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Richard Dannatt’s Boots on the Ground follows the fortunes of the British Army against the backdrop of Britain’s shifting security and defence policies since the end of the Second World War. From the decolonisation of India to the two interventions in Iraq, and, of course, Northern Ireland, the book tracks the key historical conflicts, big and small, of Britain’s transformation from a leading nation with some two million troops in 1945, to a significantly reduced place on the world stage and fewer than 82,000 regular troops in 2016. Despite this apparent de-escalation, at no point since the Second World War 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.
Dannatt examines the complexity of a great British institution coloured by his forty years of military service, including as Chief of the General Staff. He tells 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 to the EU Referendum.
General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL served in the army from 1969–2009, during which time he led troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo and held the positions of Commander-in-Chief, Land Command and Chief of the General Staff. On retiring from the Army, he was Constable of the Tower of London from 2009 to 2016.