on July 26, 2004
I picked up Warrior Soul while waiting for William Gibson to show up for a reading at Barnes & Noble and was so struck by it that I went back and bought it. Pfarrer is a better writer than most ex-military men, and his descriptions of the men he encountered and training he endured to become a SEAL stuck in my head. After getting the book home I devoured it in two days, and promptly read it again.
Pfarrer's excellent writing aside, I was struck by his tone: he neither romanticizes his military experience nor disdains it. He is as honest about it as one can be when writing about missions which were, at one point, classified. Instead of the gung ho, Rambo figures were are usually presented with when dealing with special forces soldiers, he shows us a group of highly dedicated, highly trained men who are willing to do some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. What comes though is their humanity and, for me, the most interesting thing about the book was the way in which the SEALs dealt with the unimaginable stresses under which they operate. The secrecy and tight bonding required for their job becomes, in many ways, their own worst enemy, as they are forced to live in a world apart from the rest of the military and far, far removed from any civilian life. No coming home and blowing off some steam with your wife or friends, if you have been able to hang onto them.
Pfarrer reached the pinnacle of then-current U.S. Special Forces (SEAL Team 6) and left the Navy, worn down, I think, by the intense emotional pressure of the job. I was left with a sense of awe at what these men are capable of, and compassion for the wounds they received, both physical and emotional.
on April 24, 2004
Chuck can take simple words and twist them into a visual image that needs no further input. Going from the mundane hurry up and wait mentality of typical military ops, he takes you from humorous bar scenes to the horrors of terrorism and the mayhem resulting from underestimating the enemy and complacency. Political correctness takes its toll in attitudes, men, and the morale of entire countries. This can be read between the lines. Chuck pulls no punches and lays it out for anybody to see. The men who do the fighting and the ones who create the need for these men to fight are not generally on the same sheet of music. Politics and appeasement are the enemies. WARRIOR SOUL is not just another 'SEAL' book in typical fashion. I DO NOT compare it to the other books by former SEALs. This one is in a class by itself. Thanks for a great book and thanks for your service to our nation. Grab a copy of WARRIOR SOUL and devour it.
on April 27, 2005
I finally read Chuck's book, and I only wish I had read it earlier. We were team mates in the early 1980s at UDT-21/ST-4, and in fact his platoon relieved mine in Beirut. I have probably read just about every book on the SEAL Teams written by actual frogs that is out there, and Warrior Soul is now up with the top 2 or 3 covering all eras for its military value. Covering the modern (post Viet Nam) era, there is no SEAL Team book close to Warrior Soul. Yes indeed, it's a terrific book on SEAL training and tactics, and is well worth reading for that reason alone.
But Warrior Soul goes much further beyond being a mere military autobiography. Chuck has laid his soul bare on the pages. I can't begin to think of another military autobiography (or any autobiography) which has come even close in terms of often merciless self-examination. (God knows I wouldn't have the guts to tread there!) This book tells it all, and I can't avoid a cliche here: the good, the bad, and the ugly. This book will move you, and you will not forget the story it tells of the Teams, and you will not forget Chuck Pfarrer the man.
But now I want to tell readers something which Chuck didn't (and couldn't) tell in his own story without sounding self-serving. In the Teams, Chuck was a 250 watt bulb that stood out among a very bright group of guys. He was literally the life of the party where ever he went. He told the funniest jokes, made up the best drinking and running songs, drew the most amazing frogman cartoons. He got everybody stoked, all the time!
Here is one example referenced in the book. The teeth drawn on his platoon's Seafox in Beirut? That was all Chuck. When I saw it, when his platoon arrived and we briefly had two Seafoxes on station in Beirut, I was so mad that none of us had thought of doing it! And it's a tribute to his then-platoon commander Frank (ahem) "Giffland" that he allowed their Seafox to be so decorated.
After Chuck got out of the Teams and went into writing movie screenplays, I was probably the least surprised person in the world. It seemed like a totally natural progression for him. You see, Chuck Pfarrer, when I knew him, was a force of nature, a lightning rod, a fountain of creativity and good humor. Even among that very exceptional group of men called Navy SEALs, Chuck stood out, and not only because of his height and red hair!
I wish him victory in meeting all of his challenges, good health, long life, happiness in everything, and continued success in the creative arts.
Author of "Enemies Foreign And Domestic" and "Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista."
on December 30, 2003
Sometimes an author's work transcends the genre. Warrior Soul is one of those rare and wonderful surprises. Pfarrer has written the finest memoir to emerge from the SEAL Team experience. At times humorous and tragic, it never fails to grip the reader, and hits the target again and again. Without bravado or conceit, Pfarrer's silky, powerful prose puts the reader into the heart and mind of a SEAL operator on patrol through the streets of Beirut, during the storming of the aircraft containing the Achille Lauro hijackers and off the Mosquito Coast of Honduras in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a Sandinista patrol boat. Warrior Soul stands with its comrades in arms, Jarhead (Anthony Swofford), In Pharaoh's Army (Tobias Wolff) and The Hunters (James Salter), as three of the finest books on men in combat written in the last fifty years. Honest, troubling and emotionally rich. Mark my words: this book will become a classic.
"Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy SEAL," by Chuck Pfarrer, takes the reader into the world of the U.S. Navy's special warfare community: "the smallest and most elite special operations force in the United States military" (ix). Pfarrer also notes that the acronym "SEAL" stands for the elements in which he and his sailors were trained to operate: sea, air, and land.
