5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2014
The book, as well known, describes the operation that the NAVY SEAL Team Six, known also as DEVGRU, has conducted for eliminating Bin Laden. The account of the intervention alternates to the personal history of the author, his training to become a member of this famous, even if secret, special team.
The various training phases, aimed to gain the maximum perfection, are narrated in simple way, deprived of emphatic affirmations.
The description of the special equipment (some photos show a few of them), not known to the public, gives a look on some available high-tech armaments and material for high risk interventions of such kind.
There are described some real operational moments in the various theaters of war. Also these stories are honestly reported with the possible unforeseen event and incidents. The men are not super heroes, but only elements highly motivated and determined to accomplish the assigned mission.
The story is honest and free of those boasts and pseudo-statements of petty national policy present on many accounts (more or less reliable) written by former members of Elite Forces. The "Neptune Spear" is told with simplicity, without exaltation. Certainly a few "secret details" have been omitted for understandable reasons. This must be kept in mind when doubts arose on the real carrying out of the action. We can discuss (approve or disapprove) if such operations guarantees more security to all of us, but surely it is a clear message: there is always someone with the ability and resources to find men like Bin Laden and to call them to answer of their crimes.
In any case, the book is well worth a read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2014
Having read a number of books about British Special Forces I wanted to learn more about the US Navy SEAL teams and this book provided not just background information but an insight into one of the most important Special Forces assaults in history. It is an excellent read from start to finish. From the point of view of a reader, disregarding the significance of the operation described, what struck me most is that even though Operation Neptune Spear is one of the most famous events with an outcome known worldwide, the tension is conveyed so well that the story keeps the reader gripped to the end. As a first-hand witness account of the unfolding drama it doesn't get any better than this, and I feel the book will be an important document in its own right.
There are two authors, which is common for the military biography genre because, as `Mark Owen' (pseudonym of the SEAL team member) points out, the temperament of a soldier, especially anyone in the Navy SEALs, does not take readily to pursuing a passive lifestyle so it follows that they don't sit around much writing, simply because they would prefer to do something else. There's nothing wrong with having a second author on board to create an outstanding book based on personal recollections.
Like most books about Special Forces and other military operatives this one follows what seems to be a tried and trusted format: the first pages put the reader firmly in the middle of the main action (in this case the assault on the compound housing Bin Laden) and then it takes a step back in time to let us know the background of the Navy SEAL teams as fighting units, the progress of Mark Owen through the SEALs to the elite of the elite, SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU) and then a blow-by-blow account of the days leading up the assault itself, the climax of the book.
Despite the familiarity of the format this book is exciting. It is written without any self-serving arrogance or posturing. Modest and honest, as an insight into the US Special Forces community of Navy SEALs undertaking one of their most important missions to date it is enthralling. I found all of it fascinating, especially comparing the SEAL teams with those of UK Special Forces, the SAS (Special Air Service) in particular. As far as selection and training are concerned the professionalism, the competitive nature of striving to achieve the ultimate in excellence and keeping it at that level, and the teamwork, are very similar. The arduous selection and training process is lengthy (around six to nine months to start with) in both cases and the nature of different phases of training creates similar levels of expertise.
This is one of the most modern books about Special Forces I have read so far and if I had to choose one word to sum up the attitudes of these men it would be `adaptable'. They have to be prepared to think on their feet, to alter their responses according to changes in the circumstances in which they find themselves and as this particular story unfolds their adaptability is tested to the limit. When the SEAL teams made their assault on the compound they did not know what kind of resistance they would meet or what outcome they could expect, and even after weeks of careful planning they could not know in advance how the operation would pan out.
Most of the work of Special Forces is covert and involves weeks or months of patient surveillance of targets in hostile terrain before operations like Neptune Spear are put into action. As I write this in October 2014 Special Forces from the US, the UK, and many countries from around the world, are deployed in Iraq and Syria facing an enemy whose barbarity knows no limits. Special Forces and intelligence operatives are the first line of defence against foes such as Islamic State. Their work brings the kind of danger on a daily basis that most of us hope never to see in our lifetimes. If captured, they know they face horrific torture and the most brutal death their captors can devise yet they carry out their duties regardless. Over and over again I have been humbled by their courage and dedication. They are not saints or supermen/women and most would never think of themselves in those terms, but I am grateful we have such people in our midst. They carry out tasks the rest of us are ill-equipped to think about let alone contemplate putting into action.
