LONE SURVIVOR: THE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF OPERATION REDWING AND THE LOST HEROES OF SEAL TEAM 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
In 2005, Marcus Luttrell and three other members of SEAL Team 10 began tracking a Taliban leader in the mountains of Afghanistan, a mission called Operation Redwing. But when several Afghan goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs, Marcus and his teammates made a decision that would cost them their lives. Unsure of whether the goat herders had allegiance to the Taliban, and unwilling to execute them for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes upon their return to the States, the SEALs released them. The goat herders immediately reported the SEALs to the Taliban, who had them surrounded within hours. In the bloodbath that followed, Marcus’ three teammates on the ground—as well as every SEAL in the rescue copter that came to help them—were killed. Marcus survived (barely) and struggled to evade the Taliban warriors who were tracking him through the wilderness, hoping for a rescue he wasn’t sure would ever come. But ironically given the source of the SEALs’ betrayal, Marcus’ salvation would also come in the form of Afghan goat herders.
Lone Survivor is part biography, part military history, and part survival narrative. As far as the writing/storytelling goes, it took me a really long time to get into the book. The first half was a bit scattered and confusing as it jumped back and forth in time and in and out of story and political commentary; it took me a really long time to get into it, and I almost gave up. But about halfway through, beginning with Luttrell’s description of SEAL BUD/S training, the narrative got more straightforward, and it became very engaging. The account of the battle is gruesome, horrifying, and heartbreaking. I have not seen the movie yet, but my brother, who is in the Navy, has this to say, “The movie was better, even though I know the book was more accurate. The movie was more believable, because it was simplified, and when you hear everything those SEALs went through it is so crazy it’s hard to believe.” He also says the storytelling in the movie flows better, which does not surprise me now that I have read the book. I do hope to see the film someday, but it will have to be at a time when it doesn’t matter if I have a few sleepless nights. A horrifying and thought-provoking account of the reality of war, and a heartfelt tribute to the friends Marcus lost.