SOFREP provides news and information about the past, present and future of Special Operations Forces. Some of that information comes in the form of book reviews, whether fact or fiction, novel or graphic novel. Today we present just a sampling of the many book reviews and book recommendations that we’ve published on SOFREP.com.
Erik Prince’s “Civilian Warriors”
Brandon Webb writes: “I was standing in the bustling San Diego airport terminal on my way to Texas this week, and stopped in the bookstore to look for something to read for the long flight to San Antonio. I glanced at over several titles, and then saw Erik Prince’s book, Civilian Warriors, out of the corner of my eye. I’ll admit it, I didn’t want to read it at first, in fact I put it back on the shelf, then stood and stared at it. Deep down, I knew I had to read it and get Erik’s version of Blackwater.
There are always multiple perspectives to every story, and somewhere in the middle resides the truth. In light of all the controversy stirred up in the media, and political hype drummed up by the usual suspects in DC, I’m glad Erik Prince finally told his side of the story.”
“The Trident” by Jason Redman
Jason Redman was critically wounded in a fierce firefight in the Al Anbar province of Iraq in 2007. He almost bled to death that night, thousands of miles away from his family, and friends. The note he hung from his hospital door during his recovery vent viral, and inspired many. The Trident is his story.
I started reading Jason’s book on my way back from Poland. I had just finished a quick visit with some of our Special Ops GROM brothers, and cracked open the book on the long flight home back to Manhattan.
I found it hard to get through the first couple of pages. This was not because of the writing, it’s very well written. It was difficult because of the long, sobering list of names he placed upfront, a list of all the SEALs lost since 9/11/01. It hit me in the face like the icy winter waters of the Pacific ocean and sent chills down my spine as I sat in 40D. I paused, staring off into blankness long enough for people to start looking at me funny, then I snapped back in and read on.
Jack Murphy’s Target Deck
The drug war. Gun-running. An alarming fusion of the private sector with the government apparatus. Strange bedfellows. All of these are hot-button topics in politics at large and specifically in regards to foreign policy. As an action writer, I can testify first-hand that hot-button topics are what make our plots flow. Our curiosity makes us wonder, “What if X or Y were to happen? How would this go down?” We pick a topic or two, combine fact and speculation to come up with a narrative that entertains and, if the writer is worth their salt, makes the reader wonder which is which.
That is, of course, unless you’re Jack Murphy.
Murphy takes all four of those touchy subjects, gives each of them enough research to put a modern journalist to shame, and links them together through brutal, gruesome action in his sophomore print novel, Target Deck. The amount of action in this outing puts his first novel, Reflexive Fire, to shame, which anybody who read it would assure you that they would find the notion impossible.
The Bleed by John Cronin
The search for Captain Cronin had turned up a dry hole so I was extremely excited to see a book simply appear on Amazon’s recommendations for my account. Called The Bleed, I immediately downloaded it and devoured it. This book is a classic autobiography that fills in so many missing links about the few that served in Vietnam and then Rhodesia. Whether you are interested in Rhodesia or not, anyone remotely interested in Special Operations and the lifestyle of a Professional Soldier from the Baby Boom generation will enjoy this read.
Cronin’s family had served with distinction in combat through all of the major wars America has participated in and he was to be no exception. In the mid 1960s and the ramping up of forces in Vietnam, he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute for his college education. Circumstance and his easy going style forced him to make other decisions a year later.
Not wanting to come back from the Vietnam War in a body bag, he weighed his options and enlisted in the Marine Corps because he felt at that time they were a more motivated, well trained force. Anyone who joined the military in 1966 knew that they were most likely to spend a year abroad in Vietnam, backpack and all. The Author describes a classic path through Marine Corps boot camp ending up with orders to become a radio man. Unlike today, people rarely chose their career path. Dutifully completing the school, he had no intention of sitting behind a desk for the 13 month tour of duty.
Terrorists in Love
Terrorists in Love introduces us to men like Ahmad Al-Shayea, an Al Qaeda suicide bomber who survives his attack only to become fiercely pro-American; Zeddy, who trains terrorists while being paid by America’s ally, the Pakistani Army; and Malik, Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s personal seer. Lifting the veil on the mysterious world of Muslim holy warriors, Ballen probes these men’s deepest secrets, revealing the motivations behind their deadly missions and delivering a startling new exploration of what drives them to violence and why there is yet an unexpected hope for peace. An extraordinarily gifted listener and storyteller, Ballen takes us where no one has dared to go—deep into the secret heart of Islamic fundamentalism, providing a glimpse at the lives, loves, frustrations, and methods of those whose mission it is to destroy us.
House To House By SSG David Bellavia
“Blood flows over my left hand and I lose my grip on his hair. His head snaps back against the floor. In an instant, his fists are pummeling me. I rock from his counterblows. He lands one on my injured jaw and the pain nearly blinds me. He connects with my nose, and blood and snot pour down my throat. I spit blood between my teeth and scream with him. The two of us sound like caged dogs locked in a death match. We are.”
Inside Delta Force
I’ve known that their selection was modeled after the British SAS but having a first hand account was fascinating as I was drawing comparisons of the “unknown” to my own experience in SEAL selection (BUD/S). I also feel his pain regarding the Clowns In Action and the upper echelons of government who often use good men as pawns for their own advancement.
I found the POW story fascinating and disturbing (you’ll have to read it for yourself) and can imagine that this, along with his other viewed government atrocities, were motivating factors behind Eric writing this book.
When I first read about The Activity in a USA Today article I thought, “holy shit, those guys have a comic book?!” Intelligence Support Activity is SOCOM’s more secretive, and compartmentalized unit. To tell you the truth, even those of us in SOF knew very little about them or what kind of operations they had going on.
Viscount Down by former Rhodesian SAS Keith Nell
“Even as a hardened 20-year old SAS soldier, my stomach turned as the nausea hit my throat. What I saw will be with me forever,” writes Sergeant Johan Bezuidenhout of the scene he saw on the ground that day. 56 civilians were killed during the RH 825 disaster.
“Viscount Down” by Keith Nell starts by documenting the details of the disaster above before telling two stories in parallel. One is Keith’s story as the SAS operator charged with tracking down and killing the group of terrorists responsible, the SA-7 gang. The second story belongs to Martin, a black Rhodesian whose village, or Kraal, is terrorized by communist inspired terrorists who press ganged him into service with them.
Powerful Peace: A Navy SEAL’s Lessons on Peace from a Lifetime at War
DuBois’s book, a relatively short 154 pages, is packed with wisdom derived from personal experiences in battle and in training with his peers in the SpecOps community world-wide. It underscores the many options available to us to resolve conflict before we engage with bullets and bombs. This is a critical book that both doves and hawks need to read, discuss and implement in their daily lives.
The Maritime Sniper Manual
The “Maritime Sniper Manual” has something to teach junior and veteran snipers alike. The manual is broken down in a logical manner and presents the information in easy to digest bits and pieces as you read the book. Here is some of the information I learned that I have never read from any other source:
- How to make wind calls based on sea conditions (ie: size of the waves)
- How to time your shots between waves and synchronize your breath rate with them
- An in depth discussion on environmental factors such as how water temperature effects air temperature, which as we know effects external ballistics.
- A detailed look at shooting through the different types of glass that can be found on large ships
- Where is the best position on a ship for a sniper to place himself and how to construct a steady firing position once he gets there.
We’ve got a lot more great book reviews here on SOFREP.com. Just type “book review” in the search box at the top and you’ll find them.
(Featured Image Courtesy: UK Ministry of Defence/Flickr)