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The Operators: Inside 14 Intelligence Company - The Army's Top Secret Elite Paperback – 6 Nov 1997


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Paperback, 6 Nov 1997
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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 1.9 x 11.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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93 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Tinfoilhat on 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 By steve@selectcs.demon.co.uk on 21 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By skill692 on 7 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 much was left out ?? he did say in the preface that some of the content was not allowed in by whithall, makes you think dosent it, He could have left out the bit about the his gentlemans club in london , but hey well done james.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By - alikat - VINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with some of the other reviews here, in that this is an interesting read but was a bit disappointing in the end. The first two thirds of the book is purely a detailed account of the selection process for 14 Int., and whilst it's very interesting, it's not dissimilar to what other elite units go through (SAS, SBS). So, if you've read any other similar books then you may find this pretty repetitive. I was pretty surprised that the author only spent 12 months in the unit after all the time, training and investment in him. Also because of the short time he spent on actual operations, the book is very unbalanced and light on the actual operational side of things. A well written book and an interesting read, but may have been more suitably titled "The Operators: In Training with Britain's Most Secret Service".
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark T on 13 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam on 3 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Myra King on 26 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
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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