Touching the Dragon

And Other Techniques for Surviving Life's Wars
Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith, James Hatch
Length: 13 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (466 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Jimmy Hatch is a personal hero of mine.” (Anderson Cooper)

“Irresistible. . . . A wounded SEAL’s shame becomes a salvation.” (J. Ford Huffman, Military Times)

James Hatch is a former special ops Navy SEAL senior chief, master naval parachutist, and expert military dog trainer and handler. On his fateful final mission in Afghanistan, his SEAL team was sent to recover Bowe Bergdahl - the soldier who deserted his post and fell into the hands of Al-Qaida and the Taliban. The mission went south, and Hatch was left with a shattered femur from an AK-47 round and the SEAL dog who fought alongside him was dead. As a result of his horrific leg wound, his 24-year military career came to an end - and with it the only life he’d ever known. 

In Touching the Dragon, we witness his long road to recovery. Getting well physically required 18 surgeries, 12 months of recovery, and learning to walk again. But getting well mentally would prove to be much tougher, as he fought through the depths of despair, alcoholism, and the pull to end his own life. What emerges is a different kind of hero’s journey, one in which Hatch shows the courage it takes to confess, confront, and overcome his own brokenness. Through the love of family, friends, and his military dogs, Hatch learned remarkable tools and found his purpose, and now he wants to share this wisdom with the rest of us because we all have wounds.

©2018 James Hatch, Christian D'Andrea (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Jimmy Hatch has managed to write a love story out of a war story. The love he has found for those he protected, those he fought with, the dogs he depended on. And finally he found a way to love himself." (Kenny Mayne, ESPN anchor; host, Kenny Mayne's Wider World of Sports)

"This book touched me like no other personal account of battle I've read. Though a special operator who saw more engagements than most, Jimmy Hatch offers no boast or bravado. Instead he describes his unique experiences - and the wars that have shaped this generation of fighting men and women - with provocative insight, calm stoicism, and thoughtful but frustrated understanding. But it is how he has taken those experiences and applied them to his post-trauma life that makes this comparable to Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier. An exceptional read." (Mark Hertling, LTG, US Army, retired)

"There are plenty of books full of daring wartime exploits, but I haven't come across any book that reveals with such honesty and openness, the 'second war' that Jimmy and other special operators must fight when they come back to a society that seems so alien to them, a society completely divorced from the purity of combat." (Anderson Cooper)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Rare Honesty - Raw and Well Written

James Hatch, in sharing his story, has given us a gift. He stripped away the ever present emotional body armor most veterans wear to show us the vulnerable human inside. I won't even try to give a synopsis because there is just too much. His word choice and selection of detail elevates the reader to a place of understanding. As a part of the "non-military" audience, I didn't feel lost in overbearing military jargon. Instead, it was as if the author takes the reader by the hand and teaches us to see his world from the inside out. He efficiently builds characters through the use of nicknames. Usually, this treatment runs the risk of developing flat or stagnant characters. Because of the first person narrative, as the story unfolds, the reader understands that the host of characters undergo dynamic changes together, because that is the only way it can happen. No one walked away unchanged from these events. His rhythm in the telling is spot on. He took me on a roller coaster of emotions and I found myself crying and cheering, feeling despair and then hope. He alludes to books and philosophical concepts in a way that adds to the meaning for those who are familiar with them, yet doesn't detract for those who are unfamiliar with them. This added scaffold of meaning makes the book equally accessible to a wide audience. His message is important and so needed in our culture. I'm glad that I listened to the book first because I think hearing it added to the immediacy of the story and gave power to his truth.

13 people found this helpful

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Audiobooks just do not get better than this one.

I've listened to A LOT of Audiobooks. This is my FIRST review. I cannot say enough good things about this book... I've listened to many that I felt were exceptional, but this is the first one I couldn't 'not' review. The story is outstanding in so many ways and the performance by the narrator is, well, perfect. Maybe better than perfect.

Yes, it's a war book but it's sooooooooooooo much more. If you appreciate what America's fighting forces do around the world in the name of the Red, White and Blue you should give it a listen. This is a book that really, really, REALLY makes you appreciate the fact that the rest of us sleep peacefully here at home because rough men are doing very nasty work around the world on civilization's behalf. This book is an excellent reflection of that work, and the costs that lie therein.

12 people found this helpful

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Jimmy Hatch is a hero ..

Great book, well written with an incredible ending to the life of one of America’s unsung heroes. Thanks for all you’ve done Jimmy to Law enforcement community. Keep pushing forward my friend ...

6 people found this helpful

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memoirs from an elite soldier...and then some

if your looking a soldier's book and honest view this is a gopd read. then he takes it to a brutally honest battle of his worst fears, his failure as a soldier, tier 1 operator and as a man. in his eyes only.
dealing with his demons and sharing his chaos and what he did and does is the next level.

4 people found this helpful

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Emotional and Moving

Narrative was well thought out. Kept me engaged with the Author through all his struggle and guilt. I have struggled with the agonizing guilt of having my own dog get killed for over 10 years any perhaps this will help me work to understand to deal with this part of life that is not always fair. Would highly recommend this to anyone.

4 people found this helpful

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Great Book

A real insight into the struggles some of our vets (my self included) go through after completion of our service.

4 people found this helpful

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Great listen

Narrations don't usually make or break a book for me, but this one was especially good. Coupled with a good story, this was a very powerful listen.

4 people found this helpful

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Brave dive into a warrior’s life

This book is an intense experience. I am not a person that normally likes to read or view negative books or films as the world gives enough of that every day. This book though was a pleasure although it makes a deep dive into difficult topics. The author dispels romanticized versions of being a warrior and lays his PTS and struggles for everyone to see which is an unbelievably brave thing for a stoic tier one warrior to do. By doing this he is opening up a dialogue for all of us to make a move forward in our own lives particularly the dangerous professions like the military and EMS that struggle with PTS and stoic independent personalities. As a career wildland fire fighter I greatly appreciate the ballsy move the author has made by putting this story out into the world. Our profession struggles with PTS and other problems so the situations are highly relatable. It is also a well written and riveting read right to the very end. Thank you very much for writing this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • KB
  • 12-28-18

Outstanding

This is a deeply personal, moving account of James Hatch’s life during and after his exemplary military service. Mr. Hatch is humble beyond words and provides insight into the real face of war and the struggles so many veterans deal with as a result. The book is perfectly balanced between clearing up the tough guy mystique of battle and the mystique that tough guys don’t hurt. Many thanks to Mr. Hatch for sharing his experiences so that others may survive as well. All the Best. KMB.

3 people found this helpful

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Great book

Honest and raw account of what soldiers face post deployment and after injury. Highly recommend.

3 people found this helpful