on June 20, 2007
This book is a compelling, easy read that you will find hard to put down. The first part takes you through SEAL training in Coronado, CA and gives you a deep appreciation for just how hard it is to become a SEAL, while the second half takes you through a harrowing battle that in many ways validates just why the SEAL selection and training process is so difficult and so effective.
The battle sequence in Afghanistan and its aftermath is incredibly intense . The best screen writer in Hollywood couldn't have dreamt up something more intense, moving, and awe inspiring. If they make it into a movie it will in some ways be like a Afghani inspired version of Full Metal Jacket.
Reading this fills one with humility and gratitude for the sacrifice that all the members of our armed services make on our behalf, but especially for the men of the SEAL teams. All I can say is that I am very glad they are on our side.
As an aside, if you enjoy books like this you should check out Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab, an SAS operative who served in the first Iraq war. I found it highly ironic that in both cases great misfortune results from acts of human mercy that elite soldiers felt compelled to take despite the clear risk it posed to their own lives. These books should be required reading for anyone who questions the character and moral fiber of such brave men.
on May 15, 2011
This book was recommended to me by someone I deeply respect. I'm not a military person so I have no basis of relativity here but suffice it to say I am proud to be an American and have guys such as this doing what they do best.
I read this book in one day. Start to finish. I couldn't put the thing down. It's that intriguing. You often hear about the SEALs but never really get to hear stories (or at least I don't) about the operations they go on. Yeah, they're dangerous but that's about all you get. You hear about their training and how they've gone through hell and back and the need to prepare but you don't really understand why. Maybe that's just me being a naive civilian (I'm sure other military folks understand firsthand) but I can tell you, reading this book gave me a much different perspective on what an "operation" is.
Again, I'm not a military buff. I've thought the military is absolutely something we need but this book isn't about rah-rah-rah go America, it's about the journey of one man - Marcus Luttrell - from his pre-training days, through the BUD/S training, then right on into Operation Redwing which brought him and his team into one of the most fierce battles I've ever read or heard about.
This story makes you want to cheer and cry at the same time. I turned the last page and was awestruck. Proud to be part of a country where Service, Loyalty, Honesty and Integrity still mean something and that we have a duty to thank and remember our military service members.
Coming face-to-face with Taliban and having to survive - sometimes with a bit of luck (maybe this is a higher power watching down, who knows) - six days in the backcountry, seeing your team members KIA, I can't even imagine it. Marcus Luttrell and his fallen comrades deserve every ounce of respect, including those still serving.
For those reading this, should you buy this book? Absolutely. I can say without a doubt it's a nail-biting, page-turning, harrowing experience that I think every person should read. Doesn't matter which side of the political fence you sit on, all political BS aside, everyone should read this - it's a perspective that only comes from someone who's experienced it firsthand.
No one likes war and reading this isn't about agreeing or disagreeing with Iraq, Afghanistan or the wars to come, it's about understanding what it takes to do what it takes to survive, to never give up, to have the courage and strength both physically and mentally to do what you have to do. Sometimes we get caught up in our own little battles in our own little world but all it takes is something like this story to really give you a true perspective on things.
Turning the last page (and seeing the pictures at the end, and I wish there were more of them), made me reaffirm that my family, wife and kids are the most important things in my life and that I love this country. We fight because there are those who will try and take it away if we don't. Never give up.
So, now that I've stepped off my soapbox, would I buy this book. Oh yeah I would.
on June 12, 2007
This book takes you inside the Navy SEALs training program in Coronado. You are with Marcus Luttrell throughout BUD/S and Hell Week. You fly with him and his teammates in a C-130 to the Hindu Kush, where the hunt begins for bin Laden's right-hand man. But then it all goes terribly wrong, up there in the mountains of Afghanistan.
