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Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit Paperback – August 30, 2005
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USA Today: "Nonstop, page-turning drama... brilliant narrative." He is a master of espionage, trained to take on hijackers, terrorists, and enemy armies. He can survive alone in hostile cities. Speak foreign languages fluently. Strike at enemy targets with stunning swiftness. He is the ultimate modern warrior: the Delta Force operator. In this dramatic behind-the-scenes chronicle, Eric Haney, one of the founding members of Delta Force, takes us inside this legendary counterterrorist unit. Here for the first time are details of the grueling selection process - designed to break the strongest of men - that singles out the best of the best. With heart-stopping immediacy, Haney tells what it's really like to enter a hostage-held airplane. From fighting guerrilla warfare in Honduras to rescuing missionaries in Sudan and leading the way onto the island of Grenada, Eric Haney captures the daring and discipline that distinguish the men of Delta Force while he puts us in the middle of action that is sudden, frightening, and nonstop around the world. The Washington Post: "[An] excellent account [that] resonates especially in the context of today's war on terrorism."
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I actually just used the Audible version of this and was intrigued with the subject matter.
Was blown away by what I learned (i.e. that operatives were taught by thieves or were trained to live as practical terrorists). Very cool!
It also gave some really cool behind the scenes details of missions/operations from around the world.
Listening to it as one big story was a great experience. I felt connected to the people and could visualize the journey!
As a memoir, there's no real formal plot to follow, but Haney does a great job of creating a narrative flow that makes sense. The reader is guided through the creation of Delta Force from the perspective of a member seeking admission. Readers learn about how the selection process works gradually, just like Haney does as he's going through it. Once on the force, Haney guides the reader through the intense training required to prepare for real-world missions. Finally, Haney takes the reader through several early Delta Force missions, demonstrating how all the selection and training was essential to creating a team that was able to effectively respond to worldwide threats.
I'm not a military buff, and I appreciated that the book was written in such a way that was accessible to me. I learned enough about the military to properly frame the events described, but not so much that it was completely overwhelming and took away from the narrative. Additionally, much of what Haney describes with respect to discipline, training, honor, dedication, etc. is not limited to military life -- these principles are directly applicable in business settings or anyone's personal life. From that standpoint, there is much in that book that is generally inspirational.
As I read, I highlighted several passages. Haney's matter-of-fact observation on winning versus losing battles struck me as interesting and true: "In combat, there are no winners. The victors just happen to lose less than the vanquished." The book is full of statements like that, where Haney makes an observation and moves on without getting mired in attempting to discuss deep philosophy.
Haney's observation on how to improve an organization struck me as applicable to a business setting as to the military: "There is no better way for an organization to improve itself and move forward in a professional manner. But it is a process that must be fundamentally rooted in trust and mutual respect. The very instant it becomes a weapon rather than a lens for diagnostic analysis, the process is dead." This observation was made after describing the process of an "after-action review" where "each man's actions were gone over in complete detail... mistakes were analyzed and successful methods were noted." It seems that Delta Force was able to successfully perform self-analysis -- including detailed examination of errors -- without using that analysis as a way to punish the low performers. This is how teams are successfully built and strengthened, and is something that the business world would do well to take note of.
Finally, one of my favorite quotes from the book came as Haney discusses the problems encountered when decisions were made and/or overruled by top officials who didn't have a good understanding of what was actually happening: "Nothing is impossible for those who don't actually have to do it." I see this mentality all the time.
A note about the Kindle edition: the book contains a selection of photographs. For the print version, I don't know how the photos are presented in the book, but it's somewhat awkward in the Kindle version. They photos are stuck at the very back of the text, with no explanation or indication that they are there, and appear to simply be a direct representation of the photo page. I think the formatting of those photos could be improved. As far as the text goes, it was formatted for the Kindle just fine.
Do I recommend this book? Unquestionably yes.
"The great military novels have about them an ineffable air of sadness. [They] seem, both in scenes of combat and in the scenes of rest, depictions of a life heightened to the plateau of regret, longing, and loss. The great military memoirs, similarly, are a record of loss and its transmutation into compassion. [...] in Eric Haney's Inside Delta Force, we are welcomed into the curious, moving and persuasive philosophy of the soldier trying to find wisdom in defeat and humility in victory."
It's a comment that reflects the spirit of the contents, and which ultimately translates into the very cool TV series based on the book. I also admit, quite without shame that the characters of 'Phantom Strike Team' in my novel 'Fontaine' were definitely inspired by this account, which I found fascinating and quite un-put-downable; much like Michael Durant's 'In The Company of Heroes'.
I have no idea how 'real' and 'true' the things depicted here are, because I have no real evidence to back up whatever I believe. However, I would like to think--possibly wishfully, but why not?--that Orwell's 'rough men [who] stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm' aren't just a bunch of thugs, who just like to shoot people, but that they are like those guys; that they are grounded and have a sense of purpose, and that Mamet's comments are on the mark.
Again, without evidence for the 'truth', whatever that may be, I cannot tell; but I choose to think that Haney has done more than just show them in the best light; that even in the harsh light of day, it all basically holds true.