No Easy Day is, in its own quiet way, a tribute to the remarkable bravery of the many men and women involved in Special Forces and intelligence work. Most of what they do remains untold and their achievements go unrecognised by the public. This is a rare opportunity to see their work close up.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2012
I found the book quite informative and written in the style of how special operators I've known would have written it. The first part about the training was heartwarming to me as it brought back so many similar, familiar thoughts and emotions. I enjoyed reading a member of a younger generation's thoughts about wanting to serve with the best in perhaps the most difficult profession and then persevering through whatever it took mentally, physically and psychologically to succeed. The authors knew the readership would be from many sectors of many societies and cultures making the background information of what a man must endure to be chosen to be in a place like the door of Osama Bin Laden's bedroom in the dark of night.
I was humbled by the candidness of this SEAL who spoke of his fears and how he handled them. He spoke of his family and loved ones back home warmly. He was honest about his tiredness and how he had learned to set aside even thoughts of being comfortable so as not to take his full focus off the tasks before him. Reading this book may bring many surprises to a great deal of the public who rely on the two weakest links in obtaining news and seeing characterizations formed of people in special operations. Those weak links are the "the mass media" in broadcast or print; and "Movies/documentaries" from Hollywood. The SEAL reminded me that the bravado and chest thumping we often see when the news seeks out a "former (fill in the blank) military member", but does little to verify the credentials or relevence of experience of the guest. Occasionally, they will get the right person, but then the interviewer usually asks the wrong questions and keeps steering the interview toward the agenda of the station/network. I say this about all broadcast and print media available in this language without singling out any political view. Journalists could take a lesson from this SEAL about finding the unvarnished truth in a story. He does mention some personal political views, but it is an auto-biography that is often less political than most broadcast/print news. The SEAL lacks the subtlety employed by the mass media, but special operators get little training in subtlety wheras it seems journalists get a lot.
I hope everyone will read this book to help them understand why people choose to undergo such training and then subject themselves to the danger of carrying out the orders of the elected officials who decide what needs to be done and the elected officials who vote the funds necessary to carry out the missions. The special operators are not the ones who decide what is in their nation's best interest. The only thing a military member can decide is if the order issued to them is a legal order and be ready to undergo the review to determine if the order had been legal and to then be ready to face the consequences of disobeying a legal order. The higher up the chain of command, the more review of legality of the order has been done. If you know the Commander in Chief is listening for reports on the mission, you can feel safe knowing the order is legal. A disparaging reviewer mentioned morality. Anyone who may have morality issues with being involved in combat may declare themself a conscientious objector and still serve in most nation's military forces in non-combat duties.
Being married to another retired military officer, I was most happy to see the involvement of women included in this operation. Though women were not a part of the boots on the ground operation, there were countless women involved, both civilian and military. My military career ended after women were in nearly every facet of special operations, with the exception of ground operations. I am sure there are women who may want to be a part of these operations, but the women I knew, who were all tough soldiers, told me when I often asked if they would like to trade places with me, that there was no way they wanted to try that. Many missions are not physically as demanding as others, but every team member must be able and ready to go anywhere and do anything as the SEAL pointed out.
The SEAL used a time line to show how the story unfolded in the press, knowing the next breaking news may show his face and the specfic area of his hometown was mentioned and crawling with newspeople. I applaud his hesitation to sign a memento, but wonder why he did not express reluctance about the team photo. I have seen the photo, with the only face not covered being that of Cairo, the military dog. I am aware some official military photos from my days of film had the negative altered in the darkroom to prevent seeing faces, name tags, even rank, branch and class rings where camouflaged. I don't know how that is handled in the digital age.
I read the book and I read the very few disparaging reviews posted here. As a retired special operator, I can offer the unhappy reviewers a bit of advice. If you see an autobiography by someone whose life was not one of letters, but one of action, please hold your criticism for the lack of scholarly prose, and the lack of the author's review of historical significance. Attempts to diagnose the mental capacities of these men who find humor where they can is petty. Sophisticated humor has not been a hallmark of soldiers throughout history, as they live under the very great stress of knowing the next funeral they attend may be their own. I suggest you treat such auto-biographies as you would an historical account of an eyewitness. Try to focus on putting yourself in the situations described and attempt to imagine your emotions. Adrenaline, yes; but to describe it as being drunk on it is ridiculous. These professionals must perform to perfection and make split second decisions upon which their lives and the lives of their team mates depend. Feel safe in your crystal clear hindsight and leather recliner, while rough men go about the duties the voters in their respective countries put decision makers in office to decide and order these deeds done.
