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The Elite: Story of the Rhodesian Special Air Service [Hardcover]

Barbara Cole
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Three Knights Publishing; 3rd edition (1 Mar 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0620074213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0620074216
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.4 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 837,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW what a book!! 7 Dec 2012
I must take issue straight away with AS Buntings review. The review was written in 2011, on a book written in 1984 about events that ended in 1980. It is always easy in hindsight to pick a book apart for lack of information. This book was written in 1984/85. It contains first hand accounts from those "on the ground". Yes, the true details of events were obscured, but remember that at the time of publication Apartied still existed. With everything taking place across that area of Africa, the SADF would not have wanted to advertise it's involvement. As I said, it is so easy to be wise sometime after the event.
This book is a fantastic history and social commentary on the course of the bush war against Rhodesia. It gives an excellent account of various missions, changes of tactics. The process of selection is well documented and I came away from this book with a renewed respect for Rhodesian special forces and "C" Squadron Rhodesian SAS in particular. The story around some of the Regimental "characters" is both funny and with pathos in the right parts.
The text is well supported by contemporary photographs. Some of these photographs also appear in the pictorial history, which is well worth buying if you can get a copy of that too. Reading the two side by side does give an excellent perspective on the bush war.
Buy both if you can.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking, but not definitive 29 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author conducted a vast quantity of first-hand research to compile this work, contacting many former Rhodesian SAS operators through her husband's connections ( though never stated in the book, she is married to Pete Cole who features in many of the missions ).

As such it is very comprehensive in the scope of operations covered and benefits from unique photos and diagrams provided the operators.

However because is was written so soon after the event it suffers by not being able to tell the full story. For example, D Squadron is omitted from this book as at the time it would have been too sensitive to reveal it was staffed entirely by SADF Recce personnel. A fictional account of parachuting in for the Beira oil attack is invented to cover the involvement of the South African Navy.

Several names of operators and ComOps staff are elided, too, and awkward narrative diversions are taken to avoid embarrassing some individuals. Four names appear on the Roll of Honour without further details; they actually died in SADF service in Mozambique in 1981, but Ms Cole's book will not tell you that.

The author also skims over some operations as one-liners, which is particularly jarring when a dozen pages are dedicated to the precursor.

There is no information about the organisation of the SAS other than that gleaned from ranks mentioned and even the move to a new, custom-built barracks in Kabrit is only mentioned in passing.

Selection and training receives some coverage but in general this book is about the officers and NCOs and the troopers are seldom discussed unless, grimly, they are injured or killed.

