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Combat Swimmer: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL Paperback – August 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This book is at once a memoir, a history and a warning. Gormly has been part of the SEAL community virtually since its emergence. In Vietnam as a junior officer, he met the absence of strategic policy with a tactical approach: killing as many Viet Cong as possible. Even in retrospect, Gormly concludes that the most effective U.S. approach might have been attacking the enemy's infrastructure by eliminating the "cadres" who spread and enforced Communist ideology by terrorist means. The limited political sophistication of this approach is suggestive, particularly in the context of Gormly's progress through the Navy's special operations system from 1968 to his assignment as commander of SEAL Team 6 in 1983. When Gormly relieved the notorious Richard Marcinko, he inherited a unit that had made a policy of pushing envelopes and ignoring rules. His description of the intraservice politics involved in taming the organization without breaking its morale is as good as anything in print on the challenge of maintaining effective special operations forces in the contexts of a democratic system. His account of the 1985 capture of the Achille Lauro's hijackers reveals a delicate balance of roles and responsibilities in managing doctrine and training considerations, tactical issues and policy questions. Gormly is no knight without fear and reproach in the mold of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan. He is a warrior for the working day, not always right and not always wise. But in a harsh world, it will comfort many to know that men with Gormly's spirit, character and patriotism wear this country's uniform. 8 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this literate and straightforward memoir, Gormly details the events of an exciting, 29-year career in the Navy, almost all of which was spent as a SEAL. His recollections of fighting the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta are exciting and give one a glimpse of how nasty guerrilla wars are. Of special interest will be his accounts of the SEAL's performances in Grenada in 1983 and in covert actions against the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. Adams Morgan's performance is as straightforward as the text. His delivery is deliberate and has a confidence that is almost cocky. For popular and military collections.AMichael T. Fein, Catawba Valley Community Coll., Hickory, NC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451230140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451230140
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Richard Tsuyuki on June 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've never served in the military, but I have great respect for those who follow that kind of life. I also have great interest in history, military strategy and tactics, and behavior in combat situations. I therefore checked out the following special-forces-related books from the library: Rogue Warrior, by Marcinko, Combat Swimmer, by Gormly, and Inside Delta Force, by Haney.

Marcinko's book is a classic testosterone-driven, adolescent Hollywood adventure story. I mean that in a (mostly) good way. The author's focus is on himself, on his grand escapades, and his ability to destroy his enemies, whether at war or in the chain of command. It makes for a fun read, although I never knew how much Marcinko might be inflating his exploits.

Gormly is in many ways the anti-Marcinko. Of course they knew each other, and Gormly goes into some detail about inheriting Marcinko's SEAL team and getting the house back in order. But more than that, Marcinko represents the unihibited ego, breaking all the rules and doing whatever he wants. Gormly is all about responsibility and chain of command. Don't get me wrong; he's not at all boring, but definitely comes off as a stiffer sort of character. I'd rather work for Gormly (more job security; less likely to get killed unexpectedly) but I'd rather have a beer with Marcinko (though too much of that, and you probably increase your chances of getting killed unexpectedly).

Haney strikes somewhat of a balance. He's more individualistic than Gormly, but more disciplined than Marcinko. He's also the best writer of the three, with a good mix of gritty reality and genuine philosophical reflection. That's probably why I liked his book the best.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott Carmichael on March 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Captain Robert Gormly takes the public on an inside tour of the SEAL community. Through BUD\S, two tours in Vietnam, and becoming CO of SEAL Team Six, Captain Gormly tells the true stories of it all! Go along with SEAL Team Six as they retake the Achille Lauro. Set ambushes in the jungles of Vietnam. Experiance Hell Week. With Combat Swimmer, you can! For the future Frogmen, this one is for you!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jha4seal2@net-nerds.com "Hoot" Andrews on November 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Served with Capt. GORMLEY in SEAL Team TWO. A fine officer, fair, a leader, and listened to his men. Enjoyed his book, and authencity. Glad I bought this book. J.H. "Hoot" Andrews, USN, Ret.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steven L. Waterman on October 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Those who are not operators live off the reputation of those who are. Bob Gormly was an operator and performed in the highest tradition of Naval Special Warfare. Not only was Captain Gormly a damned fine operator and Teammate to his troops, but as an officer he looked to the future of the Teams, unlike some of his predecessors who seem to be very adept at bending the truth to their advantage. This book meant even more to me as I am personally acquainted with several persons mentioned in the book. Bob told the story like it was, with no embellishments. Sometimes the truth is very interesting. Good job, Bob, write another one. I am sure you have more in you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Fraga on March 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It takes a special person to make it through the rigors of BUD/S Training alone. Robert Gormly did just that and then went on to have a highly decorated career spanning 29 years in the Navy SEALS. Combat Swimmer is an excellent read for anyone interested in Naval Spec Ops. Gormly offers a captivating story to the reader at all times. His accounts of sitting neck-deep in the canals of the Rung Sat Secret Zone truly make you feel as if you are one of the operators along for the ride with him. His narrative blend of both action and bureaucratic issues give a wide picture of what the SEALS were all about. This is a tough book to put down at night, and I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A very enjoyable book. It has more interesting detail about operations than books like "Rogue Warrior," without the obscenity, which may dissapoint some readers. Gormly is rough on Marcinko, even going back to the Vietnam period... "he was leading from the rear." Ouch! Gormly oversaw, and participated in, so many high profile military conflicts that it is a "must read" for anyone who likes combat books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I couldn't put the book down. Capt. Robert A. Gormly tells it like it is. Because of this book I have decided to join the Navy SEALs. For a book to influence me like that it has to be a excellent book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dick Couch (sealone@wolfenet.com) on August 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Bob Gormley has given us (finally) a balanced and realistic look at the business of being a Navy SEAL. The craft of Special Operations is one that reguires intregety, hard work, courage, discipline and judgement. Especially judgement. It is NOT a trade where profanity, abuse and anti-social behavior are required or even tolerated. Nicely done Bob! But it'll never get you a spot on Larry King Live.
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