Boots on the Ground by Richard Dannatt
On Lüneberg Heath in 1945, the German High Command surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery; in 2015, seventy years after this historic triumph, the last units of the British Army finally left their garrisons next to Lüneberg Heath.
Boots on the Ground is the story of those years, following the British Army against the backdrop of Britain's shifting security and defence policies. From the decolonisation of India to the two invasions of Iraq, and, of course, Ireland, the book tracks the key historical conflicts, both big and small, of Britain's transformation from a leading nation with some 2 million troops in 1945, to a significantly reduced place on the world stage and fewer than 82,000 troops in 2015. Despite this apparent de-escalation, at no point since WWII has Britain not had 'boots on the ground' - and with the current tensions in the Middle East, and the rise of terrorism, this situation is unlikely to change.
Sir Richard Dannatt brings forty years of military service, including as Chief of Staff, to tell the fascinating story of how the British Army has shaped, and been shaped by, world events from the Cold War to the Good Friday Agreement. Whether examining the fallout of empire in the insurgencies of Kenya and Indonesia, the politically fraught battle for the Falklands, the long-standing conflict in Ireland or Britain's relationship with NATO and experience of fighting with - or for - America, Dannatt examines the complexity of perhaps the greatest British institution.