General Sir Mike Jackson is the best known British general of modern times. He retired in the autumn of 2006 after almost forty-five years' service in the British Army, finishing at its head as Chief of the General Staff. During that time he held every rank from officer cadet to four star general.
He has served in theatres from the Arctic to the jungle, including three tours of duty in Northern Ireland. In the course of the latter he was present at two of the most notorious incidents of 'The Troubles': so-called 'Bloody Sunday' in 1972, and the Warrenpoint massacre of 1979.
In 1999, as commander of KFOR, Jackson won acclaim for defying his superior officer, the American General Wesley Clark, and refusing to block the runways at Pristina Airfield in Kosovo. Fearing that a confrontation with the Russians might escalate, he told Clark: "I'm not going to start World War Three for you."
On 11 September 2001 Jackson was Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces, and as such he was responsible for assembling the British ground component of the coalition that toppled the Taliban. He took over as head of the British Army seven weeks before the invasion of Iraq.
Jackson's success stems from his outstanding leadership qualities matched by his forceful personality. His autobiography exhibits all the qualities for which he is admired: his professionalism, his honesty, his directness, his exuberance and his sense of humour. Most of all, it gives a vivid sense of what modern soldiering really entails.show more