Only the Young Shall Die, by Peter Polack and Jack McCain

UK publisher Lime Tree Press has acquired the rights to Only the Young Shall Die, by Peter Polack and Jack McCain, about raising the age of military enlistment. The owners of Lime Tree Press had previously acquired the South Africa rights to The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War: South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War (2013) by Peter Polack.

The book offers an opportunity to reflect on the youth of soldiers killed in battle since the Revolutionary War in 1776 and latterly by decision makers who have neither felt the heat of battle or the melancholy of casualties in the field.

This effort consists of statistics, images and more telling, the accounts of several soldiers in the field through many conflicts from diaries and other sources.

Only The Young

The average age of young men dying in combat has decreased substantially from earlier wars from mid-twenties to late teens. One estimate puts the average age of Union soldiers during the American Civil War at just under twenty-six years old. A report on enlisted men from North-West England in the Great War puts the average age of dead soldiers at twenty-seven years old, but more nineteen-year-olds died than any other age group.

By World War 11 the average age of the US fighting man was still twenty-six years. In the Vietnam War the average age of soldiers killed in action had declined to 23 years and twenty percent of those killed were less than twenty years old. 61% of those killed in Vietnam were under the allowable age for drinking alcohol in the USA, (twenty-one years). A useful snapshot of this evolving paradigm came on 10th July 2009 when five UK servicemen were killed in Helmand province of Afghanistan in one incident with an average age of twenty. Three of the dead soldiers were only eighteen.


Peter Polack is a former criminal lawyer in the Cayman Islands for several decades. His books are The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War: South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War (2013), Jamaica, The Land of Film (2017) and Guerrilla Warfare: Kings of Revolution (2019). He was a contributor to Encyclopedia of Warfare (2013). Polack worked as a part-time reporter for Reuters News Agency in the Cayman Islands 2014-16.

His article Syria: The Evolution Revolution was published in the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center magazine June 2014. In October 2018 Defence Procurement International published an article on the Guerrilla Warfare book entitled What Do Today's Jihadists Have In Common With Famous Guerrilla Fighters Of The Past? The Defence Procurement International Winter 2018 magazine featured his article Brief History of MRAP vehicles.

In September 2019 an excerpt from the George Washington chapter of Guerrilla Warfare Kings of Revolution was published in the American Intelligence Journal, Vol 36, No.1. His most recent article Soviet Spymasters: The limits of democracy and Navalny was published in Foreign Policy News 7 March 2021. In July 2020 McFarland publishers acquired his latest book entitled Encyclopedia of Soviet Spymasters to be published in 2021. The Encyclopedia is a compendium of Russian espionage activities with nearly five hundred Soviet spies expelled from nearly 100 countries worldwide. In April 2021 UK publisher Lime Tree Press has acquired the rights to Only the Young Shall Die by Peter Polack and Jack McCain about raising the age of military enlistment.

Jack McCain is a United States Navy Reserve helicopter pilot with HSC-85. McCain served in Afghanistan with the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group helping to build the Afghan Air Force’s first Black Hawk squadron in Kandahar, Helmand and Urozgan. He is the latest soldier descendant of a distinguished multi-generational military family. His first book was “Angola, Clausewitz, and the American Way of War” (2017) and he has published articles in Small Wars Journal, including one on the famed Buffalo Soldiers of the South African 32 Battalion. He has combined an unceasing interest in all things military with sacrifice for the nation being part of his DNA. He is married with one son.

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