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The Guerrilla Factory: The Making of Special Forces Officers, the Green Berets Hardcover – November 13, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When America needed a significant military response, especially after 9/11, Schwalm says the first line of security against terror was the warriors of counterinsurgency warfare, the U.S. Army Special Forces, i.e., the Green Berets. The author, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Green Berets who terms these Special Forces soldiers  supermen without equal in the world, details their rigorous training to be killing machines,  beginning with his own difficult passage through the qualification,, or Q, course, at Ft. Bragg, N.C.. Schwalm details the harsh, even brutal contests of physical endurance, will, and tactical resourcefulness of the grunts, driving some soldiers to quit or feign injury to get out of the training. Schwalm himself served as commander of Special Forces officer training, acknowledging the importance of battle-tested guerrilla troops ready for multiple combat deployments throughout the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Forged by experience and headline events from flashpoints around the world, Schwalm's insider perspective on the training for unconventional warfare gives his book a fresh, authentic voice. Agent: James Hornfischer. (Nov.)

Review

“Even in an age of high-tech warfare, America will always need dedicated warrior-diplomats who can both confront our enemies and work with allies in an effort to create peace. Tony Schwalm has written a gritty, muscular, compelling account of what it takes to join the ranks of America’s elite warrior-diplomats, the Green Berets. This is not just a memoir by a top soldier, leader, and scholar—it is a fine tale of courage, compassion, and selflessness from one of our country’s finest.” —Eric Greitens, New York Times bestselling author of The Heart and The Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL

"In The Guerilla Factory, Tony Schwalm offers a gripping insider's story of how America's elite warriors are made. From the terror of capture to the art of building an insurgent army, Schwalm's personal account takes you deep into the shadowy world of the Special Forces to reveal how Green Berets are picked, trained, and deployed in exotic places where the usual rules of warfare don't apply--where success is shrouded in secrecy and failure can mean death." (Jonathan W. Jordan bestselling author of Brothers Rivals Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnersh)

The Guerrilla Factory isn’t just an account of how Green Berets are made. It’s a highly personal, compellingly written and thought-provoking story of one man’s journey from conventional soldier to unconventional warrior. Tony Schwalm’s book is a page turner and an eye opener.” —Douglas Waller, New York Times betselling author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

“A crackling good read. Tony pulls in the reader by telling story after story. No theories here; instead, the book brings the reader into a world of hard work and never-ending treks. No wonder the Green Beret teams are known worldwide. They get the job done, and the author shows why. You're exhilarated at the end of this fast-paced narrative.” —Bing West, bestselling author of The Village

“This valuable book is full of great insights from a veteran Special Forces warrior on what it takes to make the cut in the Green Berets. It takes you inside the world of our elite SF warriors—and outside the gate on real-world ops.” —Jack Coughlin, coauthor of Shooter: The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper

“In this wonderfully written, candid personal account, Tony Schwalm reveals what makes Special Forces soldiers tick. Green Berets like to say that their most important weapon is between their ears. The Guerrilla Factory shows how they are selected and trained to get inside the heads of both friends and enemies. Schwalm also takes us downrange to hotspots in Haiti, Afghanistan and the Middle East.” —Linda Robinson, author of Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces

“A retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer provides a behind-the-scenes look at the physical, psychological and emotional toll one pays to join the ranks of America’s most elite fighting force. . . . An eye-opening, unconventional war story in which the war itself resides in the training.” Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451623607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451623604
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Inside Robin Sage!

"The Guerrilla Factory: The Making of Special Forces Officers, The Green Berets" by Tony Schwalm recounts his Special Forces career with a focus primarily on his training regime in memoir format. The book provides excellent insight into the process, theory, philosophy and concepts behind these elite US Army unconventional warriors. Although the author went through this training close to 20-years ago and many things have changed in the Special Forces training pipeline. However, all the salient points of the training remained the same.

This book highlights the unconventional warfare exercise "Robin Sage" in excellent detail. This exercise is over 40-years old and is the culmination of the Special Forces Qualification Course (Q-Course), all wears of the Green Beret have completed this exercise no matter if he is an officer or enlisted/NCO. "Robin Sage" is a 4 week long large-scale unconventional warfare exercise conducted by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and over 50,000 square miles of North Carolina. For more than half a century, around a third of North Carolina has served as the fictional "People's Republic of Pineland" for the exercise. During this exercise, the Special Forces students are required to apply and exercise the skills taught in the Special Forces Qualification Course. The students make an airborne infiltration into the country of Pineland. They then make contact with the guerrilla forces and begin "Robin Sage." Students will then begin their task of training, advising, and assisting the guerrillas. The training will educate the guerrillas in various specialties, including weapons, communications, medical, and demolitions.
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Format: Hardcover
I heartily recommend this book to SOF students. Tony writes a very good memoir full of lessons. He frames it within the two SOF schools of thought: Daniel Boone and Superman, accurately showing their costs and benefits. Frankly it amazes me how well he writes. I find it hard to believe a first-time published writer can write so well, but the book is proof. It's a keeper.
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Format: Hardcover
The Guerilla Factory takes you through the ordeals and trials -- emotional, logistical, and mental -- of training to be a Green Beret. Tony Schwalm does this in a way that captures the grit and purpose of the rigorous training, without romanticizing it. For example, he tells us right away that the "superman most Americans believe the SOF (Special Operations Forces) to be" are a small minority of even these elite units. And yes, you have to be mighty tough to survive the training.

Even if you don't usually read books about the military, the Guerilla Factory still makes for interesting reading. I was curious to learn more about the details of the training, because like most reasonably fit guys, I wondered if I could make it (answer: probably not; to survive, you have to really want it badly). But I was also interested in how the army builds an elite esprit de corps and devoted "employees." These tactics are valuable for any organization to know, even if you will never approach the extremes the Army does (the Army understands that their elite forces training will inevitably results in some deaths of trainees--something they let aspiring officers know about it up front.)

I was impressed with how well written The Guerilla Factory is. After all, Schwalm is a professional soldier, not a professional writer. Yet, he still had plenty of engaging turns of phrase (for example, referring to terrorists as "those who park airplanes in office towers") and tells a good story. And due to the nature of the training, there are lots of good stories.
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Format: Hardcover
As a retired SF Warrant Officer, I found the author's book well written and interesting. Things at the Special Warfare Center have changed alot since the 70's, however, the "Guerilla Factory" is still cranking out America's "...diplomat warrior's...", let the Nave Seals have all the glory, the quiet professionals, doing their work in the shadows may not garner many headlines, get as many medals, but there is nothing like mission accomplishment to give you job satisfaction.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written and candid look at the author's journey through Special Forces Selection, the Qualification Course, SERE School (best account I've read of this), and his eventual leadership position within 3rd Group of U.S. Army Special Forces. While much of the information is Officer specific, I'd highly recommend this to anyone contemplating a career in Special Forces or anyone interested in Special Forces in general.
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A fascinating look not just at the process of becoming a Green Beret, but a walk alongside someone as they go through it. Great insight into the whole SF world. Anyone who ever wanted to know what is like or is thinking about going Special Forces should read this book!
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Format: Hardcover
The book is more than a memoir, it is a textbook of the philosophy that drives a very misunderstood branch of our military. Great book.
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I am currently about half way through this book and have to admit that I am enjoying it very much. At first I didn't think I was going to like this but after getting into it grabbed me because of the honesty with which it was written. Tony Schwalm has a great sense of humor and allows the reader to get into his head. It is also gives you an inside look as to how special our special force personnel are. I would recommend this book.
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