IMMEDIATE ACTION - Andy McNab
Published after Bravo Two Zero, in IMMEDIATE ACTION McNab takes us back to his early life. He starts, albeit briefly, with being raised by his adoptive parents after being found as a baby on the steps of Guy's Hospital.
In McNab's very matter of fact style he relates how, as a juvenile delinquent, he decided he had a choice between jail and a nothing much of a life, and the Army. After fighting against the IRA in South Armagh McNab decides that the SAS is where he wants to be and he goes in for "Selection" as the process is known. Selection is a gruelling physical and mental test to join the SAS - you get two chances and if you fail both of those, then that's it. McNab fails the first but gets in on the second attempt. He then goes onto a number of different types of covert operations, until the book finishes, just before The Gulf War, which was covered in BRAVO TWO ZERO.
McNab is writing about a different world from the one that most of us will ever occupy. The nature of the covert operations, the sorts of training and the mindset that members of The Regiment go through their lives with is totally alien to the suburban, family orientated lifestyle that he also tries (and mostly fails) to maintain through a series of very short, sharp marriages and relationships.
As with BRAVO TWO ZERO, IMMEDIATE ACTION is written in a very matter-of-fact style. Whilst there is quite a bit of technical information that is discussed the writing doesn't drag and remains engaging.
It's brutal, but slightly less so than BRAVO TWO ZERO. It's actually quite funny in some places. Ultimately a look at why or how and what sort of person ends up in the SAS. If you like rollicking adventure style books, then the fact that this is true is just one more twist.
Immediate Action is a no-holds-barred account of an extraordinary life, from the day Andy McNab was found in a carrier bag on the steps of Guy's Hospital to the day he went to fight in the Gulf War.
As a delinquent youth he kicked against society. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS Regiment he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years - on five continents.
Recounting with grim humour and in riveting, often horrifying, detail his activities in the world's most highly trained and efficient Special Forces unit, McNab sweeps us into a world of surveillance and intelligence-gathering, counter-terrorism and hostage rescue.There are casualties: the best men are so often the first to be killed, because they are in front.
By turns chilling, astonishing, violent, funny and moving, this blistering first-hand account of life at the forward edge of battle confirms Andy McNab's standing in the front rank of writers on modern war.