“‘Jock” Lewes was almost too good to be true. ‘Be something great,’ his father had told him, his father had every intention to fulfill that injunction. He was athletic, rich, patriotic and handsome with glinting blue eyes and an immaculately tended Douglas Fairbanks Jr. mustache. He appeared in society magazines, and was courting a wellborn and sensible woman named Miriam Barford, whom he lectured on the importance of sacrifice and hard work. ‘We acquire more merit on this earth in doing gladly those tasks set us which are least attractive than by any amount of enjoyable labor,’ he wrote.”
In the beginning of Rogue Heroes: The Beginning of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit that Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War, Macintyre has a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction. The work details the lives and work of a group of British soldiers whose very efforts changed the face of World War II and the way that military forces think about what is possible with regards to wartime strategy.
The stories of these young men as they are transformed into an elite group of soldiers – an early version of what we would think of as a top-notch special forces team – are simply astonishing. Working to try to stop the Nazi war effort in both Africa and Europe, these soldiers took risks previously unknown in global combat.
While I am not a World War II buff, I was drawn into the stories and fascinated by the way that the stories unfolded. Told with evidence from various primary sources, this story reads like a novel – some of the events are simply unbelievable. This book is inspiring and comforting, simultaneously encouraging me to take more risks for what I believe in and reassuring that such a remarkable group of men will not be lost and forgotten by history.
Overall, this is a terrific book that is fascinating and worth diving into – especially as the efforts of veterans are commemorated with the anniversary of D-Day in December.