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SAS: Phantoms of War - A History of the Australian Special Air Service [Paperback]

David Sanford Horner

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Book Description

1 April 2002
Originally published as "SAS Phantoms of the Jungle" in 1989, "SAS: Phantoms of War" is the history of the Australian Special Air Service. This edition has been updated to include details of the SAS's activities in the 1990s and into the 21st century. Based on patrol reports and interviews with participants, this Australian military classic tells the story of the formation of the SAS, its secret role in Borneo during confrontation with Indonesia and its operations in Vietnam. The SAS operated deep behind enemy lines, conducting surveillance at close range, poised to spring into violent action at need. It was with good reason the Viet Cong came to call them Ma Rung - "phantoms of the jungle". After Vietnam, the SAS formed a crack counter-terrorist force, ready to defend Australia. It became involved in action in Somalia, Kuwait and East Timor in the 1990s and, in 2000, the security of the Sydney Olympic Games. This book tells the story of a highly disciplined force operating secretly at the cutting edge of Australia's defence in war and peace.

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About the Author

David Horner is Professor of Australian Defence History in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, he served as an infantry platoon commander in South Vietnam and has had many years of regimental and staff experience. In 1998, as an Army Reserve colonel, he became the first head of the Army's Land Warfare Studies Centre. He has written numerous books on military command, operations, defence policy and strategy, including Defence Supremo, Blamey: The Commander in Chief and Breaking the Codes (co-authored with Desmond Ball).

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about the SASR 30 Jan 2008
By J. W. Mullins - Published on Amazon.com
The boook I have is called SAS Phantoms of the Jungle, which I purchased in New Zealand. Phantoms of the Jungle refers to the 1989 published version of this book. Phantoms of War is an updated book that includes the 1990s until almost present day.

The Australian involvement in Vietnam is a little known fact to many Americans now a days. Which is unfortunate because they played a vital and heroic role in that war. The SAS played a vital part in that war and like American special forces it was one of the events that would define the unit and what it would become. Phantoms of the Jungle is a history of the Australian SASR from their founding in 25th July 1957 until the mid 80. Its a book full of facts, and reads as a history, not a best selling war novel. With that in mind it is a great look into a unit that until the war in Afghanistan was little known to the majority of Americans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mostly Excellent History of the Australian SAS 17 Dec 2012
By mastermindquiet - Published on Amazon.com
While many people with an interest in military history will instantly associate "SAS" with the British Special Air Service, fewer are aware that Australia also formed her own SAS back in the 1950's. In this book Horner relates the history of the unit, from the earliest discussions among politicians and military leaders about the need for such a unit through their deployment to East Timor in 1999-2000. Note that the book doesn't include any information on the ASAS deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. This sizable book not only deals with their military operations, but with matters as mundane as government funding, building refurbishments and recruiting standards. As such, at times the book can get a bit dull for those looking for an excitement military history read.

However, if you bear with the book through the more tedious parts, or just skim or skip them altogether, you will find some truly fascinating stories of combat operations in Borneo, Malaysia, South Vietnam and East Timor. The author interviewed many active service and retired members of the regiment and as a result the stories of the patrols in these theaters of war are written at the level of the experience of the individual soldier. Combat operations almost always consisted of patrols of no more than four or five men, staying on ops for days at a time, moving in silence for hours. The narrative of the combat patrols have that "you are there" feel to them and will be appreciated by those who wish to understand how these special forces types worked in ways so different than traditional infantry.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proud history 7 Mar 2010
By Nicholas R.W. Henning - Published on Amazon.com
I found this book very pleasing, as it provides an excellent history of Australia's highly elite Special Air Service. This book is comprehensive with detail, which includes information regarding the formation of the SAS, and activities that I was not aware of until reading this book. Learning about engagements in Borneo in the early 1960's and the depth of services of the SAS, which includes counter-terrorism made for good reading. It came as a suprise that more SAS personnel have lost their lives in training activities than from enemy fire. It is therefore important to appreciate the highly specialised training that they undertake to protect Australia. The Vietnam aspect of the book interested me most, and it is not often that an enemy in war offers such a complimentary nickname, such as the Vietnamese referring to the SAS as "phantoms of the jungle." This book inspired me to have a character in one of my own novels to have an SAS background.

Nicholas R.W. Henning - Australian Author
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