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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 December 2010
I received this book on Friday lunch time and finished early Saturday. A reason for buying was seeing Duncan's picture and remembering him from my time in the Marines, I served 77 to 84.

This is one of the best factual accounts of SF work I have ever read and due to my own life and knowledge of those who contributed to the book, know it is at no point a work of fiction. The accounts are accurate and not just told by Duncan as many other former members of the SBS helped, as he states in the book. This has to be one of the best books written by a SF operative.

The reviews are mainly positive with a couple who question the author, to that end they are wrong as the events are true and factual and in many cases are told in a way that must have been close to the mark as far as the MOD were concerned. One critique questioned some of the diving detail to which I would say you are a fool to compare sports diving to anything to do with the diving SB undertake and in the 70's and 80's the trials were still very experimental and watching Seal teams when they came to Poole was nothing more than farcical when confronted by the dark water dives and equipment.

Some of the accounts have brought a tear as some of the people described were people I knew and respected very highly.

Do pictures make a book? NO not in this case as they would just be the same as any you find on the Internet due to the OSA and in many cases would not tie in with the book. Should he have used dates? again NO as anyone worth his salt can work out from the events rough dates after all the Falkland took place over a few months in 1982 so come on people use your brains.

SBS were quite often moved back to Commando units especially NCO's who could prove invaluable in operations within units by introducing their knowledge and professionalism as well as inspiration to others. Yes Duncan was part of the test to take recruits straight through to SBS and he must be glad of that opportunity and to have gone all the way. The training in SBS is demanding physically but more mentally as they must be able to work even when their body has almost given up and having seen the training first hand can only appreciate anyone who succeeds.

The rivalry between SBS and SAS is understandable, but in the 70's and 80's the SAS had more former Royal Marines than Army and by former I mean the only way to join SAS was to leave the Royal Marines due to the Navy tie. Rivalry is always going to be part of Forces life.

If you want a good read that is true to fact, just with the compromise of exactly how to taken away, then this book has to be one you don't miss and if you served as an RM then this will make sense and open your eyes to the work of the sneeky beeky branch. A really good read that pulls no punches and shows that people can sometimes do the unthinkable and the remarkable.
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on 27 January 2003
Great book, much better than I expected. Some reviewers say they are annoyed with the author's coldness, brevity and lack of detail of certain events but I think that's due in part to the need for confidentiality of those events. I was not bothered by it and did not feel like it detracted from the book. I thought it had a plethora of information and events were explained very thoroughly. If it was too DETAILED or too GENERAL then I would question it's authenticity. I like the anonymity of the SBS, as the author says, it makes their job easier. This is the book to read if you want to read about the SBS or even the SAS. I'm burned-out on all the SAS/SEAL hoopla and wanted something a little different. The SBS are not as well known in Britain as the SAS and even less so here in the US, I only found this book when I was unknowingly transferred to Great book.
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on 12 December 1999
"First into Action" is an excellent book written by a former member of the RM SBS. It is an eye openning description of the Special Forces world, and an excellent counter-balance to the barrage of literature relating to the SBS's land loving cousins in Hereford. However, the author does not mention the SBS's role in the Balkans which is unfortunate, and he does not give an upclose comparison to the SEALs like he does with the SAS. On the other hand, his description of selection into the SBS is a real eye-opener, and hopefully others will follow his example in the fight against the SAS dominated Directorate of SF in the areas of memoir publishing and the ability of former members of SF to pursue their own futures outside of the SF world as they see fit. An outstanding read that I recommend to anyone interested in the spooky world of Special Forces.
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on 9 September 2015
Falconer gives a good insight into the type of activities the SBS are involved in, with some details of diving techniques and submarine involved training. It follows his early life and training for the marines, though not to much information on the commando course. Then straight into the SBS. This covers the mid 70s and 80s. The most interesting part of the book covers his time in 14th Intelligent Detachment, the selection process and the undercover work in N. Ireland. Though Falconer was not involved in the Falklands or the Gulf wars he recounts some tales of these conflicts. There are no first hand accounts if combat. Oh and he does have a few moans regarding the SAS.
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on 5 November 1999
At a time when bookshelves are heaving under the weight of military experiences I was glad to stumble upon this offering from ex-Royal Marine and SBS man Duncan Falconer. This account of his life from raw recruit in the Royal Marines to hardened SBS operative, with the surprise of a period in 14 Int in Ulster thrown in, is a gripping read. He portrays the men of the special forces as individuals subject to the same cock-ups and tragedies as us all. On the other hand, the incredible powers of endurance and tenacity of these men is graphically described. The author writes with great credibilty and at times modesty of his own achievements. This does not detract from the excitement of the book which is as action packed as the title suggests. The best of many such books I have read this year.
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on 7 March 2014
I read a whole raft of these soldiers stories recently (Ed Macy - Apache, Fire Strike 7/9 - Bommer Grahame and Sniper One) all of which I really enjoyed. This book, following these, doesn’t really compare.
I feel that the author is too close to his old regiment to give out any trade secrets about the ops that he went on. It feels a bit too wishy washy really after the others I mentioned above.

Ok read, but not one I would re-read (whereas the others above will get several more in the future from me)

Hope that's a fair review to an ok book?
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on 11 February 2016
This book actually needs 10 stars as an ex submariner sitting safely inside the tube (well sometimes anyway) we always wondered what the mad buggers got up to on the outside, they were always a bit tight lipped when we picked em back up. Mind you they always had a good laff with us and a beer or two on the way back home, it reminds me of what Intel my civvy mates when they ask me what we did on submarines (we also never ever got the recognition we deserved) I just tell them "All you need to know is whatever needed doing we did it and that's one of the reasons why you don't speak Russian now" so again I will say this a 10 star read
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on 15 March 2002
If you are only going to read one special forces memoir then make it this one. Duncan has an understated writing style that is very effective. He was in the SBS for a long time and relates some gripping stories. There's a lot of variety in this book covering a wide spectrum of SF duties, from submarine exits and parachute jumps to intelligence ops in Ireland. The author does not avoid some of the mistakes made and comes across as a modest and mature individual. (Not always the case with SF books).
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on 21 January 2006
I thought the book was excellent and I do not usually read this type of material. Its a force I want to find out alot more about now and rightly or wrongly, it has lead me to view the SAS with much distrust and almost, to a point, disgust (I must point out that this is not the authors intention).
However, I write this review mainly to correct some of the information provided in the review by Rennie Petersen from Denmark. He states:
"On the back cover of the paperback edition I read it said that Mr. Falconer had a "leading role" in SBS operations in the Falklands"
This is untrue, it states: "Graphically describing the physical and mental rigour of the selection process, recounting the operations in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Gulf..."
I must recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the military. Its a very down to earth, raw, honest account of what goes on and I feel a definate must of a read over ANYTHING produced by the SAS.
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on 14 January 2005
A book about a life Less Ordinary.
A brillianly written, sometimes funny and sometimes sad story of what it takes to go through some of the toughest training possible. Life in the SBS is not as well documeted as life in the SAS which makes an account such as this so much more ineresting, they truly are an exceptional body of men who are aside from the finest training in the world are just as flawed as the rest of us. This is the story of Duncan Falconers amazing journey through that world. Brilliant I read it in one sitting. If you liked this try his fiction as well it's great if you enjoy a good thriller.
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