|Birth name||Steven Billy Mitchell|
28 December 1959 |
|Years of service||1976–1993|
|Unit||Royal Green Jackets (1976–84)
Special Air Service (1984–93)
|Commands held||Bravo Two Zero|
|Awards||Distinguished Conduct Medal
McNab came into public prominence in 1993 when he published his account of the Special Air Service (SAS) patrol Bravo Two Zero, for which he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1991. He had previously received the Military Medal in 1980, awarded for an action whilst serving with the Royal Green Jackets in Northern Ireland during 1979.
In addition to Bravo Two Zero he has written two other autobiographies and a number of fiction books.
McNab was born on 28 December 1959. Found abandoned on the steps of Guy's Hospital in Southwark in a Harrods shopping bag, he was brought up in Peckham, with his adoptive family. He did not do well in school, dropped out and worked at various odd jobs, usually for friends and relatives, and was involved in petty criminality, finally being arrested for burglary in 1976. Partly inspired by his brother's time in the army, he wanted to join the British Army. He failed the entry test for training as an army pilot, but enlisted with the Royal Green Jackets at the age of sixteen.
He was posted to Kent for his basic training, and boxed for his regimental team. After basic training, he was posted to the Rifle Depot in Winchester. In 1977 he spent time in Gibraltar as part of his first operational posting, while with 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets.
From December 1977 to June 1978 he was posted to South Armagh, Northern Ireland, as part of the British Army's Operation Banner. In 1978 and 1979, he returned to Armagh as a newly promoted Lance Corporal, and claimed to have killed for the first time during a fire-fight with the Provisional Irish Republican Army. McNab wrote of the incident: "I remember vividly the first time I had to kill someone to stay alive. I was a 19-year-old soldier in Keady, South Armagh, and my patrol stumbled across six IRA soldiers, preparing for an ambush. When the shooting started, they were just 20 metres away from my patrol. I was scared, very scared." He was awarded the Military Medal for this incident. However, security sources later reported that the person McNab shot was only wounded and died as a result of injuries from a separate shoot-out later that day.
In 1982 after eight years with the Royal Green Jackets, he attempted SAS selection. After failing his first attempt, he passed in 1984, and transferred to the SAS. During his 10 years with Air Troop, B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment, McNab served with Al Slater, Frank Collins and Charles "Nish" Bruce. Writing in The Daily Telegraph in November 2008 McNab describes Bruce as "one of my heroes."
McNab worked on both covert and overt operations including counter terrorism and drug operations in the Middle East and Far East, South and Central America and Northern Ireland. McNab trained as a specialist in counter terrorism, prime target elimination, demolitions, weapons, tactics, covert surveillance roles and information gathering in hostile environments, and VIP protection. He worked on cooperative operations with police forces, prison services, anti-drug forces and Western backed guerrilla movements as well as on conventional special operations. In Northern Ireland, he spent two years working as an undercover operator with 14 Intelligence Company, going on to become an instructor.
During the Gulf War, McNab commanded Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man SAS patrol that was given the task of destroying underground communication links between Baghdad and north-west Iraq and with tracking Scud missile movements in the region. The patrol was dropped into Iraq on 22 January 1991, but was soon compromised, following which it attempted an escape on foot towards Syria, the closest coalition country.
Three of the eight were killed, and four captured (including McNab) after three days on the run; one member, Chris Ryan, escaped. The captured men were held for six weeks before being released on 5 March. By that time, McNab was suffering from nerve damage to both hands, a dislocated shoulder, kidney and liver damage, and hepatitis B. After six months of medical treatment he was back on active service.
Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab claims to have been the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he left the SAS in February 1993.
McNab assumed his pseudonym while writing Bravo Two Zero. When he appears on television to promote his books or to act as a special services expert, his face is shadowed to prevent identification. According to the book The Big Breach, by Richard Tomlinson, a renegade MI6 spy, McNab was part of a special training team after the Iraq war, training MI6 recruits in sabotage and guerrilla warfare techniques.
