This was the first audiobook I've ever purchased and not a bad introduction at all. I'm no stranger to the genre, however. Go into it expecting the memoir that it is, not an edge-of-your-seat thriller or a technical readout of SEAL equipment. It was an intelligently written story worth telling, especially to provide additional perspective on significant American military events of the late 20th century, such as our attack on Grenada.
I found the author's tone positive, humble, very respectful, and extremely professional-surely a credit to the field in which the author has spent a distinguished career. This was certainly admirable, given the material about Marcinko. Indeed a refreshing perspective for fans of the genre.
Contrary to another listener's perspective, I was satisfied with the amount of material devoted to the author's experience at BUD/S, as that can be found anywhere, and more graphically.
I gave it three out of five stars, for two reasons. First, as noted, the narration was truly disappointing. This guy not only lacked the 'tough guy voice' that admittedly would have helped, he sounded like he should be reading ‘Crochet Monthly’ in a comfortable sweater, right after his manicure and vanilla latte with extra whip cream. This guy was the WRONG choice, which severely betrayed the subject matter. Not only that, he was just plain boring. He, not the story, made me laugh several times. Second, while it was a very satisfying book, it was simply not something I couldn't put down. Gormly's perspective on what America did wrong in Vietnam was a strong point, lucid, concise and probably very accurate. I enjoyed his perspective, as I have yet to come across another so digestible. Yet it was this very opining that left a bad taste in my mouth at the end. His political analysis of America's future problems was mundane, repetitive, and should be pretty obvious to the average news-watching citizen during the last twenty years.
While much of this material was truly fascinating, the narration of it was just plain boring. I listened, interested, to about half of this book. I simply could not manage to keep focused on it. The details are rich and woven together well, but eventually it just degenerates into a droning recital of historical text. There is only so much one can do to make history interesting. Unfortunately, that was not accomplished here. The material here could be really interesting, if presented differently.
This is the only book I've rated at five stars so far. What a difference it makes when it is narrated by the author, and done well! The emphasis was done as the author intended, with his understanding of the material, which simply can not be replicated. The danger then lies with the possibility that the voice simply doesn't fit. Berntsen's does, remarkably well.
The material itself was great too. Like another listener, I simply don't remember hearing much about our invasion of Afghansitan. Despite bin Laden's escape and Hussein's capture, I can't help but believe this attack was far more successful.
Of course, it was hard to digest the redacted bits, but their presence is ultimately forgivable, given the freshness of the material. Our operations are undoubtedly still going on in that nation. We have placed our trust in those individuals to accomplish a gritty task. Do we or do we not owe it to them to allow them to work in as safe an environment as we can create? If you don't understand this, imagine assaulting
a bank held by hostage-takers that are watching your every move on the nightly news. Wouldn't you want some secrecy to protect you?
I suppose if I had to fill a book with a story based on five shark attacks, I would be forced to include too much irrelevant background information too. I got this book for the same reason I think most people would. I want to hear about the shark. I thought there was just too much detail about the people, families and businesses of the era, and not enough about the shark and its horrific attacks on swimmers. What there was about the shark did meet my expectations, and the story kept moving, holding my interest all the way through.
Definitely not a spellbinding, on-the-edge-of-your-seat story, but well worth the listen. More so if you are curious about a sort of folk tale that Jaws was based on, but not if you are expecting any sort of scientific account of what went on.
The audio quality was great. The narration was well done, and the sound was clean.
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