This novel is the first in a trilogy following two characters through the wars of the Blair/Brown period of government. Paul Illingworth, an ambitious young army officer at the threshold of life’s great adventure, is confronted by the realities of military command. In order to win the trust of an experienced and uncompromising platoon he must choose between his childhood love and a path that lures him onwards.
Set against the collapse of the IRA ceasefire in the mid 1990s, this is a compelling story of leadership written with precision and authenticity. As Paul grows in confidence, mirroring the rise of New Labour, the novel creates a beautiful allusion of Tony Blair coming to power.
“The British public sympathises with its army, but does not empathise with it. That is why it needs to read ‘In the Shadow of the Mountain’, and not just because it will help it understand what motivates soldiers. Fergus Smith’s characterisation is strong. None of his principal protagonists is overdrawn, and their ambitions, foibles and strengths are plain enough, as well as – ultimately – admirable. The army trumpets the ideals of leadership; this book explains what they are, and how they operate.”
Professor Sir Hew Strachan, author of the BBC TV series 'The First World War', and Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College Oxford
“The true scale of the impact politics has on modern military operations, from an individual mission to the grand strategy, is one the taboos of recent history. This book breaks that taboo with brutal clarity and should be as thought-provoking as it is enthralling.”
James Clark, former Defence Editor, The Sunday Times.
“This fascinating book unpacks the day-to-day practice of front line professional soldiers... Anyone with ambitions to lead should read this book...”
Professor Chris Ivory, Anglia Ruskin University
The author served as an officer in The Parachute Regiment for twelve years. He is a keen political observer and writes a regular blog on the Headsail books website: Headsail Books