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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2011
"When the navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six, the navy's equivalent to the army's Delta Force --- tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, occasionally working with the CIA. This is the first time a SEAL Team Six sniper's story has been exposed. My story."

Thus begins SEAL TEAM SIX, a stunning and timely memoir written by former elite Navy SEAL sniper Howard E. Wasdin, along with Stephen Templin. The opening paragraph above starts Wasdin's story and how he grew up to become the top sniper in the military's most elite and respected group. From the very first page, Wasdin brings you deep inside his experiences and the mindset he had while training for the military. He was a natural to the sniper role --- able to become one with the ground and part of the dirt, and remain hidden from enemy view in order to get off a critical shot that could make or break that particular skirmish.

Wasdin states that the sniper tries to avoid looking directly at the target. It's amazing that his skills were so finely honed that he could hit any target without even making direct eye contact. The book jumps early between Wasdin's military training and his childhood. He describes going through Hell Week, a boot camp where the motto was "Train the best, discard the rest." Unfortunately, Wasdin's early years were not much different. Abandoned by his birth father, he was raised by a tough mother and her live-in boyfriend --- soon to be his new stepfather. Leon was a disciplinarian who was especially hard on him, making for a not-so-peaceful home life. It's easy to see how this upbringing toughened Wasdin up and prepared him for the extreme tests that the rest of his life had in store for him.

The SEALs were a special brotherhood of soldiers who were proud of the fact that none of their kind was ever taken prisoner, and they vowed always to leave no man behind. Wasdin takes his role in the SEALs extremely seriously, and curiously enough he does not have kind words for former SEAL turned author Richard Marcinko, who he and his fellow SEALs all feel exploited their experiences for Marcinko's own personal gain.

In Sniper School, Wasdin was taught the mantra "The more you train in peace, the less you bleed in war." While he had his wartime opportunity with experience during Operation Desert Storm, this was nothing compared to the big event that nearly cost him his life. The SEAL Team Six group was called into the Battle of Mogadishu to take on a rebellious and out-of-control village of Somalians who had captured and killed some Black Hawk pilots who had been shot down over their village. This was the same battle so brutally portrayed in the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down. Wasdin's telling of this fight depicts a horrific and chaotic mess where even his team of elite fighters was taken by surprise.

They perform heroically and make a difference in rescuing one of the downed pilots. Unfortunately, Wasdin also suffers two vicious gunshot wounds to each of his legs. His biggest fear is that he is going to have a leg amputated. He fights hard while the hospital in Germany to where he was flown tries to put him under and prepare him for potential life-saving surgery.

SEAL TEAM SIX tells a great saga about a highly determined and patriotic man who gave his all for his country and continues to pay it forward by helping people with his chiropractic practice. I cannot say enough good things about this very well-told and thoroughly engaging memoir.

--- Reviewed by Ray Palen
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
This book gives you a good insider view of what it's like being in the elite SEAL Team Six. It is brutal and it is enlightening. While it appeals to the action-crazy boy inside me, it is more than that. It has a lot of interesting details about the other operations in the past, and things we normal citizens don't even think about. The lives these men lead and the things they do to get there is not pretty. An exciting and entertaining book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2011
I won't talk much about the annoying product placements; those have been written about enough. Just know that if you're planning on reading this book (and you should), you will see them, they will annoy you, and then you'll forget about them quickly.

So far, there has only been one review complaining about the 'glorification of cold-blooded killers'. First off, I somehow doubt that reviewer has read the book, only because if you are someone who believes Navy SEALs are 'cold-blooded killers', you wouldn't be too interested in purchasing a book entitled "SEAL Team Six". Aside from this, war is a fact of life. It's unfortunate, but I'm reminded of the Orwell quote, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." It's easy to gripe about violence from your reading chair, safe and sound, protected by these so-called 'anti-heroes'. These men are heroes, through and through. Sometimes they make mistakes because they're human, but they should be commended for doing the things that most of us can't stomach.

