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I was honored to get a pre-release copy of this book and I was very excited to read it. Then I read the news a couple of days later that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Killed by SEALs from Team Six! Damn, now I could not wait to get my hands on this book! Talk about great timing.

This book is the memoir of Howard Wasdin, a sniper from SEAL Team Six, and co-authored by Stephen Templin, who met Howard when the two of them were going through BUD/S training together. While neither of the authors were on Team Six at the time of the OBL takedown, the book does give an excellent account of SEAL training and is one of the few books that actually talks about SEAL Team Six, which is an elite team inside the already incredibly elite world of the Navy SEALs.

The book is very exciting, written well, and gives in-depth accounts of Wasdins childhood. You can feel the pain he goes through at the hands of an abusive step-father. While that is a bad situation, you can see how Wasdin internalizes that pain and suffering and uses it to help him get through BUD/S training, which is hands-down the toughest training on this planet.

The chapter titled "The only easy day was yesterday" tells about a portion of Wasdin's time at BUD/S training. It goes into details about the rigorous training but can only cover some of it because the training is so intense and varied that it takes whole books to even come close to detailing it. If you are interested I highly recommend The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 and The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident by Dick Couch. Those two books will give you an inside look into what it takes to become a Navy SEAL. After you read them you will never again question the dedication that these men have and you will be humbled in their presence because they are pretty amazing people.

Wasdin walks us through his Navy career, tells about his time in SEAL Team Two, and how he tested and interviewed to become a member of Team Six. It then goes on to give detailed accounts of his time at Marine Corp Sniper school, almost too much detail because the "deer tic" story is a visual I could have lived without. But I Guess that is something you never really think about when you are crawling into position to take a shot. Taking hours to crawl a hundred yards has got to be intense, when even the slightest movement can be picked up by the enemy. It is just another look into the intensity and dedication these professional operators have.

This book kept my attention from cover to cover, but the sections on Somalia were especially riveting. Wasdin was a key member in the Battle of Mogadishu which many of you know from the book Black Hawk Down and the movie by the same name. In this intense battle he was shot three times, almost losing a leg, but as a testament to his professionalism and training he continues to fight to save his fellow warriors.

The book wraps up with a few chapters detailing his recovery and re-insertion back into civilian life. He also tells how he finally came to peace with his retirement from the SEALs and has been guided into doing what he feels he is destined to do, helping others. I highly recommend this book.

Another great book you will enjoy is Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell which details Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. Another amazing book.
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You read a book like this because you love the action, the scenarios and the pure learning curve it provides about one of the deadliest combat forces in history. Author Howard Wasdin was an actual member of Seal Team Six and retired out on a medical discharge after he sustained severe injuries on a mission.

This book simply gives you details of the life of a Navy Seal that you will not find anywhere else, and I believe I have read most of what is on the market. Wasdin was involved with missions such as the Battle of Mogadishu, and the first Gulf War. He pulls no punches and he minces no words. What is is, and he is unafraid to tell you about it within the bounds of protecting his fellow Seals.

As an example, he mentions that during the first Gulf War he thought it was reasonable that the Seals should have been put in charge of protecting the Kuwaiti oil fields from the retreating Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. The generals in charge thought otherwise. As a result Hussein's troops set fire to the fields during the retreat. Some 600 oil wells were fired up. Kuwait lost 5 to 6 million barrels per day. Five percent of the physical country was a mixture of land and oil, and it cost $1.5 billion to clean up, and nobody talks about it.

Wasdin is also very clear about what service to his country does to a marriage - it simply destroys it. It does not take long for a wife to realize that a Seal is more married to his team than he is to a woman. Most marriages suffer as a result, including his own, but training and the mission come first and as Seals like to say, the more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war.

