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4.2 out of 5 stars82
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 31 October 2012
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.
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on 4 October 2006
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.
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on 3 June 2006
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.
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on 9 January 2015
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.
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on 8 November 2013
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!
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on 24 May 2011
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
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on 13 July 2010
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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on 15 August 2011
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
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on 4 June 2006
This book was recommended to me by a pal who served in the authors regiment(Royal Green Jackets) many years ago, and i have to say i can now see why! The book is a brutally honest and at times extremely disturbing portrait of life in the lower ranks of the infantry.

If your looking for a tale of heroic leadership under enemy fire then i am afraid 'Squaddie' is not the book for you, and you will be very dissapointed. But if you want to know how it really is - both the good bits and the bad - then give it a whirl. Mclaughlin's book should be made compulsary reading for the following people:

Schoolboy dropouts searching for an identity and trying to escape from an abusive steparent - as Mclaughlin clearly was.

Privately educated and privaleged Sandhurst cadets who want to understand and motivate their men - take note Prince Harry!

Concerned parents worried about teenage boys being taken in by recruitment sgt's tales of skiing and surfing - only to end up in Iraq.

And anybody else with merely a passing interest in the army. The book would make a good film and i look forward to maybe seeing that come about. One thing is for certian, the working-class British Squaddies now have a voice, and about time too.
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on 8 May 2014
I read this after finishing the authors previous book on his time on the doors and living in Blackpool.

Well written, self effacing and reflective writing style has made both books excellent. I've now read both in two evenings.

Well done Mr McLaughlin.

Best wishes for the future and your travels. I imagine yours will be a life well lived .
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