Paul Illingworth, a dedicated and ambitious young officer at the threshold of life’s great adventure, comes face to face with the brutal realities of military command. In order to win the trust of an experienced and uncompromising platoon, he must choose between his childhood love and the path that beckons him onwards.
Set against the IRA ceasefire of the mid 1990s, this is a compelling story of leadership and the tough decisions it requires. This is writing with the precision and authenticity that only comes from personal experience. This novel creates a beautiful political allusion of Tony Blair and New Labour 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. In many ways, this is a story which has needed telling since Kosovo.
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