A leading U. S. military analyst offers a timely and useful survey of the history of special operations. Dunnigan (How to Make War; The Next War Zone; etc.) claims a history for commando missions going back to Neolithic hunting parties, and names the famous raid on Troy, in which Greek soldiers hid themselves inside a wooden horse, a""classic commando operation."" His relatively speedy discussion of elite forces in the centuries leading up to the Second World War is somewhat uneven, as he tends to claim every small, highly-skilled category of soldiers (such as the English longbowmen and the German Stosstruppen--storm troops--of WWI) as part of the Spec Ops lineage. When he gets to the WWII (""a Golden Age for commandos"") and after, however, he provides a valuable roster of major special operations forces (including Soviet Spetsnaz and British SAS). Joining this are fine and comprehensible narratives of their roles in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Falklands, the first Gulf War and most recently the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Throughout the book, he also weaves in analysis of the influence of early elite forces on the development of their more numerous contemporaries. This is perhaps not an indispensable history, but it is certainly a valuable one.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2003 Release date: 06/01/2003 Genre: Nonfiction