memoirs that have found their way into the bookshops this autumn this book stands out as something very different. Perhaps this is to be expected from the man who made the hallmark of his time in office a resolute defence of the men and women under his command. Where he fought battles - in the press, for public opinion, and against the political classes - it was for his soldiers, their living conditions, pay, equipment, training and morale. He stood up publicly for the men and women who daily place their lives on the line for their country, as well as their families, and reminded us all of the sacrifice they were and are making for the comforts and freedoms we take for granted. His book, therefore, is refreshingly and strikingly honest, the exact opposite in fact of the ego-maniacal tomes we have seen from ex-Labour politicians of late.

Dannatt was attacked by some (especially those on the left of the political spectrum) for being 'too political', but this accusation does not stand scrutiny. It is even a little pathetic. By standing up to an uncomprehending liberal elite (in and out of government) for those who had to fight Blair and Brown's wars but who themselves had no significant political voice, Dannatt reminds us powerfully of the responsibility society has to its Armed Forces when they are sent to fight on our behalf. The other Chiefs appeared parochial, tribal and silent in contrast, except where it was to defend their numbers of fast jets or surface vessels.

As CGS Dannatt quite rightly defended the Army, but this book demonstrates convincingly that he did not do it not do so uncomprehendingly, or blindly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, and gripping autobiography. 28 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover
Very good book, I read it in about a week (which is quick for me,I'm quite a slow reader)
The book,as you may have guessed covers his career, from a young officer in Northern Ireland to his last posting as a General,and the events of Iraq and Afghanistan.
He covers his time in the Balkans in depth (which was a bonus for me I find that period of history fascinating) and in makes sense of a very complicated situation.

Damn good book,Buy it!
(if you enjoyed Soldier: The Autobiography read this)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written account of a life lived well.
I've read many biographies, and this is the least self-serving in a long time. It is a clear, entertaining and informative account of the life so far of a remarkable servant of the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Manninagh
5.0 out of 5 stars Down to earth account
Easy to read and very clear in his views and philosophy. Also seemingly honest stories and opinions of those he served wiith and against. Would recommend this book easily
Published 19 months ago by Mr R J Stokes
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of British
Some generals are cautious; others are bold risk-takers. That Lord Dannatt is in the latter category was proved by his willingness to challenge the Government when he was Chief of... Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2011 by John Winterson Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Honesty is the best policy
This is an excellent book and it is good to know that the top man talks to his staff at all levels.

It underrates the RAF contribution and that is the only fault I can... Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2011 by Thinker
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real leader
Richard Dannett's book is a real tonic. It combines interesting biographical matters, such as his wife and family and how he had to break news to his wife of yet another posting,... Read more
Published on 9 April 2011 by Mr. M. Dark
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading from the Front
Excellent - so good to hear Sir Richard reading this himself - and to hear such an honest frank view of the previous government from the 'gentleman' at the top on the front line!
Published on 10 Feb 2011 by J. M. Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, great price
Fantastic book, really informative..........bought Tony Blair's Biography for my son and this was a great book to tie in with that. Read more
Published on 8 Feb 2011 by jac55
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, informative and enjoyable
This book delivers an honest and insightful approach to the life and military career of this remarkable soldier. Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2011 by Bella H
5.0 out of 5 stars Leading From The Front
Having served in The Green Howards with Richard when he was a young subaltern, I found the book a riveting read. An excellent autobiography of a fine man.
Published on 30 Dec 2010 by Johno x1x
3.0 out of 5 stars Richard Dannatt
Not a bad read. Is a bit long winded in places and in my opinion padded out in places. Also a bit me me.
Published on 17 Dec 2010 by R. Jenkinson
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