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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 May 2013
Told in elegant and evocative prose, dramatic yet detailed and revelatory, The Manner of Men is one of those rare books - one that actually manages to bring to life the reality of a desperate mission behind enemy lines and crucial to the success of the Second World War. This former soldier writes superbly well, and I speak as an author myself. Highly recommended. Buy it. You will not be disappointed.
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on 14 June 2013
Totally absorbing, impeccably researched, you find yourself completely immersed with the real life heroes and personalities. For me who has visited Pegasus Bridge, it was a joy and a privilege to obtain so much underlying detail of training regimes, daily lives, worries, fears and surroundings of these wonderfully brave soldiers.

It's a massively authoritative, at no point do you have anything less than complete faith in the knowledge and experience of the author, and is quite simply one of the most exciting, thoughtful, honest and readable non fiction books of World War II.

It would be impossible to be disappointed in ANY way with this book.
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on 21 November 2013
As a veteran, mentioned frequently in the book, and having helped the Author with the history of the 9th, I am impressed by the very detail of events

As a veteran of the 9th Battalion, I helped the Author with some of the unit's history and am mentioned frequently in the book. The research is outstanding on both the German side and the Allies side. I am impressed with his accounts of Steiner and his family Of Rommel's part in strengthening the Atlantic Wall. The detail about training and how the battalion was build up in preparation for D-Day. I am reliving my youth all over again and am proud to have been part of such a magnificent force We were an elite unit I think the book does keep our history alive and I recommend it to all military historians and people interested in the second World War We need more of these reminders of the 'price of freedom. Members of my family and several friends have bought and read 'All Manner of Men.' The reports back are excellent. .

; the German side of the operation, the excellent research he has carried out
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on 4 July 2013
My Uncle took part in the above landings. He was badly wounded after eight days fighting and evacuated back to UK. The book is well balanced with detail of the formation of the Airbourne Forces the training of the personel and the build up to the main event the drop. The intrigue over the change of CO's just before the battalion was due to deploy must have been disconcerting to say the least. The battle itself was clearly a harrowing experience and the author deserves high praise for drawing out the stories from the survivors after so many years.
The fact that my Uncle never spoke of his experiences to my knowledge and I only found out about how he was carried from the battlefield at his funeral is testament to the ferocity of the fighting and the effect on the participants.
The book is excellent and a fitting tribute to all who participated.
Malcolm McCartney
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on 19 June 2013
This is a 'must read' book for anyone interested in military history and, in particular, the WWII story of 9th Parachute Battalion. The book is a superbly written and authoritative account of the battalion's history, including the first comprehensive account of the unit's formation and its early days. The description of their heroic attack on the Merville Battery and valiant participation in the defence of the Normandy beach-head's vulnerable left flank during the D Day invasion is astonishingly realistic - informed, no doubt, by the author's own military experience. I have read just about all the books there are about 9 PARA and this is by far the best. It is also the first book to give deserved recognition to the important and invaluable role played by Martin Lindsay after the battalion had been formed; recognition which I believe to be long overdue.
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on 12 June 2013
The British Army's elite 9th Parachute Battalion were given one of the toughest missions assigned to the Paras for D-Day: a crucial behind-the-lines mission to destroy the virtually impregnable German gun battery at Merville. If the mission failed, the gun battery could have killed thousands of troops landing on the beaches. Colonel Stuart Tootal, the widely respected, former commander of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) in Afghanistan, tells the story superbly - using first-hand accounts of veterans with authority and compassion. Tootal has certainly done justice to the amazing courage of all the men who prepared, and took part in, this daring raid. Read it and be inspired...
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on 24 August 2014
5 stars because of the revelations made by Tootal- The CO Lt Col Otways' weaknesses-he seems to have connived at the downfall of his brilliant predecessor just days before the unit went ino action, had doubts about his post drop severely depleted forces' ability to attack the Merville battery and had to be persuaded" to push home the attack, and he seriously considered surrendering his desperately maimed survivors following it's partial success. These pitifully few-many of them wounded- went on to fight desperately to hold the left flank of the assaulting British forces-and succeeded. It must be said that Otway later led this magnificent defence and rallied breaking members of the Black Watch who had been sent to relieve them. This must rank as the greatest achievement in that most distinguished history of the Parachute Regiment.

Present day Paras will recognise a lot of the training described in the book-from the milling, the log race, the battle march, to the pre-parachute in plane procedures which are little changed.

However, the book is overwritten and repetitive in places and I found it-despite the extraordinary events and courage described-the like of which I have never read before-difficult to read at times.

Tootal is a very distinguished ex-Para who resigned his commission on a point of principle, and I sense in this book a message for the current politicians and senior army commanders- which is-disband this Regiment-which historically has provided nearly 60% of the membership of the SAS and which has consistently performed at the highest level over the years...at our peril.
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on 13 July 2013
My uncle was killed in the orchard when the American bombers unloaded their explosives. This my grandmother knew from letters exchanged with the padre. So curiosity was my reason for buying the book. This became amazement and admiration, when I read of the punishing selection and training programme and then the truly remarkable courage in completing the task set before them and then continuing to fight and hold other objectives over several bloody and exhausting days. War and the pity of war.
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on 29 July 2013
From the grand strategy of D-Day, to the detailed tactical objectives needed to make the invasion work, to the reality of life under bombardment in a foxhole, Tootal brings both his detailed research and his personal experience as a combat commander to bear on every page of this book. His achievement is in blending so many different aspects of the mission and the men into his narrative which manages to contextualise the sacrifice of 9 PARA, (2/3 of them died during the period covered by the book) within the broad sweep of strategy and yet also convey the pathos, the horror and the feeling of grit in the eyes and dust in the throat that brings the individual experience to life.

I'm a big fan of both Max Hastings' and Antony Beevor's histories of WW2 but as both of them have embraced grander and grander themes they have inevitably focused more on the big picture and less on the individual experience, except as anecdote. This book keeps the focus tightly on a single unit, and their missions and key personalities. Thanks to that it has managed to stay in touch with the battlefield, the individual soldier's experience and to produce some gripping and evocative descriptions of combat.

As a former Para commander himself the author is clearly no stranger to the maxim that "No plan survives contact with the enemy". This book illustrates brilliantly just what that means in poignant detail, without ever bashing its readers over the head with it.

In short, if you like WW2 military history, or you're buying this for someone who does, I can thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 6 December 2013
I love true stories, but have never read a war book before. I saw this being promoted on TV by a couple of the veterans who had been involved in the battle and decided to give it a try. It's a gripping tale of optimism, disaster, tremendous struggle, heroics and eventual success. It is written by a man who clearly understands the detail and technical aspects of war, but is so well written that it kept me gripped in the story whilst vividly explaining the logistics and more technical aspects. Would make a brilliant film.
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