Most helpful positive review
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Good but not great
on December 10, 2009
This book is an enjoyable and very attractively constructed , if light, read with a great selection of photos unique to this publication. Unfortunately this is not the all encompassing history of the Navy SEALs that many people are waiting for, despite the fact that it has been marketed as such. The author, a former Army Ranger, has an impressive amount of access to many current and former SEALs and imbues the book with a sense of camaraderie seldom found from those from outside the military community who have attempted to document other special operations units in the American military.
The broad strokes are all there for the pre-Iraq and Afghanistan era with nothing of significance to note or add to the record. To put it simply, this is not a scholarly work on the overall history of the SEAL community so expect a basic "rah-rah go team" rehash of already available material on Vietnam and ops in the 80's and 90's. The book also has a glaring gap in its coverage of the SEALs contemporary operations. As the author is neither a journalist nor an academic the homework on most ops is confined to the material "approved for disclosure" by the powers that be at the Pentagon. While this is excusable from a security stand point it does leave the average reader wondering at the obviously massive gaps in narrative. The publication date of the book also leaves out the most significant events of post invasion Iraq and the on going "small wars" stuff from Afghanistan. After the high speed, low drag invasion ops the narrative goes blank. In other words most of the down and dirty counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations of 2004-2010 are simply absent. This glaring absence is buffered with pictures of guns and more "rah-rah" material on how SEALs are "training to be the best" and the usual jazz.
Still, the book's strong point is its series of riveting and original anecdotes and sea stories from current SEALs and recent vets. The verbatim recital of interviews conducted by the author that are sprinkled throughout the text are savagely honest and up front and range from intense to hilarious. Those of us who have served in the military will immediately recognize the honest parlance of these SEALs, uninhibited by a Public Affairs office, the DoD censors and the contextually ignorant Monday Morning media. For nothing more than these original interviews (and photos) I'd recommend the book at paperback price.