The book contains 307 pages in 17 chapters plus an epilogue. My favorite chapters were:

7) Desert Storm

8) Seal Team Six

13) Battle of Mogadishu

If you have an interest in the training and specific operational procedures that these professionals face, then this is the book for you. Whether it is learning to operate a .300 Caliber Win Mag sniper rifle or H&P MP-5 Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun, this book is full of absolutely fascinating state of the art information. From swimming in high seas to doing high altitude-low opening jumps from airplanes, these men are among the best trained warriors in history. Yes there are others such as the Army's Delta Force, or Air Force Search and Rescue, but now with the death of Bin Laden, Seal Team Six will enter into the stuff of legends.

If you have any interest in war and special operations groups than I urge you to read Seal Team Six, and thank you for reading this review.

Richard Stoyeck

Post Script:

When I was learning to shoot weapons many years ago, I sought out the best shooter in the world. I found him in Florida, and he was a former world champion. I traveled down from New York and upon arrival, I met a handful of Navy Seals who were training with this gentleman as well. Over a period of days we all hit it off. What I noticed which has never been written about anywhere is the brainpower that these warriors possess. Any of these individuals could have been doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers. They are extremely bright, and handle themselves in a highly professional and at the same time in a private manner. No braggarts in this group.
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on May 16, 2011
It's an exciting albeit clunky read. I enjoyed it for the story and the information it covered. There are lots of intriguing historical and anecdotal references throughout that keep it moving along. But it really could have used some additional editing and/or co-writing from someone who truly is a skilled writer. There are passages that are a bit too tangential and thus disrupt the flow. Information sometimes seemed crammed in out a sense of stream of consciousness rather than serving pertinent narrative value at that point in the book. They are often interesting or significant asides regarding historical events or referencing other operatives, but they seem jarring in their placement and all too often so brief that you feel left hanging for the rest of that piece of story.

That said, the story of Howard Wasdin's journey from being a kid with an abusive step-father to becoming an elite operative and how his experience as a youth directly influenced and guided his ability to excel at training was fascinating. And of course there is plenty of exciting reading when he recounts the various missions (both training and "real world") he was involved in leading up to his involvement in the Battle of Mogadishu. I also found the section of the book about post-operative (pun unintended) life to be a very nice surprise that really gives the whole book a very real and personal arc. The internal battle he had transitioning into a civilian life without team camaraderie and his path to finding a new career that he genuinely loves and his passion for helping people are endearing.

My only real criticism of the book is it's rather inelegant and blatant product placement. It is one thing to mention the arms maker and model of weaponry and equipment used in operations and training. That type of information is required for a properly detailed book on this subject matter. However, the book is riddled with brand name references to minor pieces of equipment and clothing that are just too prominent, and at times it is almost comical. There are whole portions of paragraphs that run on like some pieces advertising copy for things like sunglasses and casual pants and at times I found myself surprised that they didn't included the manufacturers model number and a "Buy It Here" link. In other spots the brand names are conspicuously not referenced, thus making you wonder whether they aren't named because they didn't pay a product placement gratuity or something. It's certainly not a deal breaker, but by the end of the book I did find it a bit tedious and amateurish.
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on November 3, 2011
Overall this book was a pretty good read. However, it is over hyped due to the timing of this books release coincided with Bin Laden's Death.
This book does have some great things going for it. It reads at a very fast pace. There are some very interesting examples of some of the training that Wasdin went through as a SEAL Team Six Sniper. The sections about his combat experience in both Desert Storm and Somalia are well put together. I feel that his writing moves at a great pace throughout the book. I was definitely turning the pages throughout the entire book.
There were also some downfalls that have been elaborated on by some of the other reviewers that really knock this book down a few levels. The awkward product placement is there. I do not think it is as big of a deal that some reviewers on here make it out to be. It just sounds weird how in depth he describes his pants or his sunglasses at random points in the book. I also thought that Wasdin spent way too much time talking about his childhood. I understand this is a memoir and they all follow a similar formula, but he basically glanced over his BUD/S training and went into depth about his stepfather and his upbringing. The author's ego also seems to really be out of control at times. Robert Gormlys book Combat Swimmer did not have a hint of alter ego in it. He was the Commander of Seal Team Six at one point. Let's face it folks, this book was released right after Osama Bin Laden was killed by SEAL Team Six operators. This book has been a best seller and there are a good number of reviews on here. Why is it Gormlys book did not get this kind of attention? After all as I pointed out earlier, he was the Commander of Seal Team Six at one point and a career Navy SEAL. The answer is because his book was released in 1999.
All in all I felt this was a good book but I feel it is a bit overrated. I think there are much better books on the topic that are not getting this kind of press. Robert Gormlys Combat Swimmer, Dennis Chalkers One Perfect Op, and Richard Marcinkos Rogue Warrior have some more insights on the origins of SEAL Team Six and their operations. Dick Couch's Warrior Elite, The Finishing School, and Down Range really get in Depth about the SEAL training and capabilities. I would highly recommend Dick Couchs trilogy before anything else. Also two non SEAL books that I think are the best military special ops memoirs out there are Eric Haney's Inside Delta Force, and Billy Waugh's Hunting the jackal.
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This is a powerful book that gives an inside view of the SEALS and, particularly, the exclusive Team Six. I admit I was somewhat annoyed with the self-aggrandizement of the author in some parts and the numerous mention of the Vuarnet and Ray-Ban aviator, Oakley and tea Rentz Revo sunglasses.

