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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2012
This is the first time that I've felt significantly mislead by the Amazon review process (particularly regarding books). Perhaps I should have been tipped-off by the unlikely volume of five-star ratings. This is not to say that there isn't merit to this book. There is. My opinion is that it is largely confined to a few chapters (not the ones stuffed with peculiar anecdotes). I suspect that this product was a very good essay tortured into book form.

To be fair, this book came third on a reading list including "Not a Good Day to Die" and "Imperial Grunts". As an essay, this piece may have found its place among them, but for tenacious redundancy and a filler of anecdotes that appear to be paraphrased. I don't know what other than paraphrasing would explain the similarity between his subjects' speaking styles and his own -that is, when he is writing in his third-person anecdotal style (quoting himself as "the author"). His style is markedly different elsewhere in the book (the portion which composes a convincing essay). I might dismiss the similarities of voice between the various accounts and reflections (including his own), based on common military service but for two reasons:

A) Neither the subjects in the two other books I reference, nor my personal friends who've served (as relatively lowly 68w, 25s, 21b and marine) are so ineloquent, glib, and/or sensational.

B) The commonalities seem to reflect more literary style than colloquialism.

I think this guy had a lot of help crafting this book by people who found him marketable. I suppose a fine paper is less marketable. I propose than more harm than good was done by rounding it out and filling it up. I also think the work vacillates between being an academic product designed to sell his professional services and a product designed to appeal popularly. I suspect the swing is so profound that half the book will be lost on either audience. He might have done better to write a few pamphlets -the book is scarcely more than a pamphlet as it stands.

This book is a 3. It gets a 2 because it has misrepresented drastically enough in these reviews to inspire suspicions of rigging.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2014
Book was completely one sided and liberal. I expected much better from a former Ranger from the 75th. It was so repetitive after the 6th page you can just stop reading because you've gotten all the information the book has to offer. Also the consistent blaming of Bush every other page for the war in Iraq and how the massacres the security contractors commit was all his fault gets old fast.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
I am pleased those of you who read this book enjoyed it, but please take it for what it is, Its a book written by someone who has spent very little time at the sharp end of Private contracting and most of the stories in it are second hand and have been somewhat embellished. Claiming to be a world authority on PSC's and private security is easy if you call reading lots of books and listenning to PSC operators war stories being an expert. He writes well and as I said if you enjoyed it then it was worth the money, just dont believe all you read. There is mixture of fact and fiction in there. Those of you who provided the stories will know what I am saying is true.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2012
I stopped reading it. Keeps saying the same thing over and over. Boring. I'm sorry but I just simply did not connect on this one.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2012
This was the biggest load of crap since the new deal. The guy has a ego problem that is for certain.
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on January 12, 2015
I think my favorite review here started with, "It was a WAIST of time...". Mmmmk. Tell us more from your infinite experience on the subject.

Having been a part of a specialized military community and actually having spent time in the region I was able to both identify with and appreciate the author's message. Engbrecht's obvious experience, credentials, and insight notwithstanding, this book offers an objective view of the PMC world, whether it is what the reader wants to hear or not. The actual accounts, both the author's and those of people he actually has worked with, bled with, and knows personally, from both sides of the coin are, in my mind, relevant, accurate and sobering. It's not a romance novel and it sugar-coats nothing; just what ought to be expected from such an unforgiving profession operating in austere environments.

This isn't a business for everyone, and the author makes clear the pros, cons, and harsh realities of the life of private contractors. In not only speaking to the insider, America's Covert Warriors reveals the not-so-pretty underbelly of an industry that has its genesis in integrity, but has unfortunately been corrupted along the way. The resurgence of the PMC world and the re-building of its reputation start with legitimate perspective and forthright discussion, both of which I found here. Whether you're interested in entering this field or just plain curious, this book, in my mind, is a spot-on depiction of what to expect and what went down in an environment of not-so-clear-cut objectives and perhaps dubious intentions.

Much as the world pf private military contracting is not for everyone, this book is not here to appease all opinions. Of the negative reviews I am curious how many have ever walked in Engbrecht's shoes.

An excellent read.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2011
This guy did his homework. A really interesting book, well written and very insightful. I found some of the details absolutely fascinating. Like how the Clinton Administration went around the arms embargo to defeat Serbia, or the fact that we currently have tons of Spec Ops troops in Kenya which was something I never knew about. The book is well balanced, with the right mix of background information and personal anecdotes, of which the author found some really moving ones. It has certainly changed my opinion about how we should be conducting operations in Afghanistan.
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on August 17, 2015
Enjoyed Shawn's stories about his time working as a private contractor.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2011
This book is like the movie "Crash" that won so many awards. Hard to explain but worth the trip to the bookstore. It's not really a memoir but is full of highly readable accounts of life and death in Iraq. It's not really a history book but does a better job of bringing history to life and making it relevant than most history books. The writer reminds me of David Hackworth, another of my favorites. The author's suggestions are valid and seem more intelligent than most of the stuff coming out of Washington DC. I really enjoyed it and would endorse it to others.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2011
This book is an excellent read. Shawn Engbrecht manages to keep the reader fully engaged with true grit details from real life Private Military Contractors, citing the pros and cons of the industry as a whole. Shawn's expertise as a former military serviceman, Private Military Contractor, founder of CASS, and as an instructor and mentor to many in the field, shines forth in a piece of work that falls nothing short of literary genius. This man could very well change the entire way Private Military Contractors operate on a global scale, for the betterment of all. Shawn clarifies the need for standardization in the industry, and has executed well thought out plans to contribute to the overall improvement of the shoot, move, and communicate factor. Shawn clearly did his homework from both hands on experience on the front lines, and from behind the lines. He evidently researched a lot of facts surrounding the actions of Private Military Contractors, government officials, and those who were more concerned with making a profit in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, at the price of life. Read it. You will not be disappointed.
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