STARRED REVIEW
October 04, 2016

The secret strike force that changed the course of war

By Ben Macintyre
n June 1941, there was no hint that a well-born, unfocused young Englishman named David Sterling would become the leader of one of the most daring units of World War II.
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In June 1941, there was no hint that a well-born, unfocused young Englishman named David Sterling would become the leader of one of the most daring units of World War II. Nicknamed “the Giant Sloth” by friends, Sterling had spent most of his posting in Cairo gambling or frequenting nightclubs. His commando military career almost ended before it had begun when he injured his spine in a parachute training run, becoming temporarily paralyzed.

But as Ben Macintyre (author of the 2014 bestseller A Spy Among Friends) reveals in his thrilling account of the SAS exploits in the desert and later in Nazi-occupied Europe, it was that accident that inspired Sterling to propose an innovative combat model that endures today in special forces units such as the Navy SEALs.

“Do you want to do something special?” Sterling would ask recruits. And the mission was indeed unique. The SAS, or Special Air Service, was originally designed to drop small groups of elite, exceptionally well-trained soldiers deep into enemy territory to inflict the maximum amount of damage on airfields and other targets. While the initial concept focused on parachute jumps, an early disastrous failure led Sterling and co-founder John “Jock” Steele Lewes to turn to jeeps for their attacks against Rommel’s desert forces. Hiding by day and attacking by night, the SAS “rogue heroes” soon became a striking force that won the admiration and respect of Winston Churchill himself.

The stalwarts of the SAS were complex, driven men, who risked, and often lost, their lives under brutal and dangerous conditions. Macintyre, who had unprecedented access to SAS archives, is a compelling storyteller who honors their legacy in this thrilling, well-researched narrative.

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Get the Book

Rogue Heroes

Rogue Heroes

By Ben Macintyre
Crown
ISBN 9781101904169

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