In "The Daring Dozen: 12 Special Forces Legends of World War II", Gavin Mortimer sets out to tell the stories of 12 of the Second World War's most extraordinary and visionary exponents of what in modern terms we would call `special operations'.
It is a well paced book and a decent read. It is a good analysis of the dozen who range from the very well known (Stirling and Wingate) to the more obscure (such as the Italian Junio Valerio Borgheseb and the German Baron Von Der Heydte). However, I was dissatisfied with the overall selection of the dozen. For instance, the stories of David Stirling and Orde Wingate are widely told elsewhere yet both are included whilst the most famous Axis exponent of special operations, Otto Skorzeny, is not.
The chapters on Anders Lassen, Paddy Mayne and Von Der Heydte are goog, although best of all was the biography of Ralph Bagnold, founder of the Long Range Desert Group (although it was a pity that room couldn't be found for a comparison chapter with the Hungarian László Ede Almásy, the nearest the Axis had to a Bagnold).
The chapter on Bagnold stands out probably because it is based on the author's use of the Bagnold papers in the Churchill Archives in Cambridge. Elsewhere, he relies on secondary sources, much of it published recently and widely available. Given the quality of the Bagnold chapter, it is a shame that the same level of research is apparently absent in other chapters.
Whilst the book does have several highlights, overall I was disappointed.