No Picnic: 3 Commando Brigade in the South Atlantic, 1982 (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Paperback – 8 Feb 2001
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Written by one of the senior commanders of the Falklands campaign. Drawing on British and Argentinean sources. Already a classic account of the conflict, this will appeal to all those interested in the Falklands Campaign.
About the Author
Julian Thompson was born in Calcutta and joined the Royal Marines a month after his eighteenth birthday. He was commanding 3 Commando Brigade when they carried out the initial landings to repossess the Falkland Islands. He is a graduate of the British Army Staff College and of the Royal College of the Defence Studies. Now retired, Julian Thompson devotes a great deal of time to the study and writing of military history.
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It's very dry (the initial chapters consist mostly of detailed descriptions of the composition of units and divisions and so forth, whilst, later on, the great loss of life on the Galahad is mentioned only in passing) and a bit lovey as well (everybody performs with consummate professionalism whilst the soldiers sleeping in freezing driving rain are never downhearted), although Thompson does admit to making mistakes - the spartan use of the task force's light tanks, for example - and the descriptions of night patrols during the build-up to the final assaults is fascinating.
Perhaps the greatest drawback to authors writing about the Falklands War is that it was a modern oddity, a professionally conducted stand-up fight between two defined armies, away from urban areas and civilians. There was no room for innovative or flashy generalship and the British won mainly through superior training, morale and artillery support, none of which lend themselves to drama.
'No Picnic' therefore is very much a specialist's tome, the polar opposite of Ken Lukowiak's 'A Soldier's Song'. As an aside, it's never explained why the soldier on the cover is carrying what appears to be an M16; where did he get it?
For a reader who want a broader picture of the conflict, I recomand this book.