This is a memoir that shows that even the author can find it difficult to find any redeeming features about themselves! This work by Andy McNab reveals, with brutal honesty, what an unpleasant, dishonest young person he was – the kind of youth we cross roads to avoid. More, he exhibits an egocentricity ruling his life for many years that many will find extremely unattractive. Indeed, apart from very rare hints of a better nature, it’s not until the last moments of the book that he suggests that he has changed.
All that may seem a strange way to start a review of a book many would buy because it features the SAS, but the book is autobiographical and therefore must be judged in that respect first! From a careless, thoroughly despicable thief, through a brush with the law that scared the life out of him, McNab enters the army convinced it will save him from almost inevitable imprisonment. Yet he continues to exhibit the self-centeredness that had made him totally disregard the feelings of others. He’s really only interested in McNab – and how following this course or that course can make life better for McNab. He appears to show some consideration when, eventually, he becomes a trainer of new recruits – but his motive remains his own welfare, caring only about how well the recruits turn out reflects upon him.
He shows determination, at times, to push himself to the ultimate degree, when doing so offers what he perceives to be a more relaxed existence. That’s what drives him to undergo the fearsomely tough selection process to join the SAS. He knows enough to not attempt to be a “stand out” type – just an average type able to fit in without ever rocking the boat. That said, he minimises the effort he expends, in all things – always trying to arrange matters so that somebody else has to do the work, like cooking meals or brewing tea. There are also times when he demonstrates far too much faith in himself, without justification.
Yes, there are some interesting insights into the SAS, but, to be honest, I was left with a lower opinion of McNab than I possessed before reading this book. If I could, I would lift out the SAS procedural parts and dump the rest, which is just an unpleasant read.