"While patrolling, I wore Revo sunglasses, made with NASA technology by the same Italian eyewear company, Luxottica, that owns Ray-Ban and Oakley. The Revos had the clearest lenses and the best polarized protection, and they stayed on comfortably."

Then another ad reads, "I like to wear khaki Royal Robbins pants because they're easy to run in, have a lot of pockets, and look nice." Similar "ads" run throughout the book and, to me, they're quite obvious as they seem professionally written by a copywriter, not a former SEAL. The idea is that many people would love to look and act like a SEAL and they'll buy these products.

I'm not sure, of course, but it appears the authors may have used product placement throughout the book. Product placement is a form of advertising where companies pay to have their products placed in books, television shows and movies. It's a form of subtle advertising and it's very effective.

The author appears to do this with numerous products that he says he used while a SEAL and later in civilian life. This certainly doesn't take away from the story that's told. In fact, as a professional marketing consultant, I find it a very smart tactic.

Am I sure that product placement is used in this book? No, of course not. But if the author isn't getting paid for the many mentions, he should be. But, now on to the story.

The fight scenes are among the most revealing and interesting.

I saw some sensitivity in him. For example, about a firefight in one developing country he writes, ". . . the smell of human waste and death--mixed with hopelessness--filled the air. Yes, hopelessness has a smell. People use the term "developing countries," but that is bullcrap. What developed in Somalia was things such as hunger and fighting. I think "developing countries" is just a term used to make the people who coined it feel better. No matter what you call them, starvation and war are two of the worst events imaginable."

But, he adds, "Each time I made a shot, I immediately forgot about that target and scanned for another." Each kill was merely a target, not a human being. That's no doubt the only way a person can live this sort of life. He has to view a kill as a target through his scope.

"I was in my own little world, though. Nothing existed outside my scope and my mission," he says.

The team members count on each other. Those who fail or can't make the grade don't have the respect of those who go through the training and come out on top. "A number of the racehorses were the biggest crybabies. They'd probably been number one much of their lives, and now when they had their first taste of adversity--BUD/S style--they couldn't handle it. What the hell is wrong with these prima donnas?"

These losers were big on the football field and in various endeavors before SEAL training. But when it came to training for this elite group of fighters, they can't make the grade. They can't be counted on.

At one point he and some of his buddies, also SEALS, were in a bar. Someone made an anti-American remark and the SEALS came unglued. After a good deal of commotion they were arrested.

About their appearance in court the author writes, "The judge asked, "Why were three of these men taken to jail and immediately released, and Petty Officer [Dick] wasn't released until later?" The K-9 officer explained, "The dog bit him, and we had to take him to the doctor for a shot."

