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.
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.
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.
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.
-- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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.
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.
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.