No Easy Day is the first hand account from a Navy Seal from Seal Team 6 of the life of a Seal and the takedown of Osama Bin Laden. When I started reading this book I did not expect it to read like a Tom Clancy novel, but it does. It is a short book but it is told well and gives the reader a real sense of what it is like to be a seal every day, not just on May 1, 2011.
I expected to hear a tale of bravado in dealing with the legendary difficulties of seal training. There was necessarily some of this but what surprised me was the telling of Owen’s insecurity of whether he could make it combined with a strong confidence in his capabilities. Simple mistakes during training could wash out a prospective candidate. This is a well told personal story.
The other thing that I learned from No Easy Day was the number of missions that these teams carry out each year largely resulting from actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. At times these teams are in action every week to clear buildings and capture or kill bad guys. Each of these actions put the seal team members in life threatening situations that civilians can barely imagine. Owens describes in detail several larger operations, including a takedown of an “impenetrable” mountain enclave of Taliban fighters.
He describes the evolution of tactics from zip lining from a helicopter onto a building, “Flying to the X”, to landing a few kilometers away and marching with stealth to the target. Many of the tactics used by bad guys exploit the changing rules of engagement that the soldiers need to follow. For example, when confronted they would make sure their weapons were out of reach so the seals would not be allowed to shoot them. At one point, after reading of so many tactical “secrets” I did begin to wonder if the bad guys could take advantage of this information. On reflection, the bad guys already know all of these tactics and it is the civilian readers who are learning them in this book.
From my perspective this was not a political book. Although it is clear that many seals do not favor the Obama administration this is a minor part of the story. Releasing this book has of course raised many eyes as actions by seals are supposed to be kept secret. In the book the team members made jokes about who would play each other when the Takedown of Bin Laden movie is released. Perhaps Owen just wanted to make sure the script was accurate. Whatever the motives for writing this book were, the result is that the military now has the most powerful recruiting tool that can be produced.
This is a fast paced, well written, timely and interesting book and I give it a good read.
This book is one of the first you should turn to in order to understand how we got into our current economic & financial fix in the United States (and the rest of the developed world). It is well-written, well-read, moves along at a good clip, and provides an excellent explication of the derivatives/credit default swaps slice of the crisis without being too technical. It should be understandable to the lay reader. Certainly in 10 years time there will be better & more comprehensive books than this one about the crisis, but right now it is one of the best. Highly recommended.