"How long could that have taken?" the judge asked. "Well, Your Honor, he took a bite out of my dog, so I had to take my dog to the vet for a shot." The courtroom behind us erupted in laughter. The K-9 officer explained, "Your Honor, it really isn't funny. It took me months to train him, and I still spend sixteen hours a month training him. But since Petty Officer [Dick] bit the dog, it won't do the job anymore." He said, "The laughter rose to sheer pandemonium."

But throughout the book, the author makes sure we know what an elite, very special group they are. 'Whenever the ship's crew saw us coming through the passageway wearing our camouflage uniforms and SEAL tridents, they said, "Make a hole, SEAL coming through.' It felt like being a celebrity."

It's interesting how the troops, and perhaps especially the special forces, can see how politics plays a major roll on their efforts. The author says, "In spite of the gains, President Clinton saw our sacrifices as losses. Even though we could've finished the job of taking down Aidid and getting food to the people, Clinton turned tail and ran. He ordered all actions against Aidid stopped. Four months later, Clinton released Osman Atto, Omar Salad, Mohamed Hassan Awale, Abdi Yusef Herse, and the other prisoners."

He adds, "We left our Somali friends dangling in the breeze. I felt like our sacrifices had been in vain. Why did they send us if they weren't willing to finish the job? We shouldn't have become involved in Somalia's civil war--this was their problem, not ours--but once we committed, we should've finished what we started: a lesson we are required to keep relearning over and over again."

This type of thing happens time and again under many administrations. It must be disheartening and one has to wonder how many lives are lost unnecessarily because of politics.

The book is fast-paced. It's a great action read. It's educational. The author writes like a simple guy who is sitting in his front room talking one-on-one. He doesn't try to write like a writer or impress with extra verbiage. Aside from the self-importance he obviously feels it's easy to like the guy. It would likely get old being around someone as macho as this guy sounds. But, as I said earlier, he no doubt had to think he was above the fold to do what he did and to be successful. He can't be condemned for that.

Highly recommended.

-- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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on August 11, 2011
Given all the great reviews maybe my expectations were too high. But this wasn't particularly well written or organized. Many times I went back to Amazon to make sure I was reading the book I read all these great reviews about. This isn't intended to take away anything from the patriot the book is about or his bravery and contribution. It is more about the quality of the writing than anything else.
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on September 8, 2011
My first thought after putting this book down was that I am very glad that we have men like Howard fighting for us overseas. Knowing more about what SEALS do makes me feel that we owe them a debt of gratitude that can never sufficiently be repaid.

With that said, I agree with other reviewers who said that the writing was awkward. I don't think it's fair to blame Howard--people who write well are people who spend a lot of time in libraries; they don't dash around the globe to dangle out of helicopters the way Howard has done most of his life. I hold the co-writer or editor responsible--I do a lot of writing/editing at a large university and much more could have been made from the material in this book.

As far as Howard's ego goes, I also agree with other reviewers that it was unattractive at times; however, I have several family members in the military and have known several people in highly specialized jobs like Howard's, so I can say from experience that egos like his are more the norm than the exception in military culture.

I am glad, however, that he has found happiness as a chiropractor and with a new wife and life; he certainly deserves it. Thank you, Howard, for writing this book and for your honorable service to our country.
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on May 20, 2011
"SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin is a memoir of Mr. Wasdin time as a Navy SEAL. This book just happens to come out after SEAL Team Six took out Bin-Laden. The book was not rushed to print because of the operation. I thought this was an important point to make.

The book is a behind the scenes look at SEAL Team Six, a unit which specialized in counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. Howard Wasdin writes about the grueling selection process, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) and sniper school.

After going through the selection process, Mr. Wasdin faced combat operations in Desert Storm as a member of SEAL Team Two and got selected for SEAL Team Six. He was sent to Somalia on a mission to capture or kill Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

"SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin is a well written memoir which walks the reader through Wasdin's childhood, Navy SEAL training, several missions and Mr. Wasdin settling down with his beloved wife and children.

This is an exciting book, an easy and fast read. While the authors cover a lot of ground, the book kept my attention throughout.

