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Soldier: The Autobiography Hardcover – 10 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (10 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593059077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593059074
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.2 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A very readable, personal account of a man who rose to the top of the army' -- The Guardian

'Engagingly recounted with both intelligence and candour' -- Sunday Telegraph

'He has a very interesting story to tell...An engaging and honest account'
-- Independent

'Insightful and valuable' -- The Times

Utterly compelling...Indispensable reading -- The Spectator

About the Author

General Sir Mike Jackson is the best known British General of modern times. He retired in the autumn of 2006 after almost 45 years of service in the British army finishing as its head as Chief of the General Staff.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 18 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Whenever people mention the subject of "great" British military commanders they might be forgiven for automatically thinking of Montgomery and Slim for their's were the battles on which the future of the free world was to depend. In a post-World War Two Britain, however, the names of few senior commanders from any of the three British armed services spring readily to mind. Within her army, however, the Parachute Regiment is able to claim more than it's fair share. Names like Anthony Farrar-Hockley, Geoffrey Howlett, Peter De La Billiere - to name but three. Now the name of Mike Jackson may be added to that august list of the greatest commanders of modern times.

It was 1971 when I first met Mike Jackson. I was a corporal attached to 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment in Palace Barracks, Northern Ireland. He was battalion adjutant in the rank of captain. The next time we met was some 18 years later in that same barracks. By then I was the captain - and he the brigadier. No, we were not in uniform, in fact he was playing a very hard game of rugby and I was a mere spectator. He was running down the wing at the time when an opponent bundled him off the field of play. He landed right beside me. "Hello Ned, good to see you again" he said and promptly got on with the game.

Since retiring as the professional head of the British Army, much has been said and written about General Sir Mike Jackson. Only he will know which plaudits are true and which are not. The one single characteristic for which he will always be remembered is, of course, the fact that he cared about the men under his command and when finally appointed Chief of the General Staff, that meant every single soldier in the British Army.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr X on 6 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
General Jackson's biography is an interesting read.

He starts by describing his early life and moves quickly on to his commissioning as an officer in the British army. I would have liked the book to spend a little longer on the early days of his career but the book is nevertheless interesting despite him not spending long on this period.

The chapters describing his time in Northern Ireland were particularly illuminating for me as that situation in which the army found itself involved was so unique that to hear how the army dealt with it was informative.

Later in the book General Jackson describes his time as a commander and ultimately as the commander in chief of the whole army and from these sections the reader is given an overview of the challenges of being in charge in a time when the role the army is being asked to undertake is very different from it's `conventional' role such as it performed in WWII for example.

The book gives a great insight into the skills required to be a commander today. His role in the Kosovo situation I felt was very stressful and it struck me that the continual rewording of the agreement under which the Serbs would withdraw from Kosovo was really more akin to the role of a lawyer than a soldier!

Overall a great book about a very interesting man and his career.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Claymore on 11 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Jackson was a charismatic leader who delivered whilst in operational command, and Kosovo was the pinnacle of this. This book illustrates that he had little time for those who did not have a can-do attitude, particuarly civil servants.

Yet the book also shows Jackson's weaknesses. He seems to have lacked any humility, with an overwhelming ambition and absolute belief in his own judgement. This can lead to poor decision-making. Jackson's obsession with a move from heavy to medium forces whilst CGS is sharply contrasted with the US Army's switch in the reverse, in the light of lessons from Iraq. The restructuring of the army went unquestioned, but its uneven execution has left many infantry officers and NCOs still deeply unhappy and uncomfortable. His refusal to speak out when he felt the army was being short changed, either by poor grand strategy or abysmal welfare provision, by the government is mentioned but can be sharply contrasted with his successor's approach.

As an account of life in the A stream of the Army over the last forty five years, it is a useful book - but it should be contrasted with Gen Rupert Smith's far intellectually weightier recent work.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ginola14 on 6 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
Thoroughly engageing book clearly written by a remarkable man. His thinly veiled contempt for his ludicrousy unqualified politician paymasters brings unexpected humourous smatterings to what is in equal parts shocking, inspiring and fascinating. Were this book to be fleshed out a little in terms of non-military historic events, a better first read for students of late 20th and early 21st century history you couldnt wish to find. The world should be run by people like sir mike - not the parasitic, disingenuous political leaders who lie and cheat their way into office.
Sir Mike has led real men and women in dangerous times in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq. I really found the no-nonsense chronoloical narrative intesresting and educational.
I wish him and his family all the best in whatever they are doing now.
Can't say the same for Blair or Bush.
RC
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