Book Review: First Man In: Leading From The Front by Ant Middleton

What’s it about?

Special forces training is no walk in the park. The rules are strict and they make sure you learn the hard way, pushing you beyond the limits of what is physically possible. There is no mercy. Even when you are bleeding and broken, to admit defeat is failure.

To survive the gruelling selection process to become a member of the elite you need toughness, aggression, meticulous attention to detail and unrelenting self-discipline, all traits that make for the best leaders.

After 13 years service in the military, with 4 years as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton is the epitome of what it takes to excel. He served in the SBS, the naval wing of the special forces, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal, achieving what is known as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the UK’s Elite Forces. As a point man in the SBS, Ant was always the first man through the door, the first man into the dark, and the first man in harm’s way.

In this fascinating, exhilarating and revealing book, Ant speaks about the highs and gut-wrenching lows of his life – from the thrill of passing Special Forces Selection to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison on leaving the military – and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives.

My thoughts

I first came across Ant Middleton and this book via Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast last year.  At the time, even though not a book I would normally choose for myself, I thought it sounded a very interesting read.

My Dad was in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines so as a forces child we moved around, he’d often go away ‘on exercise’ so therein lay my interest.  I was therefore really chuffed when one of the members of my book swap Meetup brought the book along to our coffee morning and I grabbed my chance.

I didn’t know anything about Ant Middleton and had never watched any of his TV shows but come on, he’s easy on the eye and has all the charm!  The book’s an easy read and I raced through it in a couple of days.  It’s a fascinating insight into Army and Special Forces training and what you need, physically and mentally, to succeed in this type of career.  I’d only got a couple of chapters in when I started watching the first series of SAS: Who Dares Wins which I binge-watched in a couple of days.  What I got from the show was that the book is totally Ant – you can absolutely hear his voice when reading as it’s very much written as he talks; even if that, on occasion, is proper cheesy!  I’m not really into motivational books, I find them a bit eye-rolling which I did here too 🙂

That said, there are parts of this book that come across as pure arrogant and preachy and I was like who the hell is this guy; particularly the time he spent in prison.  I suppose there’s no way he couldn’t have included this in the book as it did have a huge impact on his life but come on…trying to spin it a positive thing, like something we should all experience…no way!  This about hits the nail on the head >>

“People might think I’m an arrogant twat, but that doesn’t bother me because I’ve looked in the mirror and I know that I’m not.”

So, as you can imagine I did find myself swinging between he’s an absolute knobhead to he’s okay actually!

A good read if you like the show, have an interest in the Special Forces or know someone who’s served or who currently is!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: Borrowed
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Collins

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