I applaud the courage of this SEAL for bringing this book forward and for donating a significant amount of the proceeds to charities supporting the families of lost SEALs. I also applaud and thank the untold and often unknown service members of every free country. I feel a brotherhood of arms even with the unwilling soldiers forced into service of nations which are not free. Despots and their minor tyrants are on their own.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2012
I have never reviewed a book on here, but I felt the need to provide one for this book (even though I didn't buy it here).
The book deals largely with the events that led up to the death of Bin Laden last year. The author does an excellent job of providing just enough information about his career and the brutal training and missions that these guys go on to ease the reader into the story. There was nothing in the story regarding details about operational procedures of the SEALs that could not be found publicly elsewhere. The story does tend to jump about a bit however through different events that seemingly have little in common except to help understand how these men think and operate.
Now down to the nitty gritty. Without ruining the events as he describes them (despite these revelations being plastered across many media outlets), they do indeed differ somewhat from the official account given by the American Government. How significant these differences are, I will leave for you to decide. The chapters that deal with this are extremely tense, thrilling stuff. I couldn't put the book down once these chapters started kicking in, and the book ends on this thrilling climax leaving the reader wanting more. Always a good way to end a book.
The profits from the book will go to veterans charities that support former Navy SEALs so it is definitely worth the buy. The author states that he does not want to profit from telling the story, simply that he wants the truth to finally reveal itself. This is quite believable, and for that reason alone should hopefully convince you that the events unfolded as he has described. He hasn't appeared to have gained anything from telling his story, and may in fact get himself slapped with a lawsuit from the Pentagon and some unwanted media coverage at this rate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2014
Good account of SEAL missions and obviously of one that got OBL. Also covers of the SEAL training and earlier missions.
The action is described in a calm and matter of fact way which demonstrates the professional approach of the writer. Americans can be so gun-ho and chest beating when they describe their armed forces but there is non of this in the book.
The writer is likeable and believable and the book is a good and inspirational read.
But why did that helicopter crash? Weird !!
There were quite a lot of abbreviations throughout and I lost track of what they all meant after a while.
After promising myself not to read it, I finally bought this book on 30 December, red it over the New Year and could not let go of it before the last page. As mentioned in the title of this review, I found it much better and much more intresting that what I expected.
To be fair, however, my expectations may have been somewhat on the low side to begin with after having read a number of other books on similar "special ops" stories over the years. I finally went for it partly because of the topic itself - the taking out of the "arch-villain" (and I am not being sarcastic here), partly because it was marketed as a "grass-roots" story (the story told by a direct eyewitness) and partly because of the controversy surrounding the publication of the book (the so-called "national security" issues supposedly raised by its publications).
Before going any further, I should perhaps mention that I am neither American, nor military or ex-military. I was somewhat surprised to find out how much passion this book has raised in the US, something that is rather well reflected through the Amazon reviews on the US site. I should also stress that I very much appreciated and liked this book, but not necessarily for exactly the same reasons as those mentioned by other reviewers.
It is, of course, interesting to learn about the author's own experience in the Naval Seals in general, and in Seal Team Six, in particular, although this is not the most original part of the book. There is already a (surprisingly large!) number of other books on special forces and counter-terrorist or counter-insurgency operations carried out by a number of countries and this number has grown rather rapidly over the last decade. Many of these books describe gruelling selection and training processes and emphasize in various ways that the members of such elite units are "la crème de la crème".
What is less common, however, is for an ex-operator to publish a book during a presidential election campaign in order to "set the record straight" and "tell what really happened", at least according to the author. This is relatively rare, especially so recently after a supposedly secret operation. I was personally unable to find anything in this book which could justify any claim about any kind of national security breach, although the contents of the book, when compared with the official story and stance taken by the outgoing administration, do present some interesting differences.
Many reviewers on the US site have tended to take sides, either for or against the author (and therefore against or for the outgoing Democrat Administration). After reading this book, I am not sure that this amalgam was intended by the author, and anyway this is probably not the most interesting feature of the book (in addition, of course, to the assault itself). What I found the most interesting - and worrying - element is the level of distrust in politicians that this book exhibits. This is probably regardless of whether the politicians happen to be Democrats (as here) or Republicans (as in the rather shameful episode where the real identity of a CIA agent was leaked). In both cases, the distrust - and perhaps even the contempt - shown by those actually risking their lives with regards to their political (and democratically elected) leaders seems to have reached high levels.
