10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the Heart
In 2010 I was privileged to meet Steven McLaughlin at an event at the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Warrington. We are both ex-soldiers, both writers and instantly formed a bond. We come from different backgrounds and are decades apart in age, I'm old enough to be his father, but our shared experiences in the Army, and our desire for a peaceful world,...
Published on 31 Oct. 2012 by AFN Clarke
32 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst soldiers account written
I find it quite hard to believe that this book was ever published. It is written by a soldier with only 3 years experience, 6 months of which was in basic training.
I have no doubt that the author was in the army but his accounts are sketchy and very very narrow minded to the other corps and regiments within the army. Example he says he went out on TELIC 2 in summer...
Published on 25 Aug. 2007 by Mr. Sp Nelson
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the Heart,
This review is from: Squaddie: A Soldier's Story (Kindle Edition)
In 2010 I was privileged to meet Steven McLaughlin at an event at the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Warrington. We are both ex-soldiers, both writers and instantly formed a bond. We come from different backgrounds and are decades apart in age, I'm old enough to be his father, but our shared experiences in the Army, and our desire for a peaceful world, have forged a deep respect and understanding. He had read my book CONTACT and gave me his book SQUADDIE to read, which has pride of place on my bookshelf. Steven is a gifted writer, whose story comes straight from his heart. At times comedic, as all soldier's story are, and at others deeply moving, SQUADDIE gives a rare insight into the mind of a young soldier fighting, not only for his country in Iraq and Northern Ireland, but also for his own identity. It is not just a 'Soldier's Story' but a personal journey and well worth reading. It is a book that deserves to be in the library of anyone interested in well written military books. Highly recommended.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read,
I bought this book after meeting Steven in person at Waterstones in Preston. I found it to be an enthralling, enticing read which details Steven's time in the Royal Green Jackets. Although having never served in the military, this gives me a detailed view of the life of the everyday infantrymen and appears to give a truthful outlook.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of age.
The book was very well written and Steven McLaughlin is a fantastic author.
I wish him all the best in the future
68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essence of being a Squaddie laid bare.,
This review is from: Squaddie: A Soldier's Story (Paperback)
Squaddie is without doubt the most original soldier's story of recent times; it is long overdue and most welcome, particularly for anyone who has ever served in the British Infantry. I myself served eight satisfying years in the QLR and left as a Platoon Sergeant, but until now I had never read a book that accurately captured the Squaddie experience - both the good, bad, and truly awful bits too!
The level of detail that McLaughlin goes into is astounding, and whether he is describing weapons systems, basic training, battalion life or operational tours - his descriptions are always bang-on, totally convincing, and unnervingly accurate. Several times reading this book I had to put it down and have a little daydream, such is the level of personal recall it stirred inside.
Those of us who have been there will know what he is talking about; being beasted around Catterick by depot-screws, trying to reassemble an SA80 in the field and losing your camstud, scraping the carbon off a Gimpy when your hands are so cold you just want to curl up and die, platoon mongs and stag bitches, etc - I swear this book took me right back in an instant.
In this day and age of overblown and exaggerated Special Forces accounts it's refreshing to see an ordinary soldier embracing his experience and celebrating the sheer bloody grind of being an Infantryman. What I particularly liked about this book is the total lack of heroics and the grim honesty with which the author appraises his own fears and weaknesses - and he confesses to many. McLaughlin is his own severest critic and openly admits his failings, going so far as to show himself in an extremely bad light at times - unlike other `heroes' we could mention.
As with himself, McLaughlin is a tough but fair judge regarding his comrades and regiment. Overall he gives a very good impression of the Royal Green Jackets and he has done them a great service with this book - certainly I would be happy for my son to join them. Yes there are a few `bad apples', but this is the Infantry for God's sake, and none of us should be surprised - that's life!
Totally believable, bang up to date, unpretentious, and a fine testament to a great regiment from one of its own - Squaddie does exactly what it says on the tin and I heartily recommend it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Account of the Modern Tom's Life,
Disclaimer: I'm currently serving as an officer in the US Army. I used to be a Private too, and I've worked extensively with the British Army (to include the author's regiment, the Green Jackets, and their sister regiment, the Rifles) in Iraq and in training in the US. I've always been impressed with the British soldier but I never knew what was going on behind the curtain of operations. Steven McLaughlin showed me what it means to be a Private in the modern British Army, and it wasn't pretty.
To readers of modern military history, "Squaddie" follows a familiar path: a brief biographical sketch tells us why the author was drawn to military service, an account of basic training serves as an intermission before we get to the main event of his experiences in combat. Books such as this usually sell because the author has taken part in a famous battle or became famous himself because of something he did, but that is not the case here. What makes this book compelling is the author does a great job of describing just how boring being a soldier can be, and that is what I think will make it interesting to a civilian audience.
Today, just as throughout history, a soldier's duty day consists of endless hours of administration, guard duty and patrolling. The reasons McLaughlin (and everyone else) signed up, such as kicking in doors, shooting bad guys and winning medals, are the exception, and he captures that well. In the whole book, there are only two incidents where he is in contact with the enemy. What makes "Squaddie" a good book, however, is that he is able to show how boring his job was without boring the reader as he does it. In spite of the lack of action, I couldn't stop reading.
