A Reader Opines: Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

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Lone Survior: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
Published: 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published June 12th 2006)
Genre: Biography | Autobiography | War | Military History
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

A book such as Lone Survivor isn’t read simply for pleasure. Choosing it for that reason would only lead to disappointment. I chose it for multiple reasons: curiosity, research for the novel I’m writing, the movie hype and patriotism. It didn’t fail me on any of those counts. After reading the last page, my questions were answered, my curiosity sated and my comparisons made, all without compromising my patriotism.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America’s warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Reading Lone Survivor was like having a conversation with Marcus Luttrell, or rather sitting with him as he told about his experiences. I felt like I could stop at any moment and ask a question and he’d answer, but the narrative is such that I didn’t want to interrupt.

This book isn’t for the faint of heart; it holds truths that are harsh and ugly. But for those that possess an unwavering love of the United States of America, it’s a testament to the lengths our military will go to serve. It also gives insight into the workings of terrorists and their hatred for what we hold dear. In between, it reveals a narrow gray area where the ancient tradition of lokhay warkawal saved the life of a Navy SEAL.

There were times the writer in me cringed. For example: “And then, very suddenly, a great fog bank rolled in…” That, ‘very suddenly,’ is a double whammy no-no. But in the next paragraph you get something beautiful: “I remember looking down at it, moonlit clouds, so white, so pure, it looked as if we could have walked right across it to another mountain. Through the NODS (night optic device) it was a spectacular sight, a vision perhaps of heaven, set in a land of hellish undercurrents and flaming hatreds.” A splendid visual.

Lone Survivor is a book that I will carry in my mind for a long time, it isn’t easily forgettable. While I’d like to recommend it to everyone, I know there are those that can’t or won’t enjoy it. Luttrell has no ‘love’ for the media or liberal politicians and he gives valid reasons for his stance. If you count yourself among one of those groups, but are willing to see things from his perspective, I encourage you to read the account of Operation Redwing. Of course, pro-military individuals should, and probably already have, read it.

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