I hope, as some reviews from US military personnel seem to suggest, that these feelings are not as widely shared as this book, and a number of other episodes, might suggest, although I simply do not know and cannot tell. Such feelings, however, are nothing new, as another reviewer has hinted at. The US military seems to have had similar feelings after the Vietnam War. Military forces in other democratic countries have also reacted rather "negatively" (to put it nicely) to what they have seen as the "self-interested" or even the "treasonous" behaviours of their elected Heads of State or Prime Ministers. For a rather extreme example, think of the rebellions of the French armed forces in Algeria in 1958 and 1961, for instance.
So for me, this book has value largely - and perhaps mostly - because it shows these feelings. Since these are hardly flattering, it is easy to understand why a government - regardless of the democratically elected government's political affiliations - must have been rather unhappy to see it published: not exactly the best possible PR dujring an election year, to put it mildly. However, to finish on a positive note, the fact that the book was published also says something about US institutions and the way they work. In other (and perhaps most other?) countries, the publication might have been blocked or delayed, and the book heavily edited...
on 10 September 2012
No Easy Day is a book that has possibly attracted the most pre-release media hype during 2012. But does the book meet the expectations of that hype? In this case it does!
Without spoiling the read for any future readers, the book is well written and engaging for even readers who do not usually reach for this genre on the bookshelves. The author has attempted to avoid the pitfall of constantly using lots of military abbreviations and jargon.
A great deal of the book is devoted to the authors entry into the SEALS, SEAL training, and missions in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to the raid of Osama Bin Laden's compound. Why this part of the book may not address the primary reason why most people will select this book, the raid on Bin Laden's compound, it does give an insight into how the SEALS are selected, train and work.
For obvious reasons this book does not provide a great deal of information about all the intelligence community work that went on to actually trace Bin Laden's compound. Quite rightly, as this part of the work was outside the authors sphere of involvement in the mission, and this is part of the story that will have to wait to be told so not to damage the work being undertaken by the intelligence community.
The epilogue of the book is quite unusual. It is a statement justifying the author releasing the story of the raid. It almost appears to be an opening statement that would be read at the opening of defences case at the beginning of a court case - will this book land the author in court? Watch this space!
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2012
Transparency is a good thing.
It's nice to finally get a first hand account of what happened in Abbottabad, the night the U.S. military raided Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan.
This book is well written and will keep you on edge as if you were there on the mission with SEAL Team 6.
For people who are interested in the details of this event, this book is likely to be considered the final truth.
Thanks to the author for his service and publication of this book.
on 10 September 2012
The first chapter of the book opens directly in the middle of the flight into the compound of Osama bin Laden - THE mission itself. Then the narrative cuts back to review the 11 years of service of the author in the SEALS, leaving me somewhat worried that the middle 90% of the book was going to be like this - i.e. padding - and then the final chapter would cut back to the closure of the ObL mission.
'Worried' because the intervening narrative is not that interesting. The author gives no insight into personal life, domestic tribulations etc, nor into the motivations or doubts of elite soldiers like these. Instead it is more of a catalogue of training and previous missions with little in-depth detail (possibly a necessity due to the legal scrutinty of this book). The information on the training and selection of SEAL Team Six - a sub-group formed from the most elite of the elite SEALs - leaves you in no doubt why this team was the natural choice for the ObL mission.
However! The good news is that the details of the planning and execution of the ObL mission picks up again from about halfway through the book. The moment by moment detail of the ObL mission is replayed in fine detail and the precise, factual style of the narrative really works. You live every footstep and breath, every moment of indecision and confusion. And it is deeply fascinating.
on 12 September 2012
I found out about this book in mid August on the BBC website. I was browsing through and saw there was some sort of controversy about the book not being authorised by the Pentagon for its content. Of course, my initial thought (along with most people) was that we may find out some secret information!!! That and the fact that finally there is a book about what is a seemingly important event, writen by someone who was there, rather than the story being twisted by the press. So I preordered it.
The book was delivered on the morning of release, and I opened the package when I went home on my lunch break. All afternoon at work, all I could think was, 'I want to get home and start it'. Now, I'm not a big reader, and I rarely get excited to read a book, but everday I just wanted to read it. I don't think I've ever got through a book so quick in my life, not even Biff & Chip.
I can honestly say that this book is brilliant! So easy to read, and if you're like me and enjoy military related things, this is definitely for you!