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J. D. Lane (United Kingdom)

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The Saints: The Rhodesian Light Infantry
The Saints: The Rhodesian Light Infantry
by Alexandre Binda
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story of a fighting unit, 2 Jan. 2008
I implore everyone who served in the RLI to get a copy of The Saints. You have a lot to be proud of, and this book is a record of your courage and skill.
For soldiers of the modern era, there is much to consider here. For troops with the courage and aggression to employ such confrontational tactics, this book illustrates clearly what fast moving small deployments can achieve. The caveat is that such aggression attracts casualties, and today's politicians struggle to find the courage of their shaky convictions required to justify the casualties. The men of the RLI believed in what they were fighting for (as did the rest of the excellent Rhodesian war effort). The RLI's lethal aggression ensured their enemies didn't survive to fight another day.
What a pity the British imposed Mugabe upon that once bountiful land. Lord Carrington and his duplicitous, double dealing cronies have much to answer for in terms of modern Zimbabwean misery.

Good To Great
Good To Great
by Jim Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.95

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insights - a real kick in the nads for the macho heroic leader!, 22 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
Jim Collins and a team of researchers have spent 5 years trying to identify the essential characteristics found in great companies but absent in merely good companies.

Heard it all before? Well I thought I had, but in contrast to the usual highly predictable drivel that purports to explain the success of companies, Collins uncovers some really unexpected insights. Charismatic, dominant, headline-grabbing leaders turn out to be bad. The meek (but not weak!) shall inherit the Earth. And there's a good explanation too.

Without revealing the rest of the findings, the book sweeps aside the dogma we have been fed about successful companies, their leaders, culture, practices, turn around processes, the role of technology, growth through acquisition etc.

Collins leaves the reader with a distilled set of principles that have turned unremarkable companies into great companies which achieved sustained superior performance, even in unattractive industries. This insight is derived from many hours of interviews with executives from great companies and similar comparator companies. Collins manages to organise and verbalise the intuitive, unformatted, instinctive drivers of actions and decision making that has served these companies faithfully, and which remained constant during and in the build up prior to their most successful periods. Those companies that stray from the rules revert to mediocrity or worse, which is reasonable evidence in support of the theory.

There is a lot to be said for this book, but don't show it to your competitors!

Pamwe Chete: The Legend of the Selous Scouts
Pamwe Chete: The Legend of the Selous Scouts
by Ron Reid-Daly
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but flawed as a history?, 5 Feb. 2007
Until I read Dennis Croukamp's "Only my friends call me Crouks", I thought Pamwe Chete was a simply marvellous book recording the history and achievements of an incredible counter insurgency unit. Make no mistake, Ron Reid-Daly's insider's insights give us a priviledged view of how this unit came about and pulled off the most successful pseudo strategy in modern warfare. Add to that the accounts of hugely audacious external operations, be they devastatingly destructive raids, covert recce or sabotage, and this is one hell of a book to be savoured by anyone with an appreciation of strategy in modern warfare.

Apart from the fact that R R-D was there virtually from start to finish, the Selous Scouts operated on a strictly need to know basis. R R-D was one of the few to know everything that was going on. In essence, he is the one witness of Scout history that we should be able to rely upon for the complete story. Dissappointing, therefore, to find that some epic stories of Scouts history are ignored by Reid-Daly, apparently because Croukamp wasn't flavour of the month by the time he left the unit. I am left wondering what else has been ommitted, presented in a biased way or simply not credited to the deserving soldier?

I wouldn't sell my copy of this book for anything, it is an incredible read, but I now view it with slight mistrust which is a pity. I guess the author is still the master of deception and manipulation, even now.

Fortunately, "history has many witnesses" (an appropriately philosophical quote from a third party in Croukamp's book - note the emphasis on third party - Croukamp's writing is many things but not philosophical). At the time of writing this review, Pamwe Chete is impossible to get, unless you are prepared to take out a mortgage for a second hand copy. The book deserves to be reprinted, and hopefully Ron Reid-Daly will take the opportunity to put things right as far as possible.

To those who own Pamwe Chete and to those who are still trying to get their hands on a copy, I thoroughly recommend Dennis Croukamp's book. Where Pamwe Chete gives a high level historical account, Croukamp gives a forthright, no bull account of his own service in the Scouts and the RLI. It is an extraordinarily detailed account of a master soldier using all of his skills and tricks.

Only My Friends Call Me Crouks (The Bush War in Rhodesia)
Only My Friends Call Me Crouks (The Bush War in Rhodesia)
by Dennis Croukamp
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 1 Feb. 2007
Rhodesia was full of huge characters and this is a great book by one such man. The book oozes with his knowledge of soldiering. The descriptions of hunting down the enemy and of being hunted bring all of these skills to the fore. The daring of the missions is breathtaking and is balanced by Croukamp's resolute and calm focus on the task at hand.

However, the charm of the book lies in the casual conversation that the author has with the reader. There ain't much philosophy here, but there are plenty of forthright (sometimes naive) views. Croukamp was very well connected and a number of doyens of the Rhodesian military get bloody noses. There's no malice in it (he just tells it as he saw it). In a typically uncompromising and uncomplicated gesture of fair play, Ron Reid-Daly even gets some space to reply to critisms, which is more than he gave his targets in Pamwe Chete!

This book requires no great power of concentration, it is easy to read and the stories come complete in bite size chunks. Once started though, I don't think many will be able to put it down - certainly this ex RLI man couldn't. Good on you, Crouks!

Fireforce: One Man's War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry
Fireforce: One Man's War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry
by Chris Cocks
Edition: Paperback

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, deserves to be read widely, 2 Jan. 2003
This is a deeply moving factual account. There will be many, who served in the RLI at that time, who will find in this book a frank and raw expression of the emotions that they experienced. The book takes the reader through three years of life in the RLI. Every aspect, from the moments of exhilaration and unadulterated mischief to the adrenalin and blood soaked emotions of the action, is captured in a humble unaffected narrative. The ferocity of the RLI, the pride, the moments of shame, the fear and above all the sorrow for lives wasted and shattered on both sides - Chris Cocks recalls it for us all with startling clarity. We get to know the people he knew and are shocked at the demise of many of them. Few appear to get through totally unscathed.
I find myself picking the book up time and time again and re-reading passages. The photographs remind the reader that these were real experiences thrust upon real people, young people, many of whom shared his subsequent disillusion and struggled to find a place in normal society afterwards.
For anyone who served, beware! this book will stir up long suppressed memories, but this book deserves a much wider audience. It is a powerful reminder of the follies of war.

The devastating success of the fireforce tactic relied on the identification of targets. "Pamwe Chete" by Ron Reid-Daly (available through Amazon)is a fascinating insight into the methods of the Selous Scouts, who operated in the murky secret world of infiltration, so successful that the fireforces operated by the RLI couldn't keep up. Read one or both, you'll be staggered.

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