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To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations, from Achilles to Al Qaeda

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  69 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The Fifty-Year Wound is the first cohesively integrated history of the Cold War, one replete with important lessons for today. Drawing upon literature, strategy, biography, and economics -- plus an inside perspective from the intelligence community -- Derek Leebaert explores what Americans sacrificed at the same time that they achieved the longest great-power peace since R ...more
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Published May 30th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published March 2006)
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The book had many interesting facts and I personally enjoyed the earlier chapters. Eventually, the structure of the book became too predictable for me and at moments it felt more like a history class than an argument for the benefits of special ops. If you're planning on reading this for general knowledge, pick the time period you are most interested in, and read those parts instead. It will definitely enrich your facts and makes you see events in a different light.
The author, a former Marine, a government consultant, and a professor at Georgetown, offers a dramatic thesis: that "special operations” – daring, small, commando missions led by people who think outside the box and not the massive thrusts of conventional armies – have repeatedly changed the course of human events. To prove this, Leebaert takes the reader on a fascinating tour of Western military history, from the siege of Troy through the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He not only chronicles military h ...more
This book has its ups and downs. My biggest problem with it is the author's use of the term special operations is too broad. Sometimes he called operations special when I think the term espionage would suffice. Nonetheless, this book is impressive in the way it covers so much ground, so many interesting turning points in history. My favorite chapter is the one on the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire -- not that it was the result of what we would call a special operation, but there are parall ...more
AVOID "To Dare and To Conquer" by Derek Leebaert. The book was billed as a history of special forces/special operations going back to the Trojan Horse.

Reading a book should be like having a conversation with the author over a pint of brew at your local bar. You listen and learn. But Leebaert is too eager to impress you with what he knows, even to the point of not letting you in on it because he assumes you know it already.

Example: David Stirling gets captured by the Germans and one of England'
Interesting read.
Leebaert has composed an outstanding account of Special Operation Warfare. The book is a heavy read but the narrative has a beautiful language with the right amount of detail.
Mar 13, 2009 Arthur rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in military history
This is a thorough and well-written study of military special operations (i.e. commando and special forces) and the influence they have had on history.
With extensive footnotes and bibliography there is a good chance you can find something better to read on the subject.

This is a fantastic combination of history and military criticism; very academic, but endlessly fascinating.
Apr 18, 2007 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military/History buff
Awsome, great insight into special warfare from 1200 B.C. to present.
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