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David Dearborn (Connecticut USA)
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One Hundred Days: Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander
One Hundred Days: Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander
by Admiral Sandy Woodward
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Mar. 2010
This fine naval autobiography takes us behind the scenes of the Falklands sea/air (not ground) war and modern battle management in general. Admiral Woodward didn't exactly know what he was sailing into back in 1982, and makes no attempt to hide his personal sense of vulnerability as Britain's first fighting admiral in high-tech warfare. In fact, the entire book is refreshingly down-to-earth. Woodward is quick to note that he was tapped for the job because he happened to be the navy's closest flotilla commander at the time (in Gibraltar)--and confides that his superiors almost replaced him with a higher-ranking officer even as he led the task force into danger. This is no stuffed-shirt memoir.
Woodward and co-author Patrick Robinson weave accounts of grand strategy and military politics through a genuinely absorbing narrative of men and machines in heavy weather, incessant tactical maneuvering, and flashes of terrifying combat. Along the way, there are plenty of 'what-if's to chew on. We learn that Woodward had to manipulate London to get HMS Conqueror to sink the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano (British subs weren't under his tactical command). He explains why the sinking was both necessary and tragic, and how Conqueror watched but spared Argentine ships coming to Belgrano's aid. He also reveals that his ships almost shot down a Brazilian airliner mistaken for a pesky Argentine recon jet; he personally gave the order to withhold fire. And Woodward's character shines through his account of ordering HMS Alacrity on a potential suicide mission to scout mines--in an exceptionally gracious mea culpa of command, he praises the captain's sterling courage while faulting his own mundane direction.

Also fascinating are the individual stories of the high number of British ships damaged or sunk, and Woodward's frustration with underperforming anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. This was more of a close call than the world knew at the time, as he makes abundantly clear. Ultimately, his modest approach on paper belies the fact that he and his task force pulled off a truly impressive naval feat. And it's a credit to Woodward the author-analyst that 'One Hundred Days' transcends the Falklands War to give an illuminating, first-person view of campaign and tactical battle coordination. It could find a home on bookshelves of Fortune 500 executives as well as students of naval and air operations. The style is also breezy (and occasionally humorous) enough for the casual reader. I've never seen it in a U.S. store, so thanks, Amazon. [Posted US Amazon August 2000]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2011 8:32 AM BST


The Dirty War
The Dirty War
by Martin Dillon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Dirty War (Paperback)
There are many reasons to buy and admire Martin Dillon's 'The Dirty War,' which is nothing less than a monumental achievement in investigative journalism. Dillon peels the lid off a very large can of worms--two decades of undercover conflict between the IRA (Official and Provisional), British Army, RUC, Loyalists and assorted other players in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1990. The author's painstaking research (including many first-hand interviews with participants) and scrupulous objectivity should make this book required reading in newsrooms and journalism schools everywhere. But it's not some dry exercise. A lot of 'The Dirty War' rivals the best non-fiction crime and detective writing. Dillon knows how to tell a story. He also has a knack of involving the reader in his exhaustive analysis of individual incidents and themes. When answers aren't evident, his not afraid to admit it; rather, he asks questions and draws us in. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the modern British Army and its counterterrorist tactics. But it's not an anti-British book and it's not an anti-IRA book. It IS continually fascinating and, refreshingly, has a strong moral compass in the author's value set to help the reader through the unpleasantness. [Posted US Amazon February 2000]


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