Sir Ranulph Fiennes is rightly celebrated across the globe for his many extraordinary achievements in polar exploration. What many do not know is prior to undertaking a career surviving whatever the elements can throw at him, his life and the drive within him to succeed, was influenced and shaped by the military.
His father was a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Scot’s Greys and killed during the Second World War leading his unit into action in Italy. The memory of his heroic dead father drove Ran’s desire to prove himself and thus led him to serve in his father’s own regiment, before migrating to the SAS, where he would serve with distinction. Over the subsequent years of adventurous exploration, risking his life on multiple occasions, Fiennes has developed a respect and admiration for all elite military units – the type of people who serve in them, the training they undertake, and the weapons they use. He has been fascinated by this area all of his life, and his new book The Elite perfectly encapsulates what he believes to be the evolution of the elite soldier over the centuries.
The Elite will have anecdotes of the connection Ran had with the memory of his war-hero father – before taking the reader through the history and evolution of how elite formations of troops have been created, why they were needed, and how the concept has evolved in terms of personnel selected, weapons used, and tactic implemented. As warfare has changed over the centuries, so has the need for elite forces grown. The Elite will chart this for the reader, with Ran personally selecting units from across the globe that made their mark – whether they be ancient Spartans, Swiss mercenaries from the Thirty Years War, or British commandos from the Second World War – who evolved warfare to the next stage.
For anyone interested in the books of Max Hastings, Antony Beevor, orBen McIntyre – this is a definite purchase for Christmas time. Containing stunning illustrations, as well as line drawings, the chapter structure allows the reader to dip into their favourite periods of history and read a whole essay on their favourite units.
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