First Man In by Ant Middleton
Although this is not the usual type of book that I read and review (it’s not a business or personal development book for starters), I do enjoy learning from people who have mastered high-value skills, especially those in the military.
The author of this book, Ant Middleton, is one of the stars in the UK television series, SAS: Who Dares Wins.
In the series, a group of Ex-Special Forces soldiers put a group of civilians through parts of the SAS selection process.
The TV show gives you great insight into the intensity of military training.
Although the selection process is obviously physically demanding, it is also mentally challenging (your mind will give up before your body does) and it’s this aspect that I’m most interested in.
Middleton is the leader of the military training process in the TV show. So, having watched him in the series, and after following him on social media for some time, I was keen to hear his story and read his book.
Sadly, First Man In did not live up to my expectations.
Before I go into the reasons for my disappointment, I must mention that Ant Middleton has been a serving member of our Special Forces, and for that, I do have the greatest respect. Regardless of what I think of the book, I am forever grateful to him for the service he has provided to my home country and for putting his own life on the line so that I, and others, can enjoy the freedom that we have today.
Unfortunately, some of his life stories that he tells in the book do not endear him to me as a person. At times, I found him come across as “a bit of a dick!”
Thankfully, throughout the book as Ant matured, he did change as a person, although I think that is more attributable to his wife than to him! In reality, I believe her to be the biggest hero in the story and think that she should release a book! (Ant did dedicate this book to her, and rightly so.)
Previously, I had put Ant up on a pedestal and had a preconception of the kind of man that I thought he was. After reading the book, he fell off that pedestal and I felt let down, especially in the first half of the book. Thankfully, the second half of the book paints a much better picture of him but still left me feeling disappointed.
People always say that you should never meet your heroes. Well, you should never read their books either, and this is why.
Things to note
This book is not just an autobiography; there are lessons in it.
The author has related stories that illustrate the lessons he’s learned throughout his life, and each chapter contains a lesson that the reader can apply to their own life. So, if you prefer to read a narrative, rather than a lesson-by-lesson personal development book, then you will probably enjoy the style of this book.
Easy to read, but…
I liked the fact that the book is written in simple language and is, therefore, very easy to read.
That said, there are times when you come across a block of several short sentences. When bunched together in this way, it can make the book feel rather childlike in its construction.
Nothing about “SAS: Who Dares Wins”
Strangely, despite the fact that it was the TV series, “SAS, Who Dares Wins,” that made Ant Middleton famous, there is very little of it mentioned in the book.
However, he does talk about another smaller, spin-off TV show, “Mutiny on the Bounty,” in which he was involved.
It’s not clear why SAS: Who Dares Wins didn’t take up more of the spotlight, maybe it had something to do with copyrights or licensing, but I was rather disappointed nonetheless.
This book has been a Number 1 Sunday Times Bestseller and has remained at the top of the book charts for a considerable amount of time.
However, I believe that the success of this book is due to the celebrity status of the author and not because of the quality of the information found within its pages.
Due to the success of First Man In, Middleton has since released a second book titled The Fear Bubble.
Sadly, I will not be reading this book, however, if you have read it please let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.
Other military books
The bottom line is that I was disappointed with this book, especially compared to other books I’ve read by former military personnel.
I have scored all three of those books very highly and would not hesitate to recommend them over this book. I felt that I simply didn’t get enough value from First Man In to give it a high score.
Have you read “First Man In?”
This book review is my personal opinion and experience of “First Man In.”
If you’ve read this book or Ant Middleton’s latest read, share your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to give the book a score out of 10 by using the Reader Rating bar at the top of this post.