This Spitfire review is a little different to the others. Instead of reviewing one book I’ll be reviewing five, all of which are military themed. So this is a Spitfire Squadron review….
Despite the fact that my father used in the British Military and I loved playing games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield during my youth, it comes as no surprise to anyone when I say that I am not a violent person. I’ve had one physical fight in my life and the nearest I’ve come to enjoying violence is watching action scenes on TV.
Yet I’ve really enjoyed watching SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel Four. In case you’re unfamiliar with the program four former SAS operatives (Ant Middleton, Jason Fox, Ollie Ollerton and Colin Maclachlan) take thirty members of the British public and put them on an SAS training course. The aim of the program is to raise awareness of the SAS without giving away their secrets and to push the participants to their limits. So far there have been four series including one celebrity special and most of the cast involved have published their own autobiographies about their past. As I’ve just seen Ant Middleton live (which I’ll talk about below) and I have read all of the cast’s books I thought I’ll give them a joint review.
Ollie Ollerton – Break Point
Ollerton tells us the story of his youth from threatening his friends with a sawn off shot gun in his early teens, to his turbulent time in the SAS, to becoming a diamond smuggler once leaving the military. This book was the most enjoyable but unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons. There are so many different stories and antidotes that they can’t all possibly be true. I don’t care if you’re special forces, you can’t climb a mountain with a broken ankle, you can’t have slept with Saddam Hussein’s private prostitutes and can’t have stolen gold from underwater wreck. No-one’s life is that jammed packed.
Jason Fox – Battle Scars.
Fox’s book is perhaps the most touching. He tells us the story of how he joined the SAS, left due to depression and the tailspin his life entered when he returned to being a civilian. He is open and frank about his battle with mental illnesses even going as far as admitting that after diving in a ditch to avoid incoming fire, he wanted to be in bed with Mum having a cuddle. It is an intriguing and thought provoking look at a man’s battle with mental illness.
Ant Middleton – First Man In
Ant Middleton is the head staff member on the show. In his first book Ant discusses how he joined the military, coped with the death of his father, joined the SAS, became a sniper for the Royal Marines and later took part in SAS: Who Dares Wins. Ant also leads the reader through his second program Mutiny in which he lead a ships of volunteers on the same path as William Bligh in 1789.
Ant Middleton – The Fear Bubble
In The Fear Bubble, Middleton mostly addresses his expedition to the tip of Mount Everest and his venture down. Along this journey he teaches the reader his Fear Bubble system, a method he used in the SAS. Middleton describes the fear bubble as an invisible bubbles you place over a location where you will face fear. The method behind the system is that the participant will avoid anxieties before the event and improve their performance. Once you’ve entered your first bubble you conquer it, then move onto the next. It’s a simple but effective system that I have started using at work.
SAS Who Dares Wins
The SAS Who Dares Win book is a collection of advice and antidotes from the four staff members. It’s similar to many other self help books and it is clear from the first chapter that a ghost writer interviewed the former soldiers and wrote up their accounts. Many of the stories are repeated in their own books but it is still an enjoyable read.
Ant Middleton: Mind over Muscle
I watched Ant Middleton’s Mind over muscle tour at the London Palladium last Wednesday. The first part of the show was Ant focusing on re-telling stories of leaderships and ego from his various experiences with different clips from his TV shows to illustrate his points. The second half was about Ant’s trek up and down Mount Everest and how your mind is your most powerful weapon in anyone arsenal but also your biggest weakness. He preached about the power of a positive mindset. It wasn’t clear to me before seeing that show that as well as being a solider Ant is also a terrific showman.
Although the next season of SAS: Who Dares Wins has yet to be announced I encourage you all to watch it when it is finally broadcast.