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Level Zero Heroes: The Story of U.S. Marine Special Operations in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan Hardcover – September 2, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 518 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Level Zero Heroes proves that great warriors aren't minted from any one branch of service. Michael's story is a testament to the hard men of MARSOC who have contributed significantly both on and off the battlefield since the attacks of Sept. 11th, 2001. Semper Fi brothers.” ―Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL, Editor of SOFREP, and New York Times bestselling author of The Red Circle

“'A warning shot with a B-1'-- A direct quote taken out of Level Zero Heroes that has more precision than the author possibly could ever imagine. Golembesky and Bruning took a real world account of some of America's best and brightest and wrote a story that will capture the mind of any military enthusiast. From the expeditious bond of brotherhood to the horrors of poor Rules of Engagement to the appreciation of a select group of Afghan intelligence officials, this book covers so much more than a mere deployment in Afghanistan. A B-1 doesn't do warning shots, it blows things to smithereens. This book is like a B-1-it will blow your mind!” ―Kerry Patton, author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

“An intimate and unprecedented look into the mysterious, high-speed lifestyle of the U.S. military's newest special operations force, Level Zero Heroes is a heart-pounding exploration of the Marines' bare-knuckle fight for Bala Murghab, a treacherous wasteland in Afghanistan's Wild West.” ―Andrew deGrandpre, Marine Corps Times

“Semper Fi! Level Zero Heroes is a riveting, fast paced account of Marine Operators in combat in Afghanistan. Inspiring & insightful look into the new world of Marine Corps Special Operations, I was absolutely hooked from the first page to the last. I'm glad Ski and his fellow team members are on our side.” ―Sean Parnell, New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon

“An unflinchingly honest account of a war run for other reasons than victory. Level Zero Heroes is a testament to American warriors who stepped forward to fight with honor and win. This is our generation's Catch 22.” ―Jack Coughlin, New York Times bestselling author of Shooter

“Golembesky vividly depicts the engagement, which became known as Operation Hero Recovery and involved vicious ground combat....controversial.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The author writes perceptively about the complex social environment of Afghanistan…. The depictions of combat are precise regarding weapons and tactics but also jargon-heavy, giving the action a video game feel.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Readers who enjoy first-person accounts of battles laced with nonstop action will have a tough time putting this one down.” ―Library Journal

About the Author

STAFF SERGEANT MICHAEL GOLEMBESKY served 8 years with the United States Marine Corps and is a combat veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Golembesky served as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller with Marine Special Operation Team 8222 (MARSOC).

JOHN R. BRUNING is the author or collaborating writer on sixteen non-fiction books, including the bestseller Outlaw Platoon, House to House, Shadow of the Sword and The Devil's Sandbox: With the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry at War in Iraq.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250030404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250030405
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (518 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

From the Publisher

Sean Parnell Talks with Michael Golembesky about Level Zero Heroes

Two combat veterans from polar-ends of Pennsylvania turned authors, Sean Parnell of Outlaw Platoon (from Pittsburgh) and Michael Golembesky of Level Zero Heroes (from Philadelphia) have a candid talk about the first book to tell the story of Marine Corps Special Operations.

Michael Golembesky in Afghanistan

SP: So you root for the Pittsburg Penguins, Steelers?

MG: No. Flyers and the Eagles, even when they suck, which seems to be all the time now.

SP: You promised your team members that if you lived through the experience, you'd share their story with America. What do you most hope to convey?

MG: Hope and Courage. This book gives the American people an uncanny look, not only into the little known world of Marine Special Operations, but also a blunt and unapologetic look at the Afghan War. I want readers to walk away with a better understanding of the war and what these men had to endure from both the enemy and from within. This book was written in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are a member of the team, drawing their own conclusions, knowing what it’s like to be ambushed and to feel the heat from a 2,000 pound bomb detonating 200 meters away.

SP: MARSOC is the Marines’ Special Operations unit and not much has been written on them. Why is that, what makes them unique among spec ops groups?

MG: What makes them unique? They are Marines, enough said. (haha) The Marine Corps officially joined and began operating under U. S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in 2006, so it is relatively new as compared to Navy SEAL, CAG and Army Special Forces. Although MARSOC teams have been operating heavily in Afghanistan since then, the right story has just not surfaced, until now. The story of Marine Special Operations Team 8222 is nothing short of amazing.

SP: Leaving no man behind is an important ideology in America's military and a big part of the story of LZH. What does it mean to you, specifically?

MG: When the 82nd Airborne lost two of our paratroopers while trying to secure pallets of supplies from an airdrop that had blown off course, nothing could stand in our way to recover their bodies; even as the Taliban threw everything they had at us. No one gets left behind, no one.

