Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the best Special ops book ever written, 17 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Eye of the Storm: Twenty-Five Years In Action With the SAS: 25 Years in Action with the SAS (Paperback)
This is one of the most honest and complete insider accounts of life in a spec ops unit I have ever read. While many other ex-spec ops authors (particularly from the SAS) have sensationalized accounts of their experiences to romanticize their service and heighten their heroism, Peter Ratcliffe portrays events from a strictly realistic and insightful perspective. Furthermore, Ratcliffe's memoir offers a much more complete view of the SAS than any previous account. His career spanned decades and took him through numerous campaigns of action. He experienced being a rank-and-file trooper, a patrol leader, and also a member of the 'Headshed'. Basically, Ratcliffe gives a very thorough account of how things work on all levels of the chain of command, and he is able to describe an incomparable number of combat operations from a firsthand perspective.
Ratcliffe's account of SAS action is a sobering, no-nonsense contrast to the sensationalistic portrayals offered by men like Andy McNab. He shows readers that its not all gun blazing heroism, and its never perfect. Patrols fail to reach their objectives simply because they get lost in the woods. Large numbers of men die in a helicopter crash before seeing any action. A covert beach landing is aborted because the boats don't work and men are being swept away in the ocean. Highly trained troops who've never been tested in a real war sometimes turn out to be irrational and cowardly under fire. A few commanders are so concerned about risking their lives that they abandon missions without even trying. Even deep behind enemy lines, an SAS unit is not immune to bickering and politics within the chain of command. This is the real world. The SAS is human, and is therefore prone to human faults, human error, and human fear just as ordinary people are.
But despite his sometimes blunt criticism of certain people, it is never Ratcliffe's intention to denigrate his unit. Conversely, he exemplifies the SAS's strict standards of excellence by holding his men accountable for their faults and pointing out how things can sometimes be done better. There are a few instances where Ratcliffe seems to be a little less than fair. With regards to the Bravo Two Zero mission, one does get the sense that Ratcliffe tries to alleviate the SAS leadership's responsibility for that catastrophe. Regardless, Eye of the Storm is probably still the most accurate and thorough account of SAS service ever written. Peter Ratcliffe is a man who has no need to validate himself behind false tales of heroism. He knows that he has made great accomplishments in one of the most challenging and dangerous professions in the world. He is therefore able to tell the truth, confident that his story is worth telling without any fabrications.
Eye of the Storm has done more to heighten my layman's understanding of spec ops than any other SAS book I've ever read. For those interested in military, spec ops, or the SAS in particular, this is essential reading. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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