This book, written by Patrick Robinson, reads like a fast-paced thriller, told in Marcus's understated voice. It is a rivetting, important, sad story of lost friends, valor, courage and the intricacies of modern war. It is an important book, destined to become an American classic.
on June 21, 2007
Apparently some people are upset because Luttrell has an opinion and some attitude. I'll let you in on a little known secret...one does not survive any severe challenge without strong opinions and attitude. It is part of the man, therefore a required part of "his" story. Even if you still have your John Kerry bumper sticker still super-glued to your car and you truly believe in the vast right-wing conspiracy, you should buy this book for what it is, an amazing (and true) story and a great read. Stop pushing the liberal or conservative agenda for awhile and just be an appreciative American. Luttrell is the real deal.
on July 9, 2007
Right before I bought this book, I heard all the promotional "buzz" and "word of mouth" associated with it. When I started reading it, after the first 60-70 pages, which were kind of boring, I was saying to myself, "woe, were they really talking about this book, it's kind of boring!" Then we got to Navy Seal training. Ladies and Gentlemen, (Future readers.) I recommend you fasten your seat belts, fasten your chest harness, and it probably is good advice, to put a pillow behind your neck to protect you from whiplash! This story, then rockets non-stop for the next 320 pages. I'm a U.S. Veteran, and I thought my basic training was pretty tough. But after reading this book, I realize, I probably wasn't in basic training, I was on some kind of holiday, and instead of cussing out my drill instructor every night, I should have been sending him candy and flowers. Basic Seal training is tough, but they're just getting warmed up with some basics, such as: "they just bound our ankles together and then bound our wrists together behind our backs and shoved us into the deep end (Of the pool). This caused a certain amount of panic, but our instructions were clear: Take a huge gulp of air and drop to the bottom of the pool in the standing position. Hold it there for at least a minute, bob up for new air, then drop back down for another minute, or more if you could." All along the way, the instructors are declaring that most of the potential Seals won't be here at graduation, they'll either be thrown out, or quit. (Note: Only 30 of the original 180 made it!) A number of these highly motivated seamen dropped out during basic Seal training, and now.. And now... we get to "HELL WEEK"! I will attempt to briefly summarize "Hell Week" for you. What these cream of the crop, young American men, are put through, is hard to fathom. It is past inhumane. I'm surprised some politically correct ACLU representative isn't present, suing the Navy, but this is the only way to train the "best of the best"! And it's this training, that probably saved Marcus's life, in his ordeal in Afghanistan. 0500. "Give me 20 pushups! Go run into the freezing ocean in combat boots and fatigues. Get out of the ocean and roll around in the sand. (This will be referred to from here on out as getting "wet and sandy"!) Give me 20 more pushups. Now go on a multi-mile run down the beach, in soft or wet sand, with a million sand particles in your combat boots, and stuck in every crevice of your body, thereby acting like the most abrasive sand paper you'll ever have administered to your body. Oh you want to eat breakfast, well jump back in the freezing ocean, get out of the ocean, roll around in the sand (Getting "wet and sandy") run the couple of miles back (all in an accepted maximum time, or you're out of the Seals!) Give me 20 pushups! Now you can eat. Now pickup a log the size of a telephone pole. Run into the same aforementioned ocean (While still carrying the log!) Come out of the ocean. Get "wet and sandy". Give me 20 pushups. Do it again. Now pick up a boat and run down the beach. Put the boat in the water, turn it over and fill it with water, bring it back to shore. Get "wet and sandy"! Give me 20 pushups. Now get in the boat with your teammates and row backwards through the waves. Then turn around and paddle backwards through the waves. Hit the beach and get "wet and sandy"! Now I'll fast forward to diving drills in the pool. Wearing full diving gear, with heavy air tanks, jump in the pool, but your feet cannot touch bottom. If they touch bottom you're out of the Seals! To keep you company under water, there are friendly Seal instructors, pulling your masks off, pushing down on your back, and other assorted friendly, efforts to assist you in drowning. But here's my favorite from this exercise. An instructor will rip your air hose off and tie it in a knot. You have to reach over your back, since you can't see the hose, and try to untie the knot without drowning. If you can't make it, you're kicked out of the Seals. There are so many more tortuous tasks, that literally go beyond human endurance. These young men, are dedicated, and committed to the United States of America, and go where people don't want to go, and do what must be done! My favorite quote from this book, that will live with me forever, was by the infamous instructor Reno, during training: "THE BODY CAN TAKE DAMN NEAR ANYTHING. IT'S THE MIND THAT NEEDS TRAINING!" I could go on and on, about this book, and I haven't even gotten to the indescribable battle for "Murphy's Ridge". Even though, to some people, the battle, and the deaths of Marcus's teammates, and Marcus's survival, is probably the most discussed part of this book. I will never forget, the dedication, desire, guts, pride, and total, (And I mean total!) commitment, and their stretching the envelope of human endurance, by these amazing young American's! As a U.S. veteran, I salute, and remain in unending awe, of these unique, gifted, dedicated, American heroes! "God Bless America!"
on August 25, 2008
Marcus Luttrell would like you to know three things:
1. He reveres the men who fought with him and died next to him in Afghanistan and would like their story known and remembered.
