Fictional thrillers about elite combat units pale by comparison to this true story. All Americans should read this book to learn what our armed forces are doing to prepare for and engage our terrorist enemies . . . and how difficult and dangerous those tasks are. The book squarely poses the question of whether military or civilian lives should have greater priority in terrorist combat. In this case, following the rules of engagement seems to have led to the deaths of many SEALS and other American military personnel . . . as well as the deaths of many enemy combatants.
The story of Lone Survivor focuses on a mountainside battle during which four SEALS were outnumbered about 35 to 1 by Taliban forces that were protecting an al Qaeda leader. The SEALS were in a tactically compromised situation with no adequate communications to call for help. The SEALS defended themselves as vigorously as anyone could, and three of them died despite amazing heroism and great training. The fourth SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, survived only through the grace of God and the protection of Pashtun tribe while being tracked and menaced by the Taliban.
Before the battle, Lone Survivor moves backward in time to describe how Leading Petty Officer Luttrell became a SEAL and how even that intense training wasn't nearly as demanding as combat turned out to be. The book concludes with his rescue, recovery from his wounds and illness, and fulfilling his promises to his comrades.
There's a lot of heartbreak in this story. You'll be changed by what you read and how you feel about what happened.
As an American, I feel very proud of those who serve in the American Armed Services and feel enormous gratitude to the elite units for the special risks and rigorous training they endure for our sakes.
But never would I have imagined that duty would call four "frogmen" to battle so many Taliban on a mountainside near the roof of the world. We should all honor the sense of duty that leads brave men and women to answer the call to go so far beyond what it would seem mere mortals could hope to accomplish to protect us all.
May God bless our troops!
on March 22, 2009
This book is as advertised, a solid well written first hand account of one young SEAL's desire and ordeal in become a SEAL, followed by his first hand account of the terrible battle where he was the lone survivor of a small kill team inserted into the Hindu Kush mountains early on in the Afganistan War.
I haven't given this five stars because it is not at the same level as the great eyewitness battle accounts - such as With The Old Breed by E.B. Sledge.
Nonetheless,I strongly recommend the book with the caveat that is is a very good book, but not a great one.
on August 12, 2013
I am continually amazed at what a human being can endure and still survive. It amazes me that a person is willing to undergo even the training that is necessary to become a SEAL, let alone embarking on missions later. At the same time I respect those who are willing to sacrifice their lives so that our freedom from tyranny can be maintained. What Marcus Luttrell and his pals endured during that operation is beyond belief. The fact that he survived to tell the news is even more unbelievable. This story shows how low people can stoop in order to support a cause in which they believe, while at the same time it shows the positive side of human nature when people rise to great heights to support a noble cause. To experience and survive such an ordeal, in spite of the training and preparation, must take a horrible toll on one's emotional and physical well being. If the time should come when there will no longer be any war, men like Marcus will no longer be needed. However, in the meantime, we must respect what they stand for, and remember their sacrifices with glad hearts.
on April 4, 2014
Unsettling prologue introduced the reader into the territory Marcus Luttrell lived with anguish, courage, and humility. “Lone Survivor” began with excruciating training experienced by all who desired to become a Navy Seal. The strenuous training to equip the trainees with physical and mental endurances, adapt to any challenge and rise above it without failure in mind was awe-inspiring and eye-opening to non-military people. The cream of the crop trained Navy Seals were sent on missions to Northern Afghanistan. In particular, four Seals were on a mission – Operation Redwing - so dangerous it tested their training, courage, and bond with jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching results. The actions of these men and others were nothing short of spectacular and memorable.
The chapters were lengthy and informative. Although the first two chapters were technical and dry, they were required to give a full understanding of the training involved and the strength and endurance required to become one of the outstanding Seal team members. The men’s personalities, personal lives, and opinions were included and humanized the faces in the war, not to be seen as statistics. The reader became a part of the story experiencing the sights, sounds, and effects of the attacks on these men.
