The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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"A jaw-dropping, fast-paced account."
—New York Post
"Enlightening about military special forces, especially the SEAL component . . . A fast-paced account quite likely to engender strong reactions among readers concerned with the U.S. military's roles in foreign conflicts."
"O'Neill absorbingly relates the 2011 attack on bin Laden's Pakistan compound . . . [Other] fascinating stories include his role in the successful 2009 mission to free Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, and those of too many fellow SEALs who were killed in battle. Fans of battlefield narratives, such as Michael Golembesky's Level Zero Heroes, will relish this gripping perspective on 21st-century warfare."
“A riveting, unvarnished and wholly unforgettable portrait of America’s most storied commandos at war."
—Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
“Intensely moving and awe-inspiring, The Operator captures as few other books have the essence of being a frogman: utterly unimaginable fatigue followed by intense exhilaration followed by a weary emptiness—and then back for more. As this book shows, SEALs regularly travel to an emotional place that few men will ever visit. O’Neill wrote himself into American history with the three shots he fired into Osama bin Laden, but if you think that operation was intense wait till you read about the ones that preceded it. There is a saying, ‘Great battles are only given to great warriors.’ Rob was repeatedly given great battles, and he represented accordingly.”
—Marcus Luttrell, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Lone Survivor and Service
“Impossible to put down . . . What O’Neill has written is unique, surprising, a kind of counternarrative, and certainly the other half of the story of one of the world’s most famous military operations . . . In the larger sense, this book is about how to be alive—how to be human while in the very same moment dealing with death, destruction, combat.”
—Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers
About the Author
O’Neill helped cofound Your Grateful Nation, an organization committed to transitioning Special Operations veterans into their next successful career. You can find him at RobertJONeill.com.
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This book regards the experiences of the author in serving as a U.S. Navy SEAL member on some 400+ "missions", with his account of being the person who actually shot and killed Osama Bin Laden -- the Islamist who coordinated the hijacked airplane, suicidal Islamikazi attacks on 9/11/2001 that destroyed several skyscrapers in NYC and damaged the Pentagon.
The author recounts growing up in Montana and the road that led to his joining the U.S. Navy to become a SEAL. He recounts his SEAL training -- a trying, exhausting experience that one has read in many other SEAL-training books written by other SEAL-school graduates. Following SEAL training, he discusses other combat-oriented training that he undertook during his 16 years as a SEAL.
What, of course, is of primary interest here is his account as to how his SEAL team trained for their mission to "neutralize" Osama Bin Laden at his secretive Abbottabad, Pakistan compound. I'm not going to recount the author's entire 25-page raid of rappelling from a helicopter into Osama's high-walled "fortress", but will quote the author as claiming that as he climbed up a stairwell to Osama's third floor: "Osama bin Laden stood near the entrance at the foot of the bed, taller and thinner than I'd expected, his beard shorter and hair whiter....In less than a second, I aimed above the woman's right shoulder [who was standing in front of Osama] and pulled the trigger twice. Bin Laden's head split open, and he dropped" (p. 310). Well, there's more to the author's account as to how his team searched through the building for documents and computers for intelligence data, and their escape back to their Afghanistan base.
About a year-and-a-half after shooting bin Laden, the author decided to retire -- but still about 3 years short of being able to retire from the military and qualify for a monthly pension. Towards the end of his SEAL career, he came under criticism from other SEALs that he was planning on quitting early in order to "cash in" on writing a book such as this. The author was bothered by such criticism, and he pondered in his concluding paragraph: "I've had many moments when I've wondered if being the one who killed Osama bin Laden was the best thing that ever happened to me, or the worst. I'm still trying to figure that out" (p. 336).
Even if the author hadn't been the SEAL who downed Osama, his recounting of his other combat experiences would still make this book an interesting read. I highly recommend it.
And through all of it, Rob remains completely humble.
By far my favorite book and I plan on buying it again through Audible to listen while running.
The reader is literally in Rob's hip pocket during his trials during BUD/S and advanced SEAL training, assignment to the teams, the mundane and hair raising missions, as well as a riveting description of the raid to kill bin Laden. He balances the technical, military and personal sides of his career with skill and humility.
The only reason it took me two days to read it is that I started at 10PM the night I downloaded it. Highest recommended for anyone vaguely interested in the topic.
The Operator is the recently published book by Navy Seal Robert J. O’Neill, who is best known for firing the shots that killed Osama Bin Laden. This is a fascinating and well written story of men doing difficult things from their initial training to missions abroad and the challenges they face with their families, their friends and with their fellow operators.
While O’Neill participated in 400 missions during his career, it was surprising the number of historically significant missions he was involved with. Previously, this reader did not know that he was involved with the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, when Somali pirates had taken over the Maersk Alabama. He was also in Paktika Province (Afghanistan), when Bowe Bergdahl deserted. O’Neill and his team hunted for Bergdahl as did my paratrooper son. When my son mentioned that Seals would go on missions with his team, I wondered if it could have been O’Neill and his guys.
While the world knows about the killing of Bin Laden, O’Neill fills in the details on what actually went on inside that compound, and the tenseness of the operation. This story also makes one realize that war is a young man’s game, and this reader remains thankful that there still are Americans who serve a purpose that is greater than themselves. Read this book and be inspired!
Top international reviews
I was hesitant to buy the book thinking perhaps that I’d already “heard it” however the dozens of public appearances I’ve creeped on social media don’t come close to telling the broader story in the same manner that the book does.
I think of how many people have been saved from having to make decisions like “jump or burn” because these guys were, are and will be out there being amazing into eternity. This book was an excellent read and whether you’re looking for a few insights on what to expect at BUDS or are seeking inspiration to go out and enjoy some freedom- it will not disappoint.
The Operator is a very personal story told in a breezy, "This happened", casual and honest way. Throughout, Rob manages to convey, with great humour and a lot of introspection, the oftentimes comical circumstances that led him to join the Navy and begin the long journey that eventually led to him being on the Team that took down Osama Bin Laden in a chilling narrative that is superbly presented. Throughout, Rob manages to remind the reader that it is The Teams, working together, calling on their extensive training, executing the plan, adapting to the situations that arise, that accomplish unimaginable results that all deserve credit for.
In the end, you feel like you know the Rob O'Neill family, which includes not just his blood relatives, but the men & women that touched Rob throughout his career that helped shape him into a man who served his country so well, often under extraordinary circumstances.
All that, and there is a strong feeling that if you ran into him in an airport somewhere, you might just want to sit down with him and have a beer.
A great story, well told.
Literarisch natürlich nicht unbedingt der Brüller. Aber alles in allem ganz ok.
Would love to see him talk if the opportunity came up. Very engaging