Academic journal article Military Review

SAS: Secret War in South-East Asia

Academic journal article Military Review

SAS: Secret War in South-East Asia

Article excerpt

SAS: Secret War in South-East Asia, Peter Dickens, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2003, 304 pages, $19.95.

A British Special Air Service (SAS) patrol leader once said, "When you see something in the jungle it's through your rifle-sight." Peter Dickens's SAS: Secret War in South-East Asia provides the reader with a rifle-sight view of SAS operations during the 1963-1966 Borneo Campaign, fought against Indonesian incursions and a simmering communist insurgency.

The strength of this exciting and fast-paced book lies in Dickens' ability to furnish a soldier's vista of this secret jungle war through first-hand accounts. Dickens describes the hardships, stresses, and dangers reconnaissance teams and strike patrols endured in the jungle and provides a unique glimpse into the inner spirit and workings of the SAS. The book is wisely complemented with detailed maps that allow the reader to track patrol actions as they are mentioned in the text.

A less satisfactory feature of the book is the lack of a clear, concise overview of the political context in which this campaign occurred. Although Dickens mentions Indonesia's reason for promulgating the conflict, a nonexpert in Southeast Asian history might have difficulty understanding the larger political-military environment-an aspect Dickens should include in the introduction if the book is republished. …

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