Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell [and Contributor: Patrick Robinson] Now Available on Blu-ray/DVD/Instant Video!

Lone available in Hardcover, Audio
CD; Paperback, and as an e-book (Kindle Edition).
Amazon Prices for Hardcover (Illustrated) is $18.54;
Paperback: $12.33; Mass Market Paperback: $8.10;
Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook: $12.80; Audible
Edition (unabridged): $10.49 or 1 credit. For those
who look for bargains in printed books, a used
book may be purchased for $ .95 (+$3.99 Sh/h).
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     The author of this intriguing and newsworthy book is Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson as a contributor). This book is the result of Marcus Luttrell's desire to memorialize the harrowing events of 2005 when Seal team 10 undertook an assignment to capture or kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. That mission failed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marcus Luttrell grew up on his family's farm in Texas with an unflagging desire to become a Navy Seal. Mr. Luttrell relates, in his book, anecdotes about his brothers, father, mother, and neighbors. We get a first-hand glimpse of what it was like to grow up in Texas with his single-minded and all-consuming desire to prepare himself to become a Navy Seal.

Marcus and team. Left to Right: Matthew Axelson, Daniel R. Healey,
James Suh, Marcus Luttrell, Eric S. Patton, and Michael P. Murphy. Of the
four-man Operation Redwing Team, only Danny Dietz is not in this photo.
     We also get to see pride in his family, his coun- try, and his desire to be so good that he could be count- ed among the best in the world--to be a Navy Seal. Early on in the book, Marcus Luttrell describes each of his teammates and their character- istics. He is not stingy in his praise of those team- mates and friends.

SEAL TEAM 10: In describing SGT2 Matthew Gene Axelson, nicknamed "Axe," he not only shares that Axe was his brother Morgan's best friend, but that he was a "supreme athlete" who was "swift," and "violent [and] brutal if necessary" [p.16]. Axe was married to Cindy and devoted to family.

     Marcus Luttrell's best friend, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, (leader of the four man team, Operation Redwing) is described by Luttrell as an honors graduate from Penn State, and that Murphy had been an "inveterate reader." Murphy, he explains, had a vast amount of experience in the Middle East ("having served in Jordan, Qatar, and Djibouti in Africa) (p.17).

   Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Phillip Dietz, Jr. of Littleton, Colorado was poshumously awarded the United States' second hightest citation for valor, the Navy Cross, on September 13, 2006. Danny was married to Maria and lived in Virginia Beach. Luttrell says of Danny that he was a "sweet-natured person," but you shouldn't upset him because he was really like a "caged tiger and a great Navy Seal" (p. 182).


Robinson resides in Cape Cod during the summer and in
England the rest of the year.
     Contributing to the book is Patrick Robinson. As the picture indicates, he is at his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he assisted Marcus Luttrell in writing the book, Lone Survivor. Robinson's Cape Cod home is where he lives in the summer; Robinson resides in England the rest of the time. Best known for his United States Navy-based novels, he has also penned an international bestseller, One Hundred Days, the autobiog- raphy of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward.

     Looking at the book cover (above) we can tell a lot about the subject of today's book review. The title, Lone Survivor, clearly indicates tragedy and loss of life. Marcus Luttrell chronicles the events and the loss of each of the members of Seal Team 10. Luttrell not only graphically portrays the loss of his fellow team members, but clearly tells of their courage and how each lived and died by the Seal code of "Honor, Courage, [and] Commitment" (p. 78).

Marcus Luttrell: (Out of uniform, and in)
During the four days he struggled to survive,
he received not only shrapnel wounds, and a
gunshot wound, but several fractures. He also broke
his back after two Taliban RPGs nearly killed him.
He crawled miles to get to help.
     Marcus Luttrell saw each of his friends and teammates die a hero's death. Marcus was, himself, plagued with injuries--it would have been easy to just lie down and quit. Instead, Marcus recalled Axe's dying request, "You stay alive, Marcus. And tell Cindy I love her." Luttrell reasoned that if he were killed, "who then would ever know what my buddies had done? And how hard and bravely they had fought? No. It was all up to me. I had to get out and tell our story" (p. 264).

     At that point, Marcus reassessed his situation and considered that SEALS fight in teams, "only in teams," and "backing up" each other, but there where he was, being hunted down, he was "all alone--this was entirely another game." Luttrell decided that he "...needed to learn to fight all over again, not like a Navy SEAL, but like a secretive Afghan mountain man...stealthily, staying out of sight, making no sound, causing no disturbance" (p. 275).
U.S. Navy Seals Trident emblem.

     What follows is a harrowing flight from Taliban soldiers tracking his every move through the mountains, and a monumental struggle to survive dehydration, pain, and blood loss.

WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:  First, as far back as I know of in my family, men and women have joined and been part of military service...including my husband as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy. Many of my family members have died serving our country including my uncle, brother and son. Other members of our family who served in horrific wars (e.g. WWII.) and battles (Battle of the Bulge) came home changed and were never the same young men they had once been. I have a profound love and respect for the young men and women who serve our country in military service.

