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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 January 2013
James Owen's account of the Commandos is one of affectionate myth-busting. The Commandos in this book are frequently failing, often disorganised and under-equipped, often of dubious military value - and almost always brave, dedicated and impressive. The mistakes and blunders as new ways of fighting were learnt do not take away from the incredible feats of endurance and bravery that so many so frequently demonstrated.

Those heroics are made all the more moving by the number of people who are introduced to the reader in some detail before dying early in their career. There is always the sense that over the turn of any page, one of the people you have just been told about may be killed. It makes the deaths more individual and more shocking, for they are the deaths of rounded personalities, not briefly mentioned names.

Commando goes through many individual operations, giving a good sense of the range of work Commandos carried out and how their training, their structure and their tactics evolved during the war. From the farcical ineptness of early raids through to the myth-making shock troops of later years, the account by James Owen keeps the story moving along briskly without glossing over wider questions such as whether or not the heavy losses by Commandos were justified by their successes.

The hardback edition of this book is very well produced, with interesting photos, a useful map, good quality paper and high-class typography. The audio book version, alas, far less so with some really bizarre pronunciations of names and places, including "Boulogne" as if it is "Bologna". Plenty of scope for confusion the reader there!
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on 19 October 2012
Commando tells the history of the Commandos, from their birth soon after Dunkirk to VE and VJ day. It includes SBS's role, their joint operations with SAS, and their merger with the Royal Marines - and covers every theatre of war, from Norway to Dieppe to the War in the Desert - even West Africa and Lebanon.

The book is broken down into chapters covering individual operations - from huge battles like D Day and Dieppe to small raids - and from well known operations like the Cockleshell Heroes and Raid on Rommel to less known ones - like pirating Italian ships in a Spanish colony. That structure is much easier to follow (the Commandos had a truly bewildering history), lets individual stories to be told, and gives a sense of the weird and wonderful range of what the Commandos got up to.

There is a good mixture of accounts of fights, the battles in London over strategy and tactics (whether the Commandos were raiders or assault troops; and rivalry over who controlled them) and fascinating detail - the use of German Jewish refugees disguised as Germans, or the history of commando training. The author is honest about failures and uncertain overall effect, while highlighting the bravery of the individual soldiers, and impact on future generations of soldiers.

It's neither ridiculously gung ho nor a dry military history - and written in a clear straightforward style - often using the words of the Commandos themselves. So highly recommended to anyone interested in WW2 - or as a present for someone else who is.
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on 12 December 2012
Well written, balanced and informative. An easy read. Flows well. Gripping in parts. Tells the story "Warts and All". Heroes and their activities are not elevated to the heights of the surreal, they are portrayed as normal people doing very abnormal acts!
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on 15 April 2015
Brilliant
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on 19 December 2012
An excellent read! Not such a different 'slant' on what went on back then as my parents told me some of the 'negative' thoughts of others as well as the mainly 'positive' thoughts of the population regarding the Commandos. The author commends the bravery of those brave, daring men - it's a darned good book.
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on 2 July 2014
A very good book, I wish that I could find more books like this one.
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on 15 January 2016
an excellent book
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on 27 August 2013
An account which reveals the horrors of war and shows that by no means all the Commandos did was successful
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on 22 September 2014
Poor and lacks the detail and clarity of "The green Beret" by Hilary St.George Saunders.
For example when Tito requested a diversionary attack due to the partisans being attacked by the Germans in May 1944 the Island of Brac was attacked by commandos' from Vis and heavy fighting occurred with a Cpl Verri winning the MM although he was wounded and captured.
There is no mention of any of this.
So for my money it was a complete waste and sheds no further light on any of the operations.
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on 7 September 2014
A great book on the history of the commandos in works war 2. Well recommended. Some bits were you just can't imagen how they pulled though.
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