Due to the extremely sensitive nature of his work while serving with the SAS, McNab has a legally binding contract obliging him to submit his writings to the Ministry of Defence for review. He is still believed to be wanted by a number of the world's terrorist organisations; he therefore chooses not to reveal either his face or his current location.
After leaving the Army, McNab developed and maintained a specialist training course for news crews, journalists and members of non-governmental organisations working in hostile environments. He spent time in Hollywood as a technical weapons advisor and trainer on Michael Mann's film Heat. He was also the technical advisor on the 2005 crime film Dirty.
McNab has written about his experiences in the SAS in three best-selling books, Bravo Two Zero (1993), Immediate Action (1995), and Seven Troop (2008). Bravo Two Zero sold over 1.7 million copies, with Immediate Action selling 1.4 million in the UK. It has been published in 17 countries and translated into 16 languages. The CD spoken word version of Bravo Two Zero, narrated by McNab, sold over 60,000 copies and earned a silver disc. A BBC film of Bravo Two Zero, starring Sean Bean, was shown on prime time BBC One television in 1999 and released on DVD in 2000. Immediate Action, McNab's autobiography, spent 18 weeks at the top of the best-seller lists following the lifting of an ex-parte injunction granted to the Ministry of Defence in September 1995.
The veracity of McNab's first book, Bravo Two Zero, has been questioned by Michael Asher, an explorer, Arabist and former SAS reservist, who visited Iraq with a Channel 4 film crew, and interviewed many eyewitnesses. Asher concluded that much of what McNab wrote was a fabrication, and that there was no evidence that the Bravo Two Zero patrol accounted for a single enemy casualty. Moreover, McNab's account and that of his comrade Chris Ryan are contradictory on many points. This has been corroborated by Peter Ratcliffe, who was regimental sergeant major of 22 SAS Regiment during the Gulf War, who stated that, in a debriefing to the entire Regiment, recorded on video, none of the patrol members mentioned contacts with large numbers of enemies or any of the other extraordinary incidents included in the books. Asher's conclusion was that the book's claim to be 'the true story of an SAS patrol in action' was a fraud. Despite threats from their lawyers, neither McNab nor Ryan has brought a libel action against Asher for his conclusions, which were accepted by the Ministry of Defence to the extent that they issued a letter to the parents of deceased patrol-member, Vince Phillips, exonerating him from blame for compromising the patrol, as claimed in the books.
The Nick Stone Missions are a successful series based on an ex-SAS soldier working on deniable operations for British intelligence. The series draws extensively on McNab's experiences and knowledge of Special Forces soldiering. The Boy Soldier Series was written with the co-operation of Robert Rigby and follows a boy named Danny Watts and his grandfather Fergus, apparently a rogue ex-SAS soldier.
Andy McNab has also written books for Quick Reads, a charity that supports World Book day. BBC raw words offers exclusive audio versions of the latest Quick Reads by Andy McNab, Last Night Another Soldier (2010), read by Rupert Degas. Other fiction books include Audio Stories, Men at War series, Battlefield 3, Tom Buckingham series, and two young adult series: Dropzone Stories and The New Recruit series.
After his work on the Miramax film Heat, Miramax acquired the film rights to the first four of McNab's novels, and Echelon (2012) is currently[when?] in production, based on the book Firewall (2000). McNab will co-produce and co-write the script and also act as technical adviser. In 2014, Luke Evans was cast as Tom Buckingham in Red Notice with Nick Love as director. McNab will be consulting as technical advisor and have a role in production as well.
In conjunction with Spoken Group Ltd, he is pioneering spoken drama for download from the Internet and to mobile phones. These stories include real battlefield sound effects.
The Mobcast e-book platform he co-founded with Tony Lynch was sold to Tesco for £4.5 million with McNab's stake being worth £1 million.
McNab now lives in New York with his fifth wife. He is a director of military service recruitment, mentoring and Foundation organization, ForceSelect. McNab is also a board member of a private security company. He worked with DICE on perfecting various situations involving techniques on gun-fighting, stance and other war-related issues for Battlefield 3.
