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The Operators: Inside 14 Intelligence Company - The Army's Top Secret Elite [Paperback]

James Rennie
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Nov 1997
14 Company is an elite British Army corps of men and women who are comprehensively trained and equipped to combat terrorism in a democracy. The selection process is extremely arduous, both physically and intellectually. Members of the corps bear false names and no personal identification - even to each other - and there are no internal ranks. This is an inside account of 14 Company through the eyes of an ex-operations officer.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (6 Nov 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099728710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099728719
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last time I'll wave a fist at dangerous drivers! 26 April 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an account of life with 14 Intelligence Company - a British military intelligence unit established in 1972 to conduct covert surveillance operations against terrorist organisations (of all stripes) in Northern Ireland. The unit is also known colloquially as '14 Int', and the 'Det' (because it is organised into 'Detachments'). The events related in the book occurred in the 1980s, but the unit is reportedly still in existence.
I first learned of 14 Int in Mark Urban's excellent "Big Boys' Rules". But Urban's book - about the role of special forces and the intelligence services in N.I. - is concerned with a wider thesis and 14 Int is only a part of its story. Peter Taylour's "Brits" contains rather more on 14 Int, including interviews with a couple of ex-Det members, but at times it veers perilously close to the rocks of sensationalism. However, both those books deal with 14 Int from an external perspective, whereas James Rennie tells the story from within this little known unit. He covers selection, training and actual operations.
The selection and training phases absorb well over half the book but that is no criticism: these sections are a gripping read. Such heavy emphasis on the training is quite unusual in this genre, and the effect is to impart a sense of the enormous, nay exhaustive, care and preparation that go into selecting and producing 'Operators'.
Selection standards for entry into the unit are extremely rigourous, both physically and mentally. The work of 14 Int is much more cerebral than that of other special forces groupings. Accordingly selection fortnight intersperses punishing tests of physical endurance with fiendish mental tests of memory, observation, concentration, planning, effective communication and so on (and on and on).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
An excellent book from James Rennie. Marred only slightly, by a rather 'twee' writing style. There is no question that Rennie was a 'Rupert'. However, the lack of ego and 'Gung Ho' ends up by being very refreshing. By far the most detailed account of Int 14 selection that I have read and good coverage of some very interesting ops. Anyone who operates in this environment is a hero in my book. If you liked 'One Up' from Sarah Ford, you will love this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!! 3 Dec 2006
By Sam
Great read for any walk of life... It kept me gripped until the end, in fact I read it within a couple of days!

My advice would be to buy it, and enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the un sung hero 23 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed reading this book a world of undercover work and danger in places of intrigue and secrecy, one man taking no credit putting his life on the line for country and national security.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty gritty stuff! 21 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I thought this was a very good and detailed account of British Special Forces activity. If you can believe it, it certainly shows a side to life that one would never guess at. I was given it as a present and would recommend it to a male friend, tho my girlfriend read it too and enjoyed it.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of undercover work 26 Jun 2002
By A Customer
What an eye-opener - this book, brilliantly written, tells of undercover ops in NI during the 1980s. The writing is fluent and the story gripping - who would have guessed what goes on right under our noses! I would highly recommend this to anyone with even the remotest interest in special forces and/or the situation in Northern Ireland. Top marks!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you think the SAS have it tough? 13 Feb 2008
By Mark T
This book was a real eye opener. I recently discovered a copy of this book and having read many of the SAS real life stories, did not really know what to expect.

What comes across is an in-depth look at an elite unit that most people know very little about. A unit so secret that they use false names and know very little about the other people they serve with. The book covers in detail the training, selection and the gruelling punishment this poses to those involved. This really is a "make one mistake and you are out" mentality.

That a unit as covert as the 14 Company, who actually take on and train members of the SAS, can have received very little published notoriety says a lot in itself. The members of these units have a job to do. A job that is genuinely dangerous and life threatening on a day to day basis. All the more difficult when you have to not only memorise an A-Z in depth, but know how to communicate to multiple moving Operatives at the same time in an urban or country environment, using a covert language - and be ready to enter a lethal fire fight on a regular occurrence.

Experts in weapons, surveillance, photography, survival, driving and amongst the most physically fittest people in the forces, these people deserve all our respect for the job they do and get no recognition for.

I can see why this book was a Sunday Times Bestseller. Buy it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling it how it really is 26 Feb 2014
Before being accepted into the elite 14 Company, volunteer guys and girls from all ranks of the three military services undergo testing and training so brutal very few make it.

Authenticity puts this book treetops higher than any fictional counterpart. I found myself sometimes forgetting to breathe, heart pounding with each escalation of conflict, training exercise, and hair-raising mission.

Rennie is a natural writer, good on description in the literal and objective sense, while still vividly capturing the essence of feeling and place. The pace flows, highs and lows, seamlessly with perfect timing.

The unimaginably hard training regimen, both mental and physical, the lighter moments and the interaction of the combatants, these utterly brave men and women, combine to make this one riveting, intriguing and highly interesting read. I absolutely loved it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A well written and very accurate book, a highly recommended read for anyone interested in the factual side of military life.
Published 3 months ago by Michael John Waters
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, fascinating … factual yet grips like the best of fiction –...
Having known very little of the kind of undercover work carriedout by special elements of the armed forces, I guess I was ready to find them cynical, hard-bitten, jaded and callous... Read more
Published 5 months ago by The Writing Pad
4.0 out of 5 stars exellent
A brilliant book and one that I could not put down, As stated in another review it is writen by a rupert and a bit twee, but full marks to the guy , he went there and did it, How... Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2012 by skill692
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting-but dry!
This is a fairly interesting book to understand at least the training aspect of special forces. This is in fact what most of the book comprises of. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2012 by Mackey
3.0 out of 5 stars another one of those stories.
Whilst in someways accurate, mainly glammed up to make a book, simply too much of this going on, too much, too much.
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by yerman
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Bought this book many years ago and loaned it out, it never got returned!! Such a fabulous read that I had to buy it again. Excellent.
Published on 18 Aug 2010 by Mrs. J. Chappell
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, valuable account
OK this is not the most exciting "real life spy" book you might every read but if you are at all interested in the subject matter it should be required reading, because it is a... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by R. Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars Demanding
To face terrorism is a real and demanding task. To be prepared for the task...is even more demanding
Published on 12 April 2010 by José Carrasco Muñoz
3.0 out of 5 stars In Training with Britain's Most Secret Service
I agree with some of the other reviews here, in that this is an interesting read but was a bit disappointing in the end. Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2009 by - alikat -
2.0 out of 5 stars Lets do the Training & write a book !!!
I picked this book up a few years ago. I served in Ulster for nearly four years so had some insight into the Det. Read more
Published on 9 April 2009 by B. SMITH
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