Speed, Aggression, Surprise

Speed, Aggression, Surprise

The Untold Secret Origins of the SAS


Brought to you by Penguin.

The Who Dares Wins Pioneers

The origins story of the SAS is a myth.
This is the real story of how the world's preeminent Special Forces came into existence.

Speed, Aggression, Surprise is a fly-on-the-wall, character-driven story of how, from the wreckage of Dunkirk, emerged the idea of guerrilla Commando units who could inflict devastating 'mosquito stings' on larger, and better-armed opponents.

It's a story of how the shock of defeat propelled an unlikely group of renegades into the frontline of the war. An adventure that reaches back from the trenches of the Western Front to high piracy in the deserts of North Africa to the final assault on Germany. It's a story that comes together in the corridors of headquarters, on long nights at the long bar in Shepherd's Hotel in Cairo, and on the deadliest battlefields in history, around a cast of insubordinate mavericks who didn't fit into the tight military hierarchy.

Jumping between dramatic accounts from the field and back-channel power negotiations, and pulling in a cast of characters that includes Evelyn Waugh, Ernest Hemingway and Randolph Churchill, as well as a lot of alcohol, amphetamines and grenades, this is the real story of the SAS as you have never seen it before.

© Tom Petch 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022


  • Awesome! The true story of the men who invented Special Forces warfare is even more compelling than the mythology

About the author

Tom Petch

Tom Petch served for eight years in the British Army, as a tank commander, adjutant, aide de camp and a Troop Commander of 22 SAS. His military experience gives him a unique perspective on recently declassified archives, operation reports, accounts and interviews of the original SAS and their commanders. He is now an award-winning film director and producer whose debut film, The Patrol, won the Raindance Film Festival. He is also the great-great-great-grandson of Samuel Shepheard, who founded Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo where the SAS was born.
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