2. He believes that the Rules of Engagement that apply to US soldiers don't reflect the realities of war and ultimately cost his friends their lives.
3. He does not approve of the people in government that he believes are responsible for those rules and would like to see them discredited and removed from power.
Those points could have been driven home quite effectively in this book. Luttrell has an amazingly powerful story to tell and the narrative offers perfect opportunities to make each point in an unforgettable manner. However, Luttrell lets his emotions convince him to make the points out of order. I can't blame him; he's seen, heard and experienced too much and has come by his deep anguish and anger quite honestly. He can't wait for the right opportunity to make point #3 and hammers it home in the first two chapters of the book, without context and without varnish. The impact of the whole book is lessened by that decision.
Even an open-minded reader will be taken aback by Luttrell's attack on Liberals and the US military's Rules of Engagement without the benefit of knowing the source of his vitriolic anger. I suspect he loses a lot of readers before he can tell the story that would explain it all so vividly. That's too bad, because a lot of people would gain a new perspective on the points he's trying to make if they read about what he experienced in Afghanistan.
I really recommend that you read this book, pushing through the anger and pain-induced hatred and bigotry that is on display in the first couple of chapters. By continuing, you will get to see the world through the eyes of someone who has seen things most of us never will and consequently sees the world from a different, but totally legitimate perspective. A different editor might have served Luttrell and his literary mission better, but then again, maybe he was just a Navy SEAL who had decided on his course. In that case, I don't think any editor would succeed in changing his mind.
on September 8, 2014
This book should be required reading for every citizen. I'll have my kids read it when they're older (there is, of course, a bit of cursing in it). I highly recommend this book. You may find the 'action' part a bit small relative to the rest of the book, but I didn't mind the pages spent on SEAL training. Very interesting, especially "hell week." The bravery of the guys in this book is beyond belief. Remember, this is also a story of a Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy. My heartfelt thanks to Luttrell and his SEAL brothers. No country can survive without protecting itself from external threats, and these men are certainly protecting us.
On to the book itself - very exciting read. I went back and re-read the chapter of the main battle. It's fearfully exciting. If he hadn't lived to tell the tale, one would scarcely believe how Marcus actually survives. The language of the book is surprisingly informal and conversational - perhaps a bit too much, but I didn't really mind. All in all you're going to have a hard time putting this book down. And I defy you not to cry thinking of what the families of these men went through (and are going through today).
on March 19, 2015
It's difficult to review a book like this. One that made me cry on multiple occasions; one that had me, by turns, awed and inspired; one that followed me the entire time I was reading and since I finished it. Lone Survivor is a difficult book to read; I don't mean the writing or the style, I mean the subject matter. Going in, the reader knows they are in for an incredible loss, a terrifying ordeal, and, in many ways, an unhappy ending. But they also know that one man made it out alive to tell the story.
I read this book after watching the movie of the same name. I struggle with saying that I liked the movie, given the subject matter, but I did like it. I thought it was moving, powerful, and inspirational. While essentially the same story, the book is quite different from the film. The overall story arc is the same, of course, but the differences are in the details. And, as much as I love Mark Wahlberg (because I do) and admire the movie (because I do) neither hold a candle to the book by the real-life hero, Marcus Luttrell.
Lone Survivor is more than the story of Operation Redwing; Marcus goes back to the roots of his desire to be a Navy SEAL and the grueling training required to become one. It was fascinated . . . and horrified. More than that, I found myself admiring the commitment and dedication displayed by all members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The expectations are so high and I can clearly see why so few make it to become SEALs; I know I wouldn't have it in me and that makes me all the more thankful for the men and women who do have it in them. I worried that I would be lost in the battlefield explanations, but Marcus tells about the events of Operation Redwing in accessible terms and I could easily follow the narrative. His writing, overall, is conversational and I could almost hear his voice saying some of the passages as I read.
