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Saturday 10 December 2022

Catching Up On My Reading 15 - SAS Rogue Heroes,

 Now I have had this book since it came out in 2016 - my wife bought it for me back then and yes I have read it . So this is really a re-reading. I did this because I wanted to compare it with the TV Drama of the same name and vaguely the same subject. For the record I find the drama entertaining, but also quite irritating, historically speaking, the way it fudges and distorts and misinforms for dramatic effect but then as it is a drama with a different target why would I expect anything else?.

 Dramas often have to be simple- like the target audience! After all the punters need to know what they are buying. But sometimes the dumbing down and fictionalising  goes to far in order to fit the formula that the punters will buy into. This is especially true of the TV drama very very loosely based on MacIntyre's rather good book. Take the 'Benghazi raid' of episode 5 of the drama Yes Randolf Churchill was there  No there was no firefight. No they did not dress up in German Uniform . The true version is in the book and frankly is a better story than the violent crap on the screen but the TV director seems to want to cater to an audience that have the attention span of a backward haddock and need to be 'stimulated' by loud noises and bright lights every minute or so .

The book of course is far better than that in the same way a painting in the gallery is better than a postcard of it in the gif shop.

The evolution of the SAS is explained in some detail  with the development from L Detachment to two  British regiments two French and a Belgian . outlined and with no small amount of courage and sheer lunacy and horror - but without the gloating tone of the TV images. Yes some of the incidents of the SAS's desert war are 'reported' with some truth  in the drama but many even if mentioned were telescoped and trivialised . However the book has a seriousness which the drama conspicuously lacked. To portray the early SAS simply  as a bunch of irresponsible pirates is to give them less than their due.

 Mackintyre DOES NOT do this in his excellent book so bin the TV series and read the words- even if you have to use your fingers for the longer ones ! 


  1. It is always thus with any film or TV version of a book or even history. It never ceases to amaze me how every story has to be bent into the same story arc with the same set of 'good' and 'bad' characters. While I understand some changes do make a better screen presentation I can't comprehend why the audience are supposed to always want the same story just set in different periods and locations, and costumes... although the latter are usually changed to look 'cool' for contemporary taste.

    1. Exactly the intellectual bar is lowered ever downward for the mob and the bankers 'more of the same only different' so we can sell it.. Think back to such series as Bronowski's The Ascent of Man or Clarkes Civilisation or Sagan's Cosmos - they were documentary series which were long and sometimes complex. You could not make such now neither the TV companies or the viewers would stand such detail so why should we expect Dramas - with a greater audience share but a lower 'IQ hook' to maintain any other standard than glossy surface production at the expense of actual content.