At times the narrative veers over from respect to sycophancy but in general the author manages to provide a tight and readable narrative. It's just a shame that this book is not the definitive account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Leather Bound
This is book was printed in 1984 and is one of the most sought after books on Rhodesia and her Special Forces operations. It has copious colour and black & white photo's, maps, schematics and detailed first-hand accounts of some of the most successful counter-insurgency operations in the history of warfare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "wow" 21 Jun 2013
the best book ive read about county insurgency an the RSAS role in the bush wars of thst time, great first hand accounts of the opperations that took place well behind the lines an politicle assassinations against the leaders of the gurila forces thay were up against. thay were the best an some of the ops described are pure who dares wins......
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest counter-insurgency force the world has known 17 Feb 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Leather Bound
This is an excellent and well-written book which tells the story of the Rhodesian Special Air Service - one of the best fighting forces in the world. The author documents the history of the Rhodesian SAS, from the early days in the Western Desert during WWII to the foundation of the Rhodesian SAS in Malaya, then back to Africa, where the SAS saw action through Federation and the UDI (Unilateral Decalaration of Independance).
While many books have been written about the Rhodesian bush war, this book stands out as exceptionally well-written and informative. To put this book into it's context, Rhodesians fought one of the most determined and tactically brilliant counter-insurgency wars of modern times for seven years, against huge odds. They were in an impossible strategtic situation with long and exposed borders, diplomatically isolated, the subject of economic sanctions, using obsolete military equipment and had severe manpower restrictions.
White Rhodesian casualties were proportionally ten times those suffered by the Americans in Vietnam, while the bush war itself was the most bitter struggle that has been fought in sub-Saharan Africa. While the insurgents were not winning, the Rhodesian military always conceded that a military victory was an impossibility and that the conflict could only be finally resolved by political means.
That Rhodesia fought on for so long against such huge odds and despite the many obstacles and lack of support from the west and the lack of vision and forsight of many of her politicians serves to illustrate the skill and bravery of her citizen-soldiers. The men of the Rhodesian SAS, among many others, epitomised this skill and bravery and this book tells their story.
Before this book, very little was publicly known about this highly-professional special forces unit, which traced its ancestry back to the Western Desert and the Malayan Emergency. This rather unique book tells the story of the exploits of this elite force, based on interviews with many of those involved together with records and documents which left Rhodesia as the bush war ended.
"The Elite" is one of those books which reads like an adventure novel but is factual from start to finish (truth IS stranger than fiction), relating the stories of operations detailing not only the political and miltary motivations but the stories of the men who carried out some amazing missions (and anyone with any military background will realise just how courageous many of these missions were). The Rhodesian SAS operated mostly across the borders, carrying out audacious deep-penetration missions inside neighbouring Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana. The soldiers of the Rhodesian SAS rarely lost a battle, but in the end this was of little or no consequence as the political pressures on this small country became overwhelming.
To conclude, if you're interested in the history of the Rhodesian bush war or special forces in general, this is a fascinating and well-written book which will keep you engrossed from start to finish. It's written from the Rhodesian point of view so don't expect too much in the way of "political correctness" or sympathy for the terrorist leaders`Nkomo and Mugabe. What this book does do, and it does it well, is preserve the memory and tell the story of one of the finest fighting forces the world has known.
After reading this book from cover to cover, the final thoughts that came to my mind were of all those Rhodesians who died fighting for their country - and while the quote is from another time, another place and another country, the sentiments remain the same.
"They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We will remember them.
We will remember them."

("The ANZAC Dedication", for those who are unfamiliar with this elegy to the memory of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in two World Wars)
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly excellent account of a truly excellent unit 30 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Leather Bound
Anyone who served in Rhodesia can only have respect for the SAS and the work they did (the same cannot always be said of the other special forces unit, the Selous Scouts who seem to get so much publicity). Their professionalism and focus was maintained right through to the end, despite the huge pressures that they and everyone in Rhodesia were faced with.
It is difficult for anyone who was not actually involved with Rhodesia to understand the motives that made the population, both white and black, fight so hard to maintain their freedom from Communism. It is too easy for modern commentators to describe this a a fight between a pampered white minority and an oppressed balck majority. This is simply not the case. Both white and balck joined together to fight against the unspeakably brutal onslaught that was manifested in the form of communist terrorists. By far the largest number of casualties of the war were africans murdered by their own people in the name of freedom.
The author writes honestly and in some great detail about the exploits of this famous unit. It is notable that even today the British SAS Regiment still has no C Squadron. A suitable tribute, they were indeed irreplacable.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Elite. The Rhodesian SAS. 9 Jun 2001
By Ion R Berry - Published on
This is truly a one of a kind, straight up and informative look into a people who stood up to the world but in the end were ganged upon and betrayed by the so called world leaders of the day.. They did so much with so little and yet made a difference. My hat goes off to all the Rhodesian units. Counter insurgency>this is it.. p>s More men more time, Hmmm ,Could have been a different ending. Five stars all the way, IB
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING 27 Dec 1999
By TE - Published on
Simply put, this is the best Non-Fiction unit history I have ever read...the amount of research that went into this book is phenominal. You MUST READ this book! The only question that remains is...Where can I get the "Elite Pictorial? "...if someone knows...EMAIL ME!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books written about the war in Rhodesia. 18 Jun 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Leather Bound
The book graps you from the first page and it is an unbelievable story. Also when you read it, remember, it is not fiction but non-fiction.
It is a memory to all the brave soldiers that fought alone against an enormous treat of Communisme in Africa, while the Western World turned against them and looked away, while the weapons of the enemy came flooding in from Russia and the rest of the East-Block countries.
With the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
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