Wasdin has obtained a Silver Star, among numerous other awards. He is the very definition of hero. The most exciting chapter of the book for me was the Battle of Mogadishu, but the most telling is what came after. Too often, our heroes come back from war broken men, unaccepted and misunderstood by the very communities that they protect. I was glad to see Wasdin pull through and I hope his book brings others in similar situations hope.

Read this book if you are interested in the SEALs, DEVGRU, Special Ops in general, heroism, another personal narrative from the Battle of Mogadishu and other Somali ops, or military history in general. A great book (product placements aside).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
Having just finished this read, I found it took something to keep going. The author is all about himself and after reading several books about our Special Ops in various times and places I found this book as one of the worst on the subject. Mr. Wasdin is running on ego with not much substance. Save your money.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2011
This is a great man book that is much worth the asking price. I have the kindle edition. The content is beyond interesting. If you use the Kindle for pc software some of the pages cut off but read it on our Kindle device or Android edition,it won't do that. If you have a Kindle I think you would still love to have the book itself. It's a keeper.

The variety of training Mr. Wasdin goes through in his career is what dreams are made of. Few people can hack the training. Wasdin opens himself on a personal basis which makes this unique from other Navy Seal accounts. It keeps the material from being too static.

Also the book reveals how politics can ruin a good military spec ops program, easily as well as any effect the program had re a particular op. The Clinton Administration collapsed under these guys. I hope lessons can be learned from mistakes made that were revealed here by those who try to get in the way of military specialized op groups politically or implode under them.

This will raise your patriotic factor a few notches, pucker factor too for a book read at certain points, especially if you imagine yourself in these situations.

Thanks to Mr. Wasdin for his part in protecting we American people and our international aid efforts, and for sharing his life as an open book, no pun intended. I might just read this again. Oh yea. Dont wait, go ahead and get this one. You wont regret it. He has a new career now. Check that out.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2011
This was a very inspirational book, not just for the tales of courage in battle, but for Wasdin's capacity for introspection. While his "macho" bona fides are clearly beyond question, he also shows a more emotional side that ultimately enables him to overcome a tough childhood and find happiness as an adult. That is a good lesson and one that is more within the average person's ability to emulate than Wasdin's feats of physical prowess. Is this the most well-written book in the world? No, but it really doesn't have to be and seems more genuine as it is. Many reviewers have mentioned the apparent product placements for various gear in the book. I found these references amusing though a little odd, but I'm not sure he was necessarily paid for them. If you grew up as he did without many brand-name material possessions, it is not so far fetched that you might fetishize these things, especially given that the tools of the trade for a SEAL can mean the difference between life and death. When I bought this book, my expectation bar was high, set by "Lone Survivor," another SEAL tale. This book wasn't always as gripping as that book, though the part about the Battle of Mogadishu certainly was, but it succeeded in other ways that, to me, give it a worthy place in the pantheon of books about war/soldiers. I would also strongly recommend all of James Hornfischer's 3 books on WWII naval battles, as well as "Unbreakable" by Laura Hillenbrand.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2011
This book is written to take advantage of the SEAL Team Six mystique. A rather boring and choppy read lacking any sort of in depth information regarding this elite group. It plods through from the mundane to the occasional "op". The writing is mediocre at best-freshman level high school. Read the much "Rogue Warrior" instead - something that Wasdin should have done prior to writing his account. At least you will better understand SEAL's and Team Six through their much maligned leader (and hated by SEAL's at least by Wasdin) Dick Marcinko. At least he writes with flair and accuracy and tells tales of ops that detail the true nature of commando warfare.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
If you are looking for a book that will allow you to understand the Navy's Seal program, check the other reviews here for another book - I cannot recommend this one.

Caveat: I don't usually read books about war and soldiers - this is one of a small number I have read. However, I know a man who was a Navy seal, though more recently than Wasdin, and already knew some things about the training.

