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Freefall Hardcover – 6 Aug 1998
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* 'This is BRAVO TWO ZERO meets ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. Tom Read's story had me on the edge of my seat. It also made me cry. (Andy McNab.)
Extraordinary (MAIL on Sunday)
An incredible story: funny, sad and as breathtaking as a high altitude sky dive (CAMERON SPENCE author of SABRE SQUADRON.)
A courageous book. (THE TIMES)
Unique and inspiring memoir that unravels how the author descended into madness after attempting the world freefall record.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
This is an astonishing book. Perhaps most importantly-sorry if this seems faecetious-it is very very funny in places-far more so than the plethora of SAS veterans books published in recent years-and had me laughing out loud. This man was clearly extremely intelligent, extremely tough and very very popular with his peers-and women.
Many episodes chimed for me....his description of the log race-easily the most difficult challenge I have ever done...., landing in a tree and discovering that a plane load of TA Paras were landing-and drowning-in the Kiel Canal....his friendship with Al Slater-of BBC "Paras" fame-killed in action by the IRA and the cause of much agonising by the author who was there.....mentions also of Frank Collins-another suicide victim and Andy McNab-interestingly, "Tom" was unhappy with the way SAS books had been deliberately exaggerated-"I know-I was on some of the operations" and how some soldiers claimed to be on ops when they were not...
John Geddes-who wrote a brilliant account of Goose Green, but declines to write about his SAS career, is also mentioned.
Following his own lights he has written a brilliant description of an exemplary military career with innovative parachuting/freefalling at the forefront, but, more importantly, a description of the development of a life threatening psychosis-threatening to him (and it eventually killed him-but I think he died in a way which was fulfilling for him-literally freefalling to his death) and a former girlfriend-which should be compulsory reading for all medical students and psychiatry trainees...
This is not another "ex-SAS" novel, with more emphasis being placed on Tom's progress through mental illness and flashbacks to his career after joining the army. For anyone that has read Chris Ryan or Andy McNab's books there are interesting references to certain controversial members of the Bravo-two-zero squad - something that has also become a little more prominent in the media recently.
And yet, amidst the deluge of special forces' books, I put the book aside, unable to face another round of SAS heroics.
It wasn't until I read about Tom's death earlier this year that my interest was reawakened. And as soon as I started reading 'Freefall' I was utterly absorbed by Tom's narration. It was a book that I carried everywhere for the week, reading snippets whenever I could, or seeking out opportunities to lie back and read for longer periods.
I have to say that my admiration for Tom grew and grew as his mental and physical toughness became more and more evident. From the proving grounds of Para selection and the individual torment of SAS selection, to the gut-wrenching fear of covert operations, Tom demonstrated a remarkable, and indeed a formidable, ability to fight for success whatever the cost.
And at the same time here was an intelligent man whose sense of reason and humanity were quietly being eroded, crippling his judgement and mental prowess. Until finally the erosion was complete.
I was moved to tears reading this book. His apparent recovery at the end of the book is cast into the most tragic of all lights given his ulitmate farewell to the world.
What a courageous, cast-iron spirit. What honesty. What an extraordinary man. Thank you Tom for showing us, for proving to us, that it is not weak to be honest.
Churchill once spoke about the ultimate sacrifice being made.Charlie Bruce made it.
Keep the ripcord in your mouth Nish,the next drink will be on me.
I was proud to personally know this man and the book is a must read choice.