Upcoming book: “Black Ops Falklands”
Hugh’s next book, which right now is well-into the editing process, will be published as an ebook by Nightstrike later this year. It will be Hugh’s first work of fiction, an historical military thriller about the Falklands War.
Provisionally entitled “Black Ops Falklands”, Hugh’s novel begins in 1981 in Northern Ireland, eighteen months before the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. Hugh brings to life the ill-preparedness of the British Army of that era, with its ambitious officers focussed on a Cold War that everyone knew would never entail fighting, while counter-terrorist operations in Northern Ireland provided what senior officers thought of as “good low-level training for young officers and junior NCOs”.
Those months before the Argentine invasion of April 1982 proved critical, with Whitehall ignoring Islander warnings. Government disinterest in the Falklands combined with the desire of Foreign Office officials to get rid of the Islands, led the Argentine junta into believing that an invasion would not be opposed by Britain.
But amid the ignorance of Cabinet Ministers and the idle disinterest of Foreign Office and MI6 officials, one senior intelligence officer Stanhope Chapman could see what was coming. A Parachute Regiment and SAS officer, Peter Straker, a gladiator misplaced amid the peacetime careerism of his peers, gets sucked into this amoral vortex.
In Hugh’s two-book series, Chapman’s careful planning and ruthless manipulation of others, plunges Peter Straker into a series of events from which he is not supposed to return.
Hugh McManners knows from personal experience the MoD and Whitehall environment in which he traces the often unbelievable development of the Falklands War. Much of what Hugh describes really did happen, with several of the major and most shocking incidents being fictional extrapolations of actual but so-far unreported events.
Far more than is openly accepted, The Falklands War was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life” – as the Duke of Wellington might have put it. These two novels, the first major work of fiction about this remarkable war, show just how close-run it really was.
Upcoming book: “Falklands Commando – Thirty Years”
The latest fourth ebook edition of Hugh’s’ best-selling autobiography “Falklands Commando” (NightStrike Limited 2014) ends with an additional half-chapter, in which the story continues back into the normal peacetime world. This was however far from being the end of the story.
Hugh continued in the Army with a posting to the office of the Chief of the General Staff in Whitehall, HQ 1st Armoured Division in Germany then Staff College Camberley; counter-terrorist work in Northern Ireland, high altitude mountaineering the Chinese Karakoram, then post-Army careers in television, as an author and the Defence Correspondent of The Sunday Times, and as a campaigner to get the MoD to look after soldiers with post-combat psychological problems. This last endeavour was prompted by Hugh developing PTSD himself – diagnosed after he left the Army in 1989.
After making himself seriously unpopular with the MoD by publishing a definitive book on the psychology of modern combat troops and combat-related PTSD “The Scars of War”, Hugh campaigned for the MoD to take seriously its responsibility to affected soldiers. This culminated in a 6-month High Court class action of 300 war veterans versus the MoD. Sadly this did not achieve much.
But now, in the last five years, Hugh has formed a medical research Foundation at the University of Oxford, The Scars of War Foundation, to research the cognitive neuroscience of post-combat psychological problems. Working with some of the best neuroscientists in the world, using very radical brain imaging techniques, the Scars of War Foundation will tease out the differences between actual brain injury that does not show up on diagnostic scans, and psychological problems. In reality there is little difference between the two; their symptoms are also much the same, and one can lead to the other. But until now, the techniques to do this did not exist.
So this particular story ends with Hugh and his Co-Director Professor Morten Kringelbach, taking up where the 1922 Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry into Shell Shock left this most serious of military and medical problems. As a Kings Centre for Military Health Research paper (Jones, Fear & Wessely 2007) stated:
“The 1922 Report of the War Office Committee of Enquiry Into “Shell-Shock” recommended that evidence be sought to limit the term to those cases in which a “causal connection” existed between “the effects of the explosive force and the symptoms resulting from the shock to the nervous system” (48). So far that hope has yet to be realized, although recent advances in neuroimaging may improve its prospects.”
In five years time, “Falklands Commando – Thirty Years” will be further amended, to report what has been learned, and how this will help our Service men and women live happy and fulfilled lives when they return from fighting to protect our Nation’s interests and freedoms.
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