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Publisher's Summary

The outspoken autobiography of one of Britain's best known, and respected, Generals. With a foreword by Sir Max Hastings.

General Sir David Richards is one of the best known British generals of modern times. In 2013 he retired after over 40 years of service in the British Army and a career that had seen him rise from junior officer with 20 Commando to Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of the British Armed Forces.

He served in the Far East, Germany, Northern Ireland, and East Timor. He was the last Governor of Berlin's Spandau Prison, when Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, was its sole prisoner. In 2005 he was appointed Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Afghanistan and as commander of NATO forces became the first British General to command US Forces in combat since the Second World War. In 2000, Richards won acclaim when he brought together a collation of forces in Sierra Leone to stop the ultra-violent Revolutionary United Front from attacking the capital, Freetown. In so doing he ended one of the bloodiest civil wars to bedevil the region. He did so without the official sanction of London, and failure could have cost him his career. As Chief of the Defence Staff he advised the government during the crises and interventions in Libya and Syria and oversaw the controversial Strategic Defence and Security Review. Taking Command is Richards' characteristically outspoken account of a career that took him into the highest echelons of military command and politics.

Written with candour, and often humour, his story reflects the changing reality of life for the modern soldier over the last 40 years and offers unprecedented insight into the readiness of our military to tackle the threats and challenges we face today.

©2014 General Sir David Richards (P)2014 Headline Digital

Critic Reviews

"He has seen just about every combat zone since Sandhurst. One is in the hands of a consummate soldier" Frederick Forsyth
"This is a most engaging account, both characteristically direct and controversial, of a life of soldiering from the post-imperial era, through the Cold War, Iraq and Afghanistan right up to the age of Jihadists and cyber-warfare" Antony Beevor
"A brilliant memoir by the UK's most significant soldier-scholar-statesman of the new century; a compelling, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read by one who played a key role in virtually every military endeavor of the past decade'" General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, retired)

What listeners say about Taking Command

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  • A Cook
  • 09-13-17

A fascinating insight

As my boss at JRRF this was a fascinating insight into the man I followed and was lead by. Like David, the JRRF was my most rewarding and enjoyable (J2) post across my more modest 23 year career and this was because of his insight and leadership in a new and challenging role for joint operations. This excellent book cemented my respect and admiration for a great General.

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  • James Sanderson
  • 07-20-22

Great insight into military strategy at the highest level

A well written and excellently narrated story of a modern General’s career, from joining-up to the very top of the Armed Forces. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys contemporary military history.

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  • Richard Acton
  • 09-30-21

Inspiring

An inspirational leader, who’s work has changed lives and thinking in all corners of the world. Influencing great leaders of our generation, through honestly and integrity. ‘Truth under power’.
A real insight into the decisions and thought processes into some key moments in modern history. A great read on politics and the armed forces.

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  • Hotfooter
  • 04-05-21

Memoir

Like all UK generals who have written autobiography, Richards comes across as likeable and empathetic. Like all of them has self confidence and leadership qualities. But the first half of the book is more interesting; the latter half especially the Afghanistan diaries are a bit of a plod through events and his squabbles with government figures and colleagues, less attention grabbing.

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  • mark williams
  • 03-17-21

A good insight of the rise to senior command

I had a personal interest in this book as I was present on some of the military operations so my review may be biased.
Sir David’s career is well illustrated in this book and I imagine it is quite typical of the rise to senior command in the British military.
Maybe because of my basic knowledge of much that was described then I listened to this book in almost one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • mr stephen s handy
  • 06-02-20

Hard to get into the book.

liked it but struggled to finish the book.
The narrator seemed to have little.knowledge of what he was reading at times, but was probably just reading text.

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  • Alistair S Reid
  • 04-24-20

Good history of varied career

Worth a listen for anyone interested in recent British Military History and the role of senior military officers.

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  • O tempora o mores
  • 01-17-20

Autohagiography but engaging nonetheless

One would struggle to find much in the way of self-deprecation in this autobiography. It is replete with phrases such as (as best as I can recollect): “I realised - I’m much better at this than I thought”, “I had the reputation of somebody who would speak truth to power”, “I received an excellent grade in my confidential report”, “I went to the gym and had an excellent workout” and “I don’t begrudge Tony Blair taking some of the limelight over my decision to liberate Sierra Leone from the RUF” etc etc. Indeed, I cannot recall a single instance (barring being late for a meeting with the Service Chiefs due to events which he is at pains to make clear were beyond his control) in which Richards tells us of a decision he took or something he did which was anything less than successful and, above all, pleasing to him. If that doesn’t sound to you like a reliable account of an entire life and career, then you are not alone. Having said all of that, Richards clearly was effective and even if a large part of that can be explained by luck, there is also a large part that is down to him. Perhaps what one might term, diplomatically, an unshakeable self-belief may have been the factor which helped him to succeed, made others find him difficult to deal with, at times, and explains the style of this book. What he doesn’t help us to do is how to deal with setbacks because, according to him, he never had any.

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  • Robert
  • 01-02-18

Wasn't for me!!!!

Would you try another book written by David Richards or narrated by Jeremy Clyde?

I found this book boring and written by someone I didn't warm to.

Has Taking Command put you off other books in this genre?

Yes

How could the performance have been better?

It was ok

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None

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  • Brian P. Murphy
  • 08-23-21

War diaries are a must listen.

After reading some reviews I was skeptical about this book as been a grandiose self-aggrandizing account of ones own skewered military career. I was wrong.

Yes, when I started it the intro and stiff-upper lip British accent made me stop listening at the start and if I could of figured out how to return the book right there and then I would have. I think this was a symptom of just finishing several American General books.

Fear not though, as I listened on it became a great account of Military leadership in the 21st century. One chapter is dedicated to his day-by-day account from his in-theater diary. This, I found, was the true gem of this book (and worthy of study in the military college for sure).

Enjoy!

Lt.