Ben Macintyre is a great story-teller. But to see him at his best, he needs a great story to start with. Having watched the recent BBC series based on this book, I was keen to read the original, which obviously provides much more information than could be crammed into a few hours of gripping television. But here’s the problem: the BBC drama ends with the SAS’s formative period in the North African desert doing battle with Rommel’s Afrika Korps. The book goes on for some time after that, detailing the SAS’s later wartime exploits in Italy, France and Germany. And, as the author admits, they were often not always able to do what they did best in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. Indeed, by the end of the war, they were as likely to be ambushed by the enemy as be the ones doing the ambushing. There are some good scenes in the second half of the book, but the source material is clearly not as interesting as that provided for North Africa. Still, you won’t go wrong with Macintyre’s book — recommended.