Squaddie: A Soldiers Story by Steven McLaughlin

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by High_Voltage, Jul 1, 2006.

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  1. Steven McLaughlin served in the British army for three years.

    Can't have much to write about then.... :D
  2. A very good read,joined RGJs at 30yrs old.Book is about his training and subsequent tour on Telic 2 followed by a stint in Crossmaglen.Tells it as it is/was for a Greenjacket at junior level on OPs-stagging on,fatigues and getting p*ssed about.
    My hat off to him for joining up at 30 and being the oldest man to complete the CIC,says it all for me.
  3. Hmmm, Just might have too buy It for myself.
  4. Although it may be a good read and true to life, I am a little worried at a number of factors, first off is motivation, he joined VERY late becuase of his brother, why not earlier ? As he was older his perspective must of been greatly different, I was 18 in basic nad he had a couple of 25 yr olds, one was spot on but the other whinged constantly. And my last issue is Crossmaglen, He went AFTER Telic 2 ? Not exactly a hive of terrorist activity really

    OK I'm being cynical, I just struggle to warrant the comments of a short tourer with an agenda thats al
  5. Get it from your local library and have a drink with the money you would have spent.
  6. chrisg46

    chrisg46 LE Book Reviewer

    I think these days tyo write a military book you need to have an "angle" to base it on. A book of a 17 year old squaddie who joins up in the infantry and serves 8 years while not actually achieving much does not sell books....or not many anyway. Instead you have this one (oldest recruit at CIC etc) that one about TA in telic 1, or the various SF books...
  7. Just finished reading this - not a bad book, all in all, and certainly better written than the McNab/Ryan types (i.e. the language flows, fits together properly, etc).

    Others pointed out that with three years service, how much can there be to write about? But it gives a pretty good look at the Private soldier's view of Iraq and service in the current NI situation.

    My only real complaints:
    - lots of harping on about how complex, fiddly, etc the SA80 is and how the M16 is better.
    - the issue of his motivation as mentioned in other posts.
    - some slight inaccuracies that you'd expect anyone with any length of service to understand - perhaps an overzealous editor.

    Other than that, worth a read! Definitely a different angle (the age thing) than most recent books, where the author simply tries to prove he's the next McNab :)
  8. It has got good reviews in Amazon - maybe I will give it a look-see.

    No, feck it - I will buy a copy. After all - if a squaddie has given the time to write a book then I will support it. Its nice to see a book about real soldiering and not the super hero SF books that quite frankly need to be read with a pinch of salt!
  9. He joined after 2000? The training is hardly harsh in basic these days.
  10. Sounds to me, like he joined with an aim of only doing just enough to get through, make some notes, get out and write a book. :x
  11. Thermal Warrior - instead of slagging off someone who has made the effort why not write a book yourself?
  12. To be fair, he comments that the training does seem softer than he'd expect, especially when he joins an All-Arms platoon at the ATR.

    Couldn't say whether this difference is an actual fact or not though - to my mind, a standard is a standard!
  13. In fairness, he DID join at an earlier age (RM), but was kicked out on medical grounds: had laser surgery for eyesight problems (which had already led to rejection by the Army) and concealed the fact when he enlisted - busked it with an elderly medic who wasn't au fait with the latest techniques in opthalmology, but was caught out a month into training during a routine check by a younger doctor who recognised the laser scars for what they were.

    Little bro's untimely death propelled him into having another go, but he says that he'd always wanted to soldier, and I think it very creditable that he went ahead despite advancing years. Think he only did 3 years because once in he realised that his age was going to be a major problem in terms of career progression, plus - as he openly admits - the life of an infantryman is "a young man's game". Even if he did only do it to furnish material for a book (IMO a bit far fetched; taking "method" research to the extreme! 3 years is still a long time out of your life.), at least he bothered to find out the hard way before so doing.

    The book is clearly written, and he is very precise in making the distinction between fact and his opinion - again, IMO, very creditable. His maturity/ general life experience also provides him with a more balanced/ broader perspective than is often the case in such books. Also, as others have noted, it's refreshing to read the infanteer's perspective; so many of the SF type memoirs tend to write off the "ordinary Army" as somehow second best - there are exceptions, eg Pete Scholey, but they're relatively rare. In reality, without good line infantry (plus all the rest, esp support arms!) you have no army worth mentioning, whilst it is quite possible to have an excellent army without any "special forces" per se.

    I think this a very sound book - certainly worth reading.
  14. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Have just read and would recommend it to anyone as an engaging read, but especially to Seniors in the Army as the author articulates with clarity and logic, the frustrations that many junior ranks feel.

    This is well depicted when he describes a conversation he has with his OC in Iraq upon receiving a sentance for getting in a scrap with another soldier. The author tells the OC why he did what he did and lays bare a few home truths about how the army real works, for the officer:
    All in all it's refreshing to read an account of soldiering that most of us recognise and can relate to.