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Soldier: The Autobiography [Hardcover]

General Sir Mike Jackson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Sep 2007
General Sir Mike Jackson's illustrious career in the British Army has spanned almost 45 years and all that time he has shown loyalty, courage and commitment to the British army whilst also being an undeniable media attraction. A man of substance where foreign policy is concerned, he has served in theatres from the Artic to the jungle but is perhaps best known for his role in charge of the British troops to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, for assembling the British ground component of the coalition that toppled the Taliban, for equipping and organising the army we dispatched to defeat in Iraq and for re-organising the British army with aplomb. His drive, enthusiasm and dominating personality were always popular with his soldiers and drove him right to the top of his profession. He may have been a general but he never stopped caring about the men and women in his charge, despite the politics. "Soldier: The Autobiography" exhibits all the qualities for which Jackson is admired; his professionalism, his honesty, his directness, his exuberance and his sense of humour. Most of all, it gives a vivid sense of what modern soldiering entails.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (10 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593059077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593059074
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overated 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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read biography of a modern general 6 Sep 2008
By Mr X
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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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read. 13 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I always find it interesting to hear what a senior soldier such as the author has to say. It is very well written and most entertaining.
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65 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth every penny 12 Sep 2007
By alex
Format:Hardcover
general jackson deserves every penny of the £900000 this publisher paid him for this magnificent book about his life as great britain's greatest soldier. Known to everyone as Mike his career in the British Army spanned almost 45 years and in that time he showed loyalty, courage and commitment to the British army whilst also being an undeniable media attraction. He had charisma. A man of substance where foreign policy and human rights is concerned, he served in theatres from the Artic to the jungle but is best known for his role in charge of the British troops to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, for assembling the British ground component of the coalition that toppled the Taliban, for equipping and organising the army we dispatched to defeat in Iraq and for re-organising the British army with aplomb. His drive, enthusiasm, compassion, generosity and dominating personality were always popular with his soldiers and drove him right to the top of his profession. He may have been a general but he never stopped caring about the men and women in his charge, despite the politics. "Soldier: The Autobiography" exhibits all the qualities for which Jackson is admired; his professionalism, his honesty, his directness, his exuberance and his sense of humour. Most of all, it gives a vivid sense of what modern soldiering entails. If only we had more men like Mike!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Mike Jackson gives a facinating incite to the background and conduct of major events such as Northern Ireland troubles, Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more
Published 8 months ago by simon: Hampshire
5.0 out of 5 stars Very worthwhile read.
I found the book a very interesting account of Sir Mike`s life and experiences in the army. Particularly the part about the ambush at Warrenpoint as I am from the area and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by G. T. Woolsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Soldier: Autobiography Hardback Book
Excellent price and postage, arrived quickly and in good condition, ordered it for a birthday gift and was extremely pleased with it. Thank you very much!
Published on 8 Feb 2011 by jac55
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly truthful book
My husband is not normally a reader but couldn't put this book down so I had to have a read too! I found it incredibly insightful and truthful, really gives you a different... Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2010 by granadam
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
I would heartily commend this book to readers, as it is funny, sad, poignant and gripping in equal measure. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2009 by Mrs. TK Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Summary of Recent European History
This book is a brilliant summary of recent European history, written in a very acceptable form. If you're fuzzy about the difference between Kosovo and Bosnia, or never really... Read more
Published on 5 Nov 2008 by Christopher Hession
5.0 out of 5 stars Soldiers be proud - politicians ashamed
Thoroughly engageing book clearly written by a remarkable man. His thinly veiled contempt for his ludicrousy unqualified politician paymasters brings unexpected humourous... Read more
Published on 6 April 2008 by Ginola14
2.0 out of 5 stars Diasppointing
As a career soldier of some 25 years and someone who respected the General when he was serving, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Read more
Published on 13 Jan 2008 by T. Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous autobiography
I think this book deserves 5 stars. It has a great career to describe (3 tours in Northern Ireland, cold war Berlin, divisional command in Bosnia and then KFOR command in Kosovo)... Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2007 by Richard Barnes
4.0 out of 5 stars Shrewd observations on recent conflicts
This is a fascinating account of life in the British Army. General Sir Mike Jackson had almost 45 years' army experience, finishing at its head as Chief of the General Staff. Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2007 by William Podmore
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