- Hardcover: 316 pages
- Publisher: DUTTON Books; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525953728
- ISBN-13: 978-0525953722
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7,036 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.
I have seen various documentaries on t.v. illustrating the situation of the mission, Operation Neptune Spear. This book is different than that of the documentaries. And that is why I wanted to know of this story first hand--by a Special Ops. person who happened to be a team leader, and one of whom had access in seeking out this mass murderer in a compound consisting precisely of enemy encroaching protection. With that said, it happened, not as smoothly as was to be initiated, but with the final outcome to be completed...that of ending Osama bin Laden's further destruction on mankind.
If you want a good book learning more of this Seal Team 6, then this is for you. Not only will you learn exactly what went down in the compound, you will be told of this Seal Team by this soldier's narrations, his thoughts, and his conversations. This is a never forgotten mission executed by a certain group of men from our military on the ground who trained endlessly, along with all those involved with listening and watching the best that they could in command posts.
I discovered another meaning to a name that had not been explained in a documentary, and that is the word Geronimo. The word had meaning to all branches involved with this mission. Geronimo was to be used in reference to Osama bin Laden if...he had been found, was in the custody of the USA special force teams, and if this mission had been safely accomplished by gaining access back into Afghanistan. Everyone in on this longed to hear that word...knowing the mission was accomplished...waiting the longest and most important 40 minutes plus, of their lives! No one other than Team 6 could see what was happening; the same applying on the helicopters--seeing one crash land and having the author of the book being in that helicopter, so close to the opening of the door that he could have easily lost his life due to the crash landing (not to be attributed by the pilot) but by air factors explained. This happened at the mission's beginning, everyone in communication of seeing it hoping that it did not kill those inside the chopper or hinder a 'possible once in a life time' historical accomplishment. When all was clear and the teams were all basically unharmed, were in their choppers with the body of bin Laden along with his vast wealth of media including discs, drives, tapes, and his own writings, and once across the border of Pakistan and back into Afghanistan as that is where they started from, all those involved could breath and react! Not just those in the White House as we all remember that intense picture, but those in hangers; those who refueled the choppers and for all the other special ops snipers who were in the bushes ready to kill if anyone followed the choppers with the 'precious cargo' who were being refueled; to those at C.I.A. mission headquarters; to Rangers who were ready to do their job; and to the Navy who took the body and did a respectful Muslim burial, though not allowing a trail to his tomb within the dark, deep waters, be of observation. We can not imagine how so many people involved must have felt.
When I think about Geronimo, I think back when our soldiers in Iraq searched and stumbled upon a well hidden Saddam Hussein. After a soldier had discovered him and told him that 'President Bush had sent his regards', I then thought of when Paul Bremer walking to his podium those years prior and said to our nation and to the world, "Ladies and Gentlemen...We Got Him!" Years later, proudly again due to our United States Military of Special Ops, President Obama, (who made the decision for the way that this mission would be played out) went to his podium to tell the world of this #1 World's Most Wanted Man, now dead by an undercover operation involving a Special Ops team.
Goose bumps still travel my arms when I think back to both and how proud I am to have such an intelligent military working diligently for our nation...behind desks and those on the field everywhere. One can not do without the other, as that is to be.
A must read book if ever I have recommended one!
This is history in the making!