     The young men comprising the Navy Seals, as a group, are considered to be the among the best, most elite of fighting units in the world. It was a SEAL team (SEAL Team 6) who took out Osama bin Laden. On almost any list you look at (of the top fighting forces in the world), the U.S. Navy SEALS will, invariably, be in the top ten list. THE TOP TEN MOST POWERFUL FORCES IN THE WORLD lists the U.S. Navy Seal unit in the number one spot.

     The book contains an amazing story about how Marcus Luttrell became a SEAL. It chronicles his determination and grit in getting through the SEAL training. Following on the heels of the training is a monumental story of courage, sacrifice and love of friends, country, and family. . . and an amazing set of circumstances for Marcus Luttrell to have survived!

A scene from the movie, Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg as
Marcus Luttrell, and Ali Suliman as Gulab (in the center). Gulab
was one of the Pashtun people. The village offered "lokhay" to Marcus
Luttrell, hospitality that put the village on the line.
     The one negative critique I have of the book is the early-on writing (up to say...about at 40% of the book). For example, in Chapter two the topics jump wildly from wrestling alligators for fun to Pope John Paul would have been a good SEAL, to snakes, to his mom's horse training abilities, to the Texas oil industry, the crash of 1986, to losing the farm, to his Dad's qualities, being a bouncer at a redneck bar, his dad teaching him to shoot straight, swimming, General Douglas MacArthur, training with Billy (in preparation for becoming a SEAL), etc. I realize he's reminiscing, but I got whiplash in Chapter Two.

     Also, Luttrell makes no apologies for being outspoken in his criticism of certain government policies and also of the press. If those topics offend you as a person, then this book is not for will feel angry and agitated. If, however, your brand of patriotism is akin to that of the Texan's views, then you will loudly cheer Marcus's all in your vantage point.

THE MOVIE:  The movie, Lone Survivor, is slated for release to theaters on January 10, 2014. No matter your political views, Marcus Luttrell's story is nothing short of amazing. I loved it! I look forward to seeing the movie starring Mark Wahlburg as Marcus Luttrell; Taylor Kitsch will portray Michael Murphy, Emile Hirsch, Danny Dietz, Ben Foster will play Axe (Axelson), Yousuf Azami will play the Shah, Erik Kristensen will be played by Eric Bana, and Ali Suliman will play "Gulab," the man who saves Luttrell. Peter Berg is the writer and Director. Please enjoy the trailer:

To an American, especially one in such terrible shape as I was, the concept of helping out a dying man is pretty routine. You do what you can. For these guys, the concept carried many onerous responsibilities. Lokhay means not only providing care and shelter, it means an unbreakable commitment to defend that wounded man to the death. And not just the death of the principal tribesman or family who made the original commitment for the giving of a pot. It means the whole damned village. Lokhay means the population of that village will fight to the last man, honor-bound to protect the individual they have invited in to share their hospitality...nonnegotiable. (p. 285)

Afghan hero, Gulab, the Pashtun
tribesman who rescued Luttrell.
  Later, after having finished the book, I learned that Gulab was forced to leave his home and possessions, and truck, and that his lumber business was burned to the ground by the Taliban, and that he and his family continue to receive death threats. Because of his assisting Luttrell, Gulab became exiled from his home and it is unlikely he will ever see it again. Eventually, Gulab moved his family to California where he is trying to get his life started after having lost everything. In spite of all this, Gulab says that he had no regrets "...for what my family, my fellow villagers and I have done....We knew what the Taliban's reaction would be from the day we carried him in our door." (From, The Afghan Village That Saved Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, by Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau, 11-08-13.)

MY RATING AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THIS BOOK: I wanted to give this book a 5 star rating simply because of the subject matter and because it is written by a national hero. Also, as I said above, because I love our service men and women, am proud of them, and give them utter respect and admiration. However much I feel that way, the book was a little too full of political slant and a bit too much jumping back and forth in topics--in the first 40% of the book. The parts about the training of Navy SEALS were very interesting, and without a doubt, the latter half of the book was exciting and quite a page turner. For these reasons, I give the book a very good rating of 4.0 stars out of 5. I look forward to seeing the movie, as well.

Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell.
"Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell was raised on
his parents' horse ranch in Texas. He joined
the United States Navy in March 1999, was
awarded his Trident as a combat-trained
Navy SEAL in January 2002, and joined
SEAL Team 5 in Baghdad in April 2003. In
the spring of 2005 he was deployed to
Afghanistan. He was awarded the Navy
Cross for combat heroism in 2003 by
President Bush" (Kindle Location 5353.).
Four Stars out of Five.

      I hope you have enjoyed the book review, this week, of Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor. Join me next week for a new book review.

Until next time...
White Roses.

...many happy pages of reading.

Pages: 390
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
__________________________________________ - Book cover image; - Marcus and team; - Patrick Robinson, Author; - Marcus Luttrell (in and out of uniform); - Navy Seal Trident emblem; - Gulab; - The Afghan Village That Saved Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell;,29569,2069886,00.html - SEAL Team 6 and Osama bin Laden; - Top Ten List; - Gulab; - About the Author: Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell; - 4 stars out of 5; - White Roses.