- Bravo Two Zero (1993)
- Immediate Action (1995)
- Seven Troop (2008)
- Spoken From The Front (2009)
- Spoken From The Front 2 (2011)
- The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success (2014 – co-writer Dr. Kevin Dutton)
Nick Stone Missions
- Remote Control (17 February 1998)
- Crisis Four (22 August 2000)
- Firewall (5 October 2000)
- Last Light (1 October 2001)
- Liberation Day (1 October 2002)
- Dark Winter (3 November 2003)
- Deep Black (1 November 2004)
- Aggressor (1 November 2005)
- Recoil (6 November 2006)
- Crossfire (12 November 2007)
- Brute Force (3 November 2008)
- Exit Wound (5 November 2009)
- Zero Hour (25 November 2010)
- Dead Centre (15 September 2011)
- Silencer (24 October 2013)
- For Valour (23 October 2014)
- Boy Soldier (US title Traitor, 5 May 2005)
- Payback (6 October 2005)
- Avenger (4 May 2006)
- Meltdown (3 May 2007)
Quick Reads project
- The Grey Man (8 May 2006)
- Last Night Another Soldier (4 May 2010)
- Today Everything Changes (31 January 2013)
- Iraq Ambush (May 2007)
- Royal Kidnap (June 2007)
- Roadside Bomb (September 2007)
- Sniper (TBA ?)
Dropzone Series (Young Adult)
- Dropzone Bk. 1 (February 2010)
- Dropzone Bk. 2 – Terminal Velocity (March 2011)
Men at War Series (written with Kym Jordan)
- War Torn (13 May 2010)
- Battle Lines (19 July 2012)
- Battlefield 3: The Russian (October 2011)
Tom Buckingham Series
- Red Notice (25 October 2012)
- Fortress (22 May 2014)
The New Recruit – Liam Scott series (Young Adult)
- The New Recruit (20 December 2012)
- The New Patrol (30 January 2014)
- The New Enemy (15 January 2015)
- Goodley, Simon (4 September 2012). "Andy McNab sells stake in Mobcast ebook business to Tesco". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Hanks, Robert (19 November 2004). "Andy McNab: The hidden face of war". The Independent. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "McGibbon, Rob, 2005 '''The Press Conference with Andy McNab''" (PDF). Robmcgibbon.com. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Stinson, James 'McNab tells of killing IRA man in 1979 gun battle' ''Irish News'', 1 August 2005". Nuzhound.com. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Biography | Andy McNab Official Website
- McNab, Andy (2008). Seven Troop. ISBN 9780552158664.
- McNab, Andy (22 November 2008). "Andy McNab on the battle that never ends". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "CNN LARRY KING LIVE: Larry King Interviews Bob Dole, Max Cleland". CNN.com – Transcripts. 20 November 2001. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
- Andy McNab Filmography | Internet Movie Database
- "Hero McNab goes back to Iraq". The Sun. Retrieved 27 February 2008. (subscription required (. ))
- Asher, Michael (2002). The Real Bravo Two Zero. ISBN 0752842471.
- The Real Bravo Two Zero. Channel 4.
- Ratcliffe, Peter (2000). The Eye of the Storm. ISBN 1854795333.
- Reynolds, Simon (28 October 2011). "Jason Statham exits Andy McNab's 'Echelon' movie". Digital Spy.
- "Behind scenes at SAS hijacking!". The Sun. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2011. (subscription required (. ))
- http://www.forceselect.com ForceSelect
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "The Grey Man (Quick Reads 2006) by Andy McNab". FantasticFiction. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Peter, Ratcliffe (2000). Eye of the Storm: Twenty-Five Years in Action with the SAS. Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 978-1-85479-809-1.
- Asher, Michael (2002). The Real Bravo Two Zero: The Truth Behind Bravo Two Zero. Cassell Military. ISBN 978-0-304-36554-8.
- Coburn, Mike (2004). Soldier Five: The Real Truth About The Bravo Two Zero Mission. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84018-907-0.
- Essay for BBC's This Week programme
- Andy McNab at the Internet Movie Database
- Grey Man's Land longstanding and respected fan site
- BBC raw words – Quick Reads
- Shotsmag Ezine Interview July 2012
- Andy McNab on the Literature Map
- Andy McNab at Lucas Alexander Whitley literary agents