There are no words powerful or adequate enough to express the strength, courage, spirit, self-sacrificing, honor, and integrity of this brotherhood of warriors. The military, as a whole are strong with men and women standing up for their country, holding firm and together against insurmountable odds. However, “Lone Survivor” was unique in presenting one section of the military and their experiences speak volumes. “Lone Survivor” was a closer look at the inner workings of the Seals, the terrors of war, the fierceness of the Afghanistan fighters, and the generosity of the Pashtun tribesmen. The cohesiveness and the strength of the ingrained bond formed by the Seals were mind-boggling, inspirational, fearless in sacrificing, and truly felt with the highest regard and admiration – a loyalty so great, not many have experienced to this degree. The superhuman honor to sacrifice everything even as life was draining out of these men was beyond tangible understanding – purely inspirational. Their willpower and protectiveness for each other compelled their bodies to continue onward despite the fatal failings of their bodies was expansively powerful and beautifully detailed in words. Connections with the reader was tightly held with events reported in the news, honest narratives of events felt by those in the thick of it, and the bluntness and honesty filled with raw emotions felt deeply.
I cannot emphasize enough how touching this book connected with me. My mind was expanded with knowledge of the military, the Seals, the terrain of Afghanistan, and diversifies of the people of Afghanistan – the good and the bad. “Lone Survivor” not only educated, its emotionally-charged writing swelled hearts with pride. Being moved does not accurately describe the emotions pulled from me as a reader. Tears, not teary-eyed, but full blown tears were released several times through this book. Marcus’s survival, dedication, honors, and respect for all the people in this true story was outstanding. His life is a testament to cherish life as it comes, value your life with joy, remembrances, and hope for a better future, thus honoring and respecting all those who died that touched our lives. “Lone Survivor” will stay with me for years and I fully whole-heartedly recommend everyone to read this book – it will touch you and leave its mark on your heart.
This purchased book gets five stars – no doubt in my mind, it went beyond any of my expectations.
This book is about a Navy SEALS mission gone horribly wrong. The action is intense, and it certainly was a very dramatic mission. As the title says, the author (main author) was the only survivor. Even that was touch-and-go for most of the battle and the days following it. The book really is split into three parts:
1- Training to be a SEAL. Same stuff as usual. We know it's really, really, REALLY tough.
2- Family at home. The community rallied around his family when word came that he was MIA (missing in action). Very impressive.
3- The actual combat. It was a brutal fight, against surprisingly tenacious opponents. Still, it was probably at least 80 against 4. Maybe as many as 150 against 4, so I suppose that boosts one's confidence. The SEALs definitely fought like the killing machines they were trained to be. There is never an official casualty count, but I'd wager it was in the dozens, if not scores.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it is plagued by several inconsistencies. First, I should say that I tremendously respect the author's efforts under fire, and the incredibly brave actions of his comrades as they died. There's no denying that level of bravery. Plus, the author was (and likely is still) suffering from PTSD and survivor-guilt. Having said that, the major point of the book is an ethical dilemma that the author deeply regrets. It leads to frequent rants against the "liberal media". Well, first, much of the media isn't liberal (Fox anyone?). Second, the consequences of bad media versus what happened are not remotely on the same plane. Third, I still don't get why the commanding officer didn't just make the decision. I thought the military wasn't a democracy. Fourth, the author is a devout Christian, and from that perspective, there wasn't any decision to make. Finally, from a military perspective, the decision highlights the job of SEALs- to do tough jobs under tough restrictions. Without that issue, the author and his team wouldn't have been needed. The Air Force could have done the job just as well- actually, better. There's a few other contradicting viewpoints in the book (raging against fighting crappy wars, but that was Bush and the right's fault, not the left!), commenting on modesty in the same breath as mentioning that someone (unnamed) was the leader of their class, etc.
But I'm willing to cut the author some slack. He was a very dedicated and relatively bright soldier, who went through absolute hell. The fact that his book isn't always consistent probably reflects internal inconsistencies that he has to wrestle with himself. So as an accurate book, this deserves a 4/5. If you can read it with a more questioning view, it reveals some really interesting details about the author that I don't think he meant to show, and that makes it an even more interesting book.