Pfarrer's story has a truly global scope, moving from the States to Lebanon, Europe, and Central America. He vividly describes the rigors of SEAL training and the high-adrenaline missions he took on afterwards. Along the way are some colorful portraits of SEALs he knew, including those who mentored him. Particularly powerful is Pfarrer's account of his tour in Lebanon in 1983, during which a devastating attack was unleashed on U.S. forces.
Pfarrer writes about the particular mystique and distinctive qualities of the SEAL community. He discusses SEAL encounters and collaborations with foreign military forces all over the world. Also intriguing are his descriptions of SEAL relationships with other communities within the U.S. military--Marines, surface warfare sailors, Army paratrooper instructors, etc. He also doesn't shy away from discussing problems within the SEAL world or the toll this demanding life can have on people.
At over 400 pages, this is a substantial text. But despite its length, it's a lean and polished work. Pfarrer fills the book with just the right amount of technical and tactical details--enough to complement the human story without overwhelming it. His prose is vigorous, flavorful, and solid, with an occasional satiric edge which I found most refreshing. "Warrior Soul" is truly an outstanding American military memoir.
on February 18, 2004
I grew up surrounded by family and neighbors who had served in the military (Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force) in World War Two. They spoke little about it to me, but I've always had a fierce loyalty and respect for their service to country. Even as I sensed these citizen soldiers hoped I would not have to go through what they had endured.
As an adult when not reading science or medical texts I find myself drawn to books like Warrior Soul. Mr Pfarrer does a terrific job of portraying the rigors, perils and frustrations of an elite warrior. As a life long multisport athlete who enjoys shooting targets and the comforts of a close family I was left strained by the stressful lifestyle Navy Seals must endure. Especially the members of Seal team six with their constant training, deployments, secrecy and out of their hands politics.
I always wondered why we had no response to the Beirut barracks bombing. I was even left with this impression after reading See No Evil by Robert Baer and other books about Lebanon. I thank Mr. Pfarrer for discussing his role as eyes on target for the French bombing of the Hezbollah HQ prior to leaving Lebanon. Perhaps there were other ops, in response, which we may or may not ever hear about as well.
His battle with cancer was equally visceral in a literal and figurative sense. Mr. Pfarrer tells a very perilous story where life hangs in the balance. He also reveals himself as all too human through his relationships with the women in his life.
Thank you, Mr Pfarrer for your service to country and for your more personal service to your readers. You gave me a glimpse of things I will never have to recon with in life.
I wish for you, a long, healthy and happy life with your wife and son.
Over the years I have read and reviewed numerous books written by U.S. Navy SEALS. This is one of the best ones I have read lately. The author, Chuck Pfarrer, a former Navy SEAL Officer gives us a first hand look at what it takes to be a U.S. Navy SEAL. He relates the many dangerous missions he has been on and his writing style makes you feel like you are there with him and his SEAL team mates. As a former U.S. Navy (regular Navy-1959-1963) sailor many years ago when the SEALS were still called UDT/SEALS, I have always had enormous respect for this Special Ops. unit. If it was not for some medical issues I was going to apply for BUDS training at that time.
This book tells about the author's early life and how he decided to join the Navy. He knew what he wanted right away, which was to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. After Officer Candidate's school he entered BUDS training. It is truly amazing what these Navy Commandos have to endure before becoming fully trained SEALS. If you have any desire to become a Navy SEAL you would be wise to read this book first and even that will not prepare you for the real physical and psychological pressure you will receive in training. There is no tougher military training than to become a U.S. Navy SEAL.
In conclusion, if you are seeking a real thrill ride of real life combat experience, told by someone "who has been there and done that" this book is for you.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Predator Hunter: A warrior's memoir)
on June 22, 2014
Chuck Pfarrer is reputedly 'a legend' in the tightly-knit world of Navy Seals. Despite the numerous omissions in this narrative, omissions made necessary by the demands of confidentiality (some of the missions are still classified information) in the shadow world where these units operate, Chuck Pfarrer's story comes across as the authentic voice of a brave and intelligent man. Better than a fiction thriller.
on March 24, 2006
If you are looking for a book full of special operation missions that end up engaging the enemy, this is not the book.
This book follows the life of the author's effort to become a Navy Seal. Then it gives you a mission here and a mission there. I think there are around 4 missions throughout the book, and only one or two of them had some kind of fire exchange.
One thing you get a lot of is hours and hours of the author being in Beirut where you get some kind understanding of what it was like being there during their civil war, where he spent most of the time inside a American beach base trying to live as constant mortar and RPG fire keep falling around him and the marines on the base.
And then you follow the author life as a civilian while he moves from here to there and he tries to make it as a Hollywood screen play writer.
This book had a lot of long dull parts for me, because what I was after in this book was more about Special Forces missions and less about the personal life of this guy. If you want to read a book that is full of special forces mission from beginning to end read "SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam -- by John L. Plaster" instead.
on April 7, 2014
An excellent account of the making and deploying of a Navy SEAL. The author was in Beirut at the time of the bombing of the Marine barracks back in the 80's. He, like many of us, wonders to this day what the hell we were doing there in the first place. It is still a boiling kettle of the same mixture of people who hate and kill each other as a matter of routine. He tells of the ridiculous rules of engagement then that are still restricting our fighting troops today. Politicians, it seems, do not read history and doom our military to dying for no cause whatsoever. This is a story of extremely tough, extremely brave, and extremely patriotic men way beyond what the average person is capable of. A terrific read that will make you wonder why we are squandering our best trained fighters in the wrong places for the wrong reasons to this very day. You have to say, God bless our patriots.