2010
12.04

Killing? It’s just a job for Andy McNab. The highly decorated soldier and best-selling author feels no fear; rather he enjoys the excitement of conflict. But is this physically powerful man actually an emotional coward? And is anyone brave enough to ask him?

Interview: Andy McNab, soldier and best-selling author
Published Date: 30 November 2010
By Catherine Deveney

ANDY McNab is the most affable, good-humoured man you could meet, which makes his absence of empathy all the more startling. The ex-SAS man, the most decorated soldier in the British Army since the Second World War, and now best-selling author of the Nick Stone thriller series, is sitting with a Diet Coke, agreeing he “couldn’t have cared less” the first time he killed a man.

What if someone got run over and killed in front of him? “Well, they’re dead, aren’t they? What’s the point in being upset?” Married five times, he talks with equal detachment about ex-wives. What does his fifth wife think of him? “That I’m a dickhead.” Thing is, he’s just been tested for an experiment at Cambridge university and the parts of his brain governing empathy and fear were both visibly underdeveloped.

How did he feel about that? “Great,” he says. We both laugh. Even the psychologist joked about it. “He said, ‘You don’t care do you?'” And McNab’s wife? “She just said, ‘I know’. She’s known for years. That’s why she says I’m a dickhead.”

Blue eyes … dark hair … the craggy side of handsome. Friendly and engaged. McNab is never photographed openly – nor does he use his real name – because of his intelligence background in Northern Ireland. But we meet in a London hotel and he talks fast, in a Cockney drawl, with the openness of a man who’s figured things out and doesn’t much care what others think. Clues to his extraordinary levels of detachment are all there in a complex life story, from his abandonment as a baby to his capture and torture in Iraq. There are clues in his books too. The man who entered the British army with a reading age of 11 has just published Zero Hour, the 13th Nick Stone novel. Stone, a tough, independent intelligence operative, is a largely autobiographical creation, McNab admits. It’s easier that way. He describes Stone as “an emotional dwarf”. But he also says he has the capacity to be “soft as shit”. Draw your own conclusions.

Go here to read the full interview in The Scotsman

Andy McNab in The Scotsman 2010