Especially poignant, for me, were the chapters about Somalia and the Battle of Mogadishu. I read a lot about that battle and Mr. Wasdin's point of view is raw, honest and different from anything I read before. I am familiar with most of the people he mentioned and reading about them, the tactics and the battle from a different, on the ground perspective were an amazing experience for me.

I appreciated the chapters about the rough training and the reasons for it ("the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle"), it is amazing the mental fortitude of these warriors which helps them go through, what seems to me, almost superhuman tasks.

At the beginning I thought there were a lot of product placement in the book, which I found disappointing, however the more I read the more I realized that it is not product placement (even though it's hard to tell) but simply telling the reader about the equipment being used - the best of the best - and why.

A bit disturbing were the chapters about Mr. Wasdin's childhood and the abuse he suffered by his step father. Mr. Wasdin credits that abuse with his ability to withstand pain and attention to detail, which I gathered he truly believes.

I don't want anyone who read this book to think that if you beat the living hell out of your child he'll turn out to be a Navy SEAL or an elite warrior. Mr. Wasdin does make that point very clearly in the book, but I didn't feel he made it strongly enough or often enough.

During my service I have met many people from the special forces including the most elite units and the one thing common to all of the was the simple fact that this is what they were born to do.
You cannot learn or acquire the characteristics, capabilities and fortitude to become an elite warrior.
You either have those or you don't.
You can hone your skills, find the hidden talents, sharpen them and practice to become better but you have to be born with them to begin with.

At the end of the book there is a section about the "Special Operations Warrior Foundation" founded in 1980 as a college scholarship fund for children of special operations warriors who have been killed. Please take some time to visit them and make a donation if you can.
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This was an interesting book and a look into the life of a Seal Team Six member. It was an interesting story and for the most part I liked the book. There were a couple of issues that I didn't care for but that is common with many books.

I found the parts about the extensive training and the weeding out process that the people go through to become a Seal to be very interesting. I also like the information provided about the detailed preparation that was done before going on an operation. Undercover penetration into hostile situations was also very interesting and the life behind the lines was a story unto itself.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the weapons that the Seals carried and also the battle stories that Mr. Wasdin experienced. There were some gruesome and horrific battles and the loss of life of the troops and the situations that the military were put into had to be quite frightening.

What I thought was overdone was the continued repeating of Mr. Wasdin's growing up and the abuse that he faced from his father. I know those types of things make people tough and I grew up in a poor area and experienced some of that myself or saw my friends experience it. Unfortunately it is told over and over and over.

I also thought the stories were told in such a way that it gave an insight into Mr. Wasdin's ego. You have to expect some of that from an elite warrior with the type of drive and motivation. That is what creates that type of warrior it is what makes them become what they do. It is no different than top tier professional athletes or CEOs of companies. Ego is part of the success story and the drive of the person. It was amazing at how this attitude came across in the book and because of that I believe that the story was told in an honest manner as best as the storyteller could recall and present the facts as he recalled them.

Overall it was an interesting book and I liked reading it. I did feel that the writing was not up to professional standards especially the beginning as I found it to be choppy. I read a good book called Blackhawk Down which I thought was written much better. That being said I still enjoyed Seal Team Six and I rated it 4 stars.

I would like to give thanks Mr. Wasdin for his dedication to the USA and the military and the bravery that he exhibited in his service to our country. It is men like him that help to keep this country free.
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on June 28, 2011
Wasdin has a compelling life story which he tells through anecdotes from childhood, through his SEAL training, and his various deployments. The chapters about his sniper training and the experiences in Somalia, I found of most interest. It's not especially polished writing, but that's sort of expected in this particular genre. I did find the blatant product placemnt throughout the book rather annoying. So obvious that it would make me stop reading and think "Geez, here he goes again pimping a product". By my reckoning Swiss Army knife, SIG SAUER firearms, and Oakley sunglasses get the most mentions, followed by Spyderco knife, Vuarnet sunglasses, Royal Robbins pants, and a couple more which appear just once each.
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