Pros: Author does describe some of the training to give you an understanding of how strenuous it is and how many people who start Hell week are unable to finish it. It was also interesting to read about how the abuse the author suffered as a child might have made him better able to endure the stresses of being a Seal. (I use the word "might" - Wasdin mentioned it so many times he obviously regarded it as "did" -almost like it worked out great for him, and I'm undecided on that.)

The author wrote that he struggled emotionally after the first time that he knew he himself had killed an individual, and for that I was glad. The tone of the book was very egotistical throughout unfortunately, but it was good to hear that he did some soul searching after this incident.

The book gives the reader an understanding of the types of missions that Seal teams do and gives one perspective on the disaster in Mogadishu.

The author admits in several places that his Seal team was more important than his family. I admire him for admitting this painful truth. That might be inevitable given what Seals are called on to do in terms of both constant training and operations. However, if someone has a job that is that demanding they should not be having children they are unable to parent. They can always wait until they are older and have more stable lives to bring kids into the world. Having kids and then leaving your spouse to take all the responsibility for raising them is unfair to your spouse and to your kids both.

CONS: The author wrote with enthusiasm and pride about beatings of fight seeking rednecks, police officers, and others. While I don't have a lot of sympathy for fight seeking rednecks, beating someone is assault and is illegal and in this case was totally unnecessary. Wasdin and his buddies told their driver to pull over specifically so they could assault the rednecks. The assault of the police officers was even more disturbing. The military teaches respect for authorities and the Seal I know would never have assaulted a police officer. It bothered me a great deal that Wasdin bragged about these instances. I hope that he will one day re-examine these instances and see that they were not things to brag about.

As stated above in Pros, if you have a job that is all consuming and keeps you from home for long stretches of time, I think it's immoral and cruel to bring children into the world then leave their raising to your spouse. In this day and age we have the scientific knowledge to plan when to have children, and purposefully having a child when you aren't ready to give that child the parenting they deserve is cruel to that child.

The reference to various brands of sunglasses, knives and boots really stick out as odd. I can only guess that the author was hoping to get an endorsement deal out of them because they were so irrelevant - and when he wrote the book did he really remember that he was wearing Ray Bans while on the deck of a certain ship at a certain time?

Mogadishu: My heart goes out to all our military people who suffered in the Black Hawk Down episode in Mogadishu and to the families of those who died. Reading the author's account of what happened there gave me a little bit of an understanding of how it went so bad - communications issues and failure to understand how well trained and well armed the militia controlled by the local warlord was. However, the numerous criticisms of President Clinton and one ugly statement about Clinton bothered me because the author admits communication problems resulted in deaths in the battle, but then blames the President, who was half a world away relying on what he was being told by the military, for decisions the author disagreed with. While the author knew the situation on the ground, he didn't necessarily know all the many things that intelligence agencies and military authorities knew and were telling President Clinton so the conclusions he blithely draws about Clinton are unwarranted and I believe he owes Clinton and apology for one of his harshest statements - that Clinton put politics ahead of the lives of service members.

It is ironic that the part of the book that I found to be most informative, the Mogadishu section, was also the section that led me to conclude that I could not recommend this book to anyone.

My final criticism of this book is of one simple sentence in which he states that his (first) wife was pregnant for the third time, then tells readers not only that the baby wasn't his, but that the baby's father was of another race. The race of the biological father really isn't relevant and the statement about it comes across as rather ugly. This is followed by a short statement about how he had been unfaithful. If he was going to bring up the fact that his wife was pregnant due to sex with someone else, then he owed it to her and to the readers to explain more about his own unfaithfulness which until then had gone unmentioned. And there is no serious contrition evident in his comment about being unfaithful. The only real remorse he showed was about his failure to be there for his children for so much of their early years - nothing about how hard a life his spouse must have had and how hard it must have been emotionally for her to have him gone so much and not know where he was and what he was doing. These were in the pre-internet days so they likely didn't have many opportunities to even talk on the phone as he travelled around the world.

I have more books that I want to read than I have time to read, and some day would like to read a book about Mogadishu that is well regarded by impartial and qualified critics, but it may be years before I am unable to do so.
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