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Ghost Force: The Secret History of the SAS Hardcover – 19 Oct 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st Edition edition (19 Oct. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297840800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297840800
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 3.7 x 25.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 619,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

An insider's history of the SAS and a sensational examination of Britain's true role in international politics over the last fifty years. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ken Connor was a serving soldier in the SAS for 23 years and the key figure in the creation of the anti terrorist unit responsible for storming the Iranian embassy. He is currently a much sought after television and radio commentator on the Afghan crisis. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm not a fan of the Andy McNab type of gee-whiz, aren't-the-SAS-cool book, preferring solid scholarship and proper research, and I only bought this because I was doing research on special forces units for something I was writing and this looked a bit more sober than the usual type of thing.

There's a quote on the back from the SAS journal 'Mars and Minerva' saying 'This book should not have been published', although that doesn't necessarily mean that Connor is really saying things that the regiment would prefer him not to say; it could mean that the book is just wildly inaccurate. It has to be said, though, that Connor's understanding of the history and politics of the conflicts that the SAS has been involved in is a lot deeper and more sympathetic than you get from most books written by soldiers. Presumably a lifetime spent fighting some of the British government's dirtiest wars has given him an acute bull***t detector. The details of SAS selection and training are very interesting, the accounts of the battles are vivid and visceral and what comes across most is the author's respect for his comrades and his deep scepticism about the myth of the SAS as a super-cool, ultra-efficient fighting force; it's so deep that he ends the book with the suggestion that the SAS has simply become too famous to be any use anymore, and that it ought to be either scrapped completely or kept on as a tourist attraction while a new, more secret, 'ghost force' is formed that can retain the unit's old qualities of obscurity and deniability.

Not a book if you just want gung-ho war stories about the SAS, this is a thoughtful and critical history of how the regiment has been deployed over the years and an essay on what its future role might be. Important for anyone interested in contemporary military history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ken Connor's Ghost Force - The Secret History of the SAS, is an authoritative account of 22 Regiment's greatest hits: Malaya, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, Iranian Embassy, Falklands, Desert Storm et al. While much of this will be familiar terrain for many readers, there are two reasons why this book stands above a great many others in the genre: the first is that the author served in the Special Air Service for twenty three years; the second is that Connor attempts to place the SAS's actions within a historical and / or political context.

The first reason is self-explanatory. Regarding the second reason, Connor gives us a very condensed history of, for example, British involvement in the Middle East. Inevitably, his interpretation of the facts will not be to everybody's taste but he is at least refreshingly free of both "Andy McNab" style anti-Arab racism and right-wing warmongering.

Ken Connor rightly praises the Regiment, particularly for many of its "hearts and minds" operations but just as importantly, he criticises the organisation and calls for its reformation. Connor gives us many reasons why the SAS succeeded so brilliantly on missions that were considered impossible (including many vivid first hand accounts) but also he is quite damning about the bloated, traditional army structure has contributed to its modern failures, particularly the first Gulf War.

Ghost Force is recommended for those who want a more perceptive and detailed history of the SAS, rather than a book full of gung-ho action and military posturing. While Ken Connor's grasp of political history will not satisfy all readers, his expertise and experience lend great weight to the authority of this well-written book.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a must for anyone with any interest in Special Forces and Operations. I think it would also be invaluable to anyone who thinks the CIA as the lone evil entity in the world.
The text covers all major and unknown conflicts the SAS have been involved in since their re-formation following WW2. From the deserts of the Oman, the jungles of the Malayan Emergency, the colds of the Falklands, all the way back to the desert, this time in Iraq. What I personally like about the book, is that the text in the chapters reads as a fact based text book. Preceeding each chapter is preceeded by a short personal tale of the conflict at hand, but it is by far the best written SpecForces book out there, as the other ex-SAS etc soldiers tend to write in a less than exemplurary manner.
The final chapter in the book covers what the future might hold for the SAS, amid a world of air superiority and digital battlefields. His statements on the topic are sweeping and brink on controversy. He may seem out-spoken, but he has a good point. It is however worth bearing in mind that the book was written pre 9/11, so there is no coverage or opinion on the "War On Terrorism". I think this completely changes the complexion of the final pages of this book, as the world we live in now, is already completely different to the one we knew in 2000.
If you had any pre-conceptions that the British Government is or has ever been a 'clean' institution, prepare your view to be smashed. Told with unflinching honesty and attention to detail, Ken Connor dispels all the thoughts we might have had, Proving to us all, that there's life in the old British dog yet.
A cracking read.
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