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No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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“Mark Owen” is a pseudonym for Matt Bissonnette, a Navy SEAL who took part in the 2011 raid on a compound in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. His muscular memoir was cowritten by Maurer, a journalist who has covered American special-ops forces for nearly a decade, including a stint as an embedded reporter in Iraq. Owen was already a SEAL at the time of the 9/11 attacks; the book begins shortly thereafter, as he is qualifying for the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (otherwise known as the famed SEAL Team Six), and follows him through various missions, culminating with a detailed account of the planning and execution of the assault on bin Laden’s compound. His version of events has already sparked some controversy—no surprise there, since the mission itself is still a controversial subject—but it doesn’t feel as though Owen intended to add fuel to the fire. Incendiary subject matter aside, this might feel somewhat familiar due to its thematic similarities to such books as Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, Evan Wright’s Generation Kill, and Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down. Like those modern classics, No Easy Day doesn’t merely tell war stories—it also explores the culture of war and what it means to be a soldier. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This is the book of the moment and has already ended 50 Shades of Grey’s record-setting run at the top of various best-seller lists. Last Sunday’s 60 Minutes interview with the heavily disguised author only added fuel to the fire. --David Pitt
“This harrowing, minute-by-minute account by one of the highly trained members of Navy SEAL Team Six is narrative nonfiction at its most gripping....No Easy Day puts you right there for every tense moment.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Gripping....There is no better illustration in No Easy Day that SEALs are ruthless pragmatists. They think fast. They adapt to whatever faces them. They do what they have to do.”—The New York Times
“[Mark Owen] has given us a brave retelling of one of the most important events in U.S. military history.”—People
“Make no mistake: No Easy Day is an important historic document.”—Los Angeles Times
“A remarkably intimate glimpse into what motivates men striving to join an elite fighting force like the SEALS—and what keeps them there.”—Associated Press
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The first half of No Easy Day covers Bissonnette's work in SEAL Team Six prior to the Osama bin Laden raid. After a cliffhanger opening that anticipates the climax of the book, the story backs up several years to Bissonnette's Green Team training. He was already a Navy SEAL at this point, but he was trying to become a member of the elite Seal TEAM Six, which is composed of the "best of the best." We follow his deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where the recounting of certain missions serves to establish the proficiency of the author and his team at their job. This is rather standard fare for the subgenre.
The latter half of the book is devoted to the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, including the extensive preparations and some of the political aftermath. The actual raid is told in almost moment-by-moment detail, transporting the reader to the compound in Abbottabad. The scene is described so richly that it feels as though we are climbing the stairs with the team as they close in on bin Laden. Several maps and charts help us to picture the location.
No Easy Day focuses almost exclusively on Bissonnette's training and deployments. We learn very little about his personal life, which--combined with his intentional pseudonymity--makes it harder to connect with him emotionally. This information was omitted for obvious security reasons. He does share the toll that SEAL life takes on family life, however. "Many of my teammates suffered through bitter divorces. We missed weddings, funerals, and holidays. We couldn't tell the Navy no, but we could tell our families no. And we did often. . . . Work was always the number one priority. It took everything out of you and gave back very little. . . . everything else in the world took a backseat" (106-7). For those wanting a fuller portrait of a Navy SEAL's personal life, see the excellent book by Eric Blehm, Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown, which details the life of SEAL Team Six operator Adam Brown.
Bissonnette does not engage in self-aggrandizement or bravado, which has marred some earlier books by former Navy SEALs. The author seems to have a realistic view of himself. He says at one point: "I am not unique or special" (298). He does not hesitate to share instances in combat when he was afraid or made a mistake. He occasionally engages in self-deprecating humor. He regularly dishes out praise for his teammates. Bissonnette says that today's SEALs have "evolved past being egomaniacs" (289). Such professionalism is appreciated.
Bissonnette states in the introduction that he has sanitized the book so that it presents no threat to national security. The identities of those involved are masked; special tactics and technology are not revealed; and certain information is generalized. The author says, "If you are looking for secrets, this is not your book" (x). Yet none of these precautions affect the impact of the book. There is still enough specific information to make the action riveting.
Despite Bissonnette's precautions, the book is nonetheless generating controversy. Some special operators have challenged his decision to reveal details about the mission, breaking their traditional code of silence. The Department of Defense has threatened to sue because he did not present the book to the Pentagon for inspection prior to publication. The author has responded by pointing out that many people, from the President on down, have revealed details about the mission. He says, "If my commander in chief is willing to talk, then I feel comfortable doing the same" (298). He claims that everything in the book has already appeared in other unclassified sources (xi). I for one am glad that the book was released. It shows that those who commit acts of terror will suffer retribution--perhaps even deadly retribution--for their evil. This should serve as a warning to our enemies.
At the end of the book are the names of those SEALs who have paid the ultimate price since September 11, 2001. Bissonnette claims that he is donating the majority of the proceeds from the book to charities that support the families of these fallen Navy SEALs. He encourages readers to donate as well.
The book is well-written and a page-turner. Even though the outcome of the book was already known, it maintains a high degree of suspense throughout to see how the situation actually played out. I read it in one sitting. Highly recommended.
Yes, there is some political commentary in the proper context as the military are required to serve their Commander and Chief (the US president), they are allowed to lead private lives and express personal opinions in private. Owen tells about some of the comments made privately, while not on duty, in his book.
If you want to read about what really happened the night bin Laden was captured, and to see some well drawn graphics, plus photos of where the SEALs serve you will find this in his book. Owen also included some photos showing some of the items used by SEALs.
At the end of the book Owen states:
"One of my first projects after leaving was the book. Deciding to do it wasn't easy. No one at the command thought much of the notoriety that came after the Bin Laden raid. We watched it with amusement at first, but that quickly turned to dread as more and more information leaked. We always prided ourselves for being the quiet professionals, but the more I saw coverage of the raid, the more I wanted to set the record straight.
To date, how the mission to kill Bin Laden has been reported wrong...I felt like someone had to tell the true story. To me, the story is bigger than the raid itself and much more about the men at the command who willingly go into harm's way, sacrificing all they have to do the job. Theirs is a story that deserves to be told, and told as accurately as possible."
This clearly states why this book was written and the importance of reading it.
In his book Owen states he will donate the majority of the book proceeds to charity. He also asks his readers to help veteran's organizations who need assistance.
Finally, Owen lists special operations personnel who have fallen in the line of duty since September 11. Reading this list will allow you to realize what these brave military personnel have given so we may be free.