Sometimes I find it hard to "judge" a nonfiction book. Who am I to evaluate how any person writes his or her autobiography? But with Lone Survivor I can easily say that this is one of my all-time favorite books. One that I wish I hadn't checked out of the library because I don't want to return it. One that I will get for myself in the very near future, I'm sure. It's a powerful story about more than a military operation - it's about the power of teamwork, the lasting impact of friendship, the haunting nature of loss and trauma, and, ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit.
on October 29, 2007
Great book, but, as a Marine Corps infantry officer and combat veteran, some things concern me about the account. Specifically:
1. How do three goatherds and a gaggle of goats with bells around their necks get to within 4 feet of a 4 man SEAL team without being noticed?
2. Why did they let the goatherds go? Why not abort the mission and take them with them to the extraction point and then let them go after the helicopters had arrived? Why not abort the mission and bind their hands and feet and immediately depart for the extraction point?
3. Why did they let them go and then stick around? An odd decsion given that they knew their position and mission was compromised.
4. Why debate about killing them? Difficult to imagine that there would be a "vote" in the the military - especially a highly disciplined SEAL team - dropped behind enemy lines -- specifically designated and trained to avoid such encounters. However, should such a contingency occur, SEALS are specifically trained to deal with them. A vote?
5. Axelson receives a "mortal head wound," but puts a bandage on himself and then passes a message to stay alive and tell his wife he loves her? Ever seen a mortal head wound?
6. How come the Commander was frantically asking a Petty Officer what they should do in a combat situation? That is his role and responsibility. I understand the roles of the various SEAL team members, but an experienced SEAL Commander asking for advice during combat?
7. Why did Cmdr Murphy go into the clearing to use his cell telephone to call for help when Luttrell later uses his EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) to indicate his position to air craft? Every SEAL carries and EPIRB and all they have to do is hit the button and the whole military world knows they are in trouble and comes running. Four SEALS activating their EPIRBs would have brought every aircraft and weapon within 1000 miles into their area of operation. And the satellite based EPIRB reception is FAR superior to any cell telephone.
8. Cmdr Murphy makes his call, gets shot through the back so that Luttrell can see his "chest blow out," but then picks up his weapon and telephone and comes back to fight? Ever seen a man get shot in the back?
9. Why did he wait so long to use the cell telephone? I understand that he wanted to avoid to detection. After being discovered, that was no longer a concern.
9. Why does Luttrell, the lone survivor now hiding in a rock crevasse and having successfully evaded the search party for more than 8 hours, shoot three weapons carrying men from more than 150 yards away and across a valley? They had not seen him and seem to pose no immediate threat. Yet he shoots all three of them at the risk of compromising his position and bringing more than 60 more to bear on his position that he knows are out there looking for him. SEALs are trained at covert reconnaissance. The last thing they want to do is reveal their position. They are specialized in escape and evasion. Those three shots were noisy and very risky.
I am sure there are answers to these concerns, but it is an unusual and incomplete account for those wishing to understand the details of this specific combat action and not just the story of these heroic actions by an heroic SEAL team.
Nevertheless, an exceptional story of heroism and sacrifice.
on December 1, 2013
The training portion of the book was a bit long although I recognize it as backround. I found myself thinking okay lets get on with the rest of the story.
Speaking as a combat veteran I found that the need to make a moral decision which ended up revealing the Seal team to the enemy was on the team and wrongly placed on "liberals". That is sort of like saying that the Geneva Convention is the "fault" of liberals. To me it was the moral decision of the team and it turned out as a bad one. I cannot say I would have done differently. In a combat situation in enemy held areas, killing any man, woman or child to survive is always a possibilty. They were in a rough place on what to do. Regarless, the team made it and Luttrell should have owned it without blaming people who think different in a political sense. We faced similar conflicts with morality in Vietnam.
The ability of the Seal team and the story of their valiant attempt at survival was to me the high point of the book. The book demonstrated that Seals are supreme soldiers of the highest order. Pretty good read.