What really intrigued me as a soldier, however, was the poor standards of leadership in his regiment and the effect it had on him and the other Privates at the bottom of the food chain. The casual violence that existed in his battalion, both among the soldiers themselves but worse, meted out by the Sergeants who are supposed to maintain good order and discipline, reminded more of a US prison rather than any unit I've been in. He tells of one incident where a soldier is seriously beaten by an NCO with a mop handle, for the trivial offense of taking part in some banter which the Sergeant thought crossed the line. Nothing happened to the NCO and the Private was told to drop it. McLaughlin ably demonstrates how such incidents accumulate over time and create a feeling of helplessness among the Riflemen, whose only recourse was to get out of the Army when their contracts were up.
What was truly depressing, to me at least, was the author's description of his officers' inaction to such incidents and their decision to let the NCOs get away with this behavior, i.e. that's Sergeants' business and they weren't going to get their hands dirty. Without ever criticizing the officers themselves or mentioning it directly, McLaughlin has done an excellent job of describing how the British Army is still organized along class lines, and the effect that has on its members. Those who have bought into that system, from General down to Private, will say that the Brits' effectiveness in combat proves it works. In this book, however, Steven McLaughlin has shown how the British Army succeeds in spite of itself. When de-humanizing and ultimately self-defeating behavior drives a soldier as intelligent, tough and professional as himself out of the Army, something is wrong.
This is a well-written, thought-provoking and, at times, disturbing book. I thoroughly recommend it.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Squaddie' is the British 'Jarhead' - but better!,
This review is from: Squaddie: A Soldier's Story (Paperback)
At long last a book that tells us what it is really like to be one of HM's soldier's at the sharp end! Having read well over a dozen SAS books and numerous ex-Colonels accounts i was begining to despair of ever finding a book that showed what plain, dirty old fashioned soldiering is all about - until i discovered this gem.
Squaddie is not about supermen diving through windows or marching hundreds of miles on bleeding feet, but about the very unglamourous and frequently violent existance of everyday infantry troops at home and abroad - in this case the Royal Green Jackets.
No stone is left unturned, and in great detail Mclaughlin takes us on a often hilarious journey through a tough basic training, daily barracks life and culture, and a chaotic Iraq tour, finishing with a sharp insight into the modern-day Northern Ireland operational tour.
His honesty is both painfull and apealing, such as when told he was off to Iraq, he confessess his immediate response was 'bollocks to winning medals' and how 'the s..t was pouring out of him' as departure day loomed.
Squaddie is a grimly bleak and humourous account of life at the sharp-end in the British infantry, and i can not commend it highly enough - read it and you will understand just what our soldiers have to go through on a daily basis.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Squaddie,
After being recommended Clubland UK by a friend and enjoying that, I bought Squaddie. The title, cover and blurb suggests it is a young man's story about soldiering and war. It is; but it is also a story about humanity and how, no matter how low you can get or how badly you are treated by the world, you can survive. It carries a message of optimism sadly lacking in these times and despite its awful subject - which is inevitably war - I found its ultimate message very uplifting.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the world of the Squaddie: blood, dirt & sand,
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and absolutely loved it – though not such a big fan of the harsh lifestyle it depicts. Before reading this common sense told me that the life of a modern-day soldier was a pretty tough one but what I have learnt from reading Squaddie has elevated it to a whole new level: being a 21st century infantry soldier in one of our elite regiments – the Royal Green Jackets in this case – is about as hard as it gets. McLaughlin takes us on an intense journey into a hyper-masculine culture - a ‘wolf-pack', in his own words – that revolves around physical fitness, grinding guard duties, endless ‘personal admin’ i.e. weapon cleaning and packing kit, and exercises on snow-capped freezing peaks in the Breccon Beacons digging trenches in rock-like soil. And that’s all before we get to the nitty-gritty of operational tours in such lovely places as post-war Iraq and post-ceasefire Northern Ireland, and all of the 24/7 anxiety that such deployments brings. I really enjoyed Squaddie and despite my profound relief at not being a part of the harsh, barracks-room culture that it depicts, McLaughlin’s sympathetic and honest writing style has greatly increased my respect for our soldiers and all that they endure, doing perhaps the hardest job of all.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I bouthg this for a friend who loves it,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for an ex-squaddie who rarely reads and he lvoes it. The second page he looked at had a photo and quote with his favourite quote - so meant for him!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Squaddie - A Soldiers story by a man from my Home town,
I have read many books on Military history and autobiographies of Senior officers.
I met the author at a book signing in Waterstones,Blackpool. In truth I was not looking to buy a book at that moment but on speaking with the author I found we shared a common interest.
I found the book to be a very honest and down to earth account of the life of a private soldier in todays Armed Forces, written from the soldiers eye point of view that of "Ground level".
It was a pleasure to read with the opinions and comments on the situations he found himself in showing very little of the bravado that you see in other books of this type.
If you are interested in understanding the work of a serviceman in todays British Forces you need to read this book
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the next,
Steven and I share two main things in common. A) We are both writers and B) We served in the same regiment albeit 34 years apart. I bought 'Squaddie' some two or so years ago and it sat, in my book case and then suitcases as I moved to Australia and moved around Australia. Then, a few weeks ago, I dusted it off and began reading it and was unable to put it down. I would recommend this book to squaddie and civvie alike especially if you want a snapshot of Iraq and then post-troubles Northern Ireland. It may well have been Northern Ireland after the killings, but it was still a dangerous place to be, especially for a British soldier and Steven paints a depressing picture of the tribal hatred that these people still practice. He was clearly a fine soldier and a man with whom I would have been proud to have served. He tells the squaddie's story in an absolutely believable way and totally unlike the 'Jackanories' who put out so much mass-produced rubbish these days. I commend this book to you as highly as I can. A great read.
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Squaddie: A Soldier's Story by Steven McLaughlin (Paperback - 4 May 2006)