Sean Parnell

SP: In your opinion, what's the biggest thing civilians don't understand about what it's like in to be in the middle of a firefight?

MG: Fear. Overcoming it, using your commitment and responsibility to protect your brothers on the left and right of you; using that to rise above the fear and to crush the enemy on their own turf, in the rain, the mud, subfreezing temperatures and stifling heat, the Taliban and America’s enemies don’t own the fight, we do.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
LEVEL ZERO HEROES is one of but a handful of first account books of combat in Iraq & Afghanistan I've read to date. Generally, I prefer to wait for time to pass and history to sort out the actual details. But what I'm finding is that, given the nature of communication in the current age, authors are able to compile information and accurately recreate events much faster and often with greater detail than in past conflicts. And Michael Golembesky's memoir is a perfect example of just that.
As a chronicle of combat in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, Golembesky gives us insight into the daily lives of his MARSOC (Marine Special Operations Command) unit (i.e. Force Recon Marines), their interaction among themselves, Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel stationed alongside, as well as the US Army's 82nd Airborne and local dignitaries - and, of course, the ever present Taliban.
In doing so, we're made privy to the bonds formed in battle (and the bitterness). The bonds with his brothers in arms, the bitterness toward the local dignitaries (whose loyalty I a always in question), as well as the overall Battalion Commander (an 82nd Airborne Colonel). The Battalion Commander because he all too often seems preoccupied with "cooperating" with the locals at the expense - and sometimes the safety - of those under his command.
Coupled with the insane Rules of Engagement and you have a very sound picture of the way our nation fights it's wars these days - and perhaps why we're still fighting there 13 years later. But what stands out above all else is Golebesky's (or Ski's) forthright manner in telling the story. He pulls no punches. Makes no excuses. And fumes right along with the reader at the insanity of it all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I received this book yesterday on my Kindle and read the entire book. This is a real life story on the war in Afghanistan and allows the American People to understand what is actually taking place in this country. While it gives us the truth about how the political agenda is, it gives an even better account what our troops give to our Country. God Bless our Troops for their service. Thanks to Michael Golembesky for writing this account of his service to our country.
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Format: Hardcover
Couldn't put it down! I was Transported into the field with these incredible men and could feel what they felt- a page turner that I didn't want to end. Marine special op have a tough enough time but this gives insight as to the real life frustrations! No candy coated view but an amazing story of these brave Marines that just blew my mind ! You think you know ? You really don't until you read this account -This book should be made into a movie - it will rock your socks !
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Format: Hardcover
Level Zero Heroes is a very personal story of a Marine assigned to a MARSOC (U.S Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command) unit deployed to Afghanistan as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). SSGT Golembesky's job was to coordinate with air assets in support of his team. It is a fast paced and gritty book that brings to the reader a vivid picture of the battlefield in which they fought. SSGT Golembesky spares no punches (but protects the IDs) describing the frequent idiocy of battlefield politics and the courageous men who endured under very hazardous conditions. A very good book and intimate portrayal of modern warfare in all its glory and flaws.
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By dmcgill0311 on September 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Golembesky hit a home run with this one. In the beginning I enjoyed reading about his perspective coming into MARSOC and being thrown onto a team as an outsider (he was a JTAC, not an operator). Also how he navigated the very close-knit team dynamic he encountered during the work up, and how he had to prove himself worthy to the guys. The author strikes me as an introverted, reflective, deeply compassionate warrior who has a strong moral base and it showed in his writing. At times in the book it was all I could do but shake my head at the TYPICAL bone-headed officers who haven't a clue about combat and put people's lives at risk ignorantly. The WORST type of officer you can have leading a unit in combat is one worried about his next promotion. In all, an outstanding tribute to all the warriors we have lost in the Bala Murghab Valley. If it weren't for guys like Golembesky and his brothers doing such skilled work surely they would have taken a lot more casualties. Hey Ski, Semper Fi brother.
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By AmazonBuya on September 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book that shows what is going on in Afghanistan. I've read several books about the SOF and their missions, and I have yet found a book that wasn't only about being a jarhead or how tough and better they were because of their extra training. Instead he focuses on telling what is going on Afghanistan and how the corruption, bad leaders, and the ROE are making it impossible for the soldiers to do their job. He also shows us that top tier operators are humans too, and they bleed, get emotional, lose focus, and make mistakes. In the end, Afghanistan is just a hopeless place that won't get better with anything. You will understand this better once you read the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is AMAZING!! I bought it and read it all within 24 hours. I'm going to reread it again I enjoyed it that much. Once you order it go to page 251 and check out the bonus stuff. It's truly a cool experience. Ski did a WONDERFUL job writting this. I waited three years for this book and couldn't be happier. Great War read. HIGHLY recommend for the love of god buy it.
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