Author: Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson
First Published: 2007
Page Count: 392
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A unique tale of heroism during the war in Afghanistan that opens civilian eyes to the challenges of this war and modern warfare, as well as pays tribute to the brave fallen.
*Interesting storyline *Unique perspective on modern war
*Slow moving at some parts *Slow build up to the main story
“I will never quit. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies.” Marcus Luttrell joined his U.S. Navy SEAL team on a reconnaissance mission in the mountainous Afghanistan to locate a notorious al Qaeda leader and, if possible, capture him or take him out. However, in one of the deadliest battles the Navy SEALS have ever faced, Marcus found himself alone. He was the lone survivor of a fierce firefight and this story chronicles his battle to stay alive and find his way home to tell the world about the brave men that died valiantly serving their country.
After thoroughly enjoying American Sniper and hearing about Luttrell’s story, I knew I had to check this book out. I will admit, I enjoyed American Sniper a bit more than this book because that book seemed to move at a faster, more thrilling pace and I really liked Chris Kyle’s voice as the narrator. However, this is a very interesting story about a particular mission in the Afghan war versus the broad overview we get of the war in Kyle’s book. There are deadly shoot outs between the SEALS and the Taliban, along with sections that record from first hand experience just how ruthless and cold these international terrorists can be. But, there is also the unexpected and uplifting second half of the book that also shows the goodness of humanity that can exist even in the most hellish of places (I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t already heard how Luttrell manages to survive). And, what I found the most unique about this book was the perspective Luttrell gives us from the point of a member of the military. These servicemen are not fighting in the 1800s; this is the twenty-first century and they have to contend with so much more pressure than their ancestors had to on the battlefield. The effects of liberal media and politics, especially in relation to this mission, have nearly tied the hands of our military and its incredible that they manage to get the job done with so much judgement and restriction hanging over their heads. That topic in and of itself could turn into a long post so I’ll leave it at that, but, if you couldn’t tell, this book leans to the conservative right. That’s perfectly cool with me, but if that last couple of lines got you fired up in defense of the liberal side of the fence, this book is probably not for you.
Unlike the film version of this book which drops you right into the beginning of the mission, Lone Survivor the book takes us through the rigorous training the SEALS undergo before introducing us to the main plot of the book. I think this is a good way to illustrate just how maddeningly tough these U.S. warriors are and it helps to acquaint us to our main character, but having read American Sniper and watching some documentaries on the Navy SEALS training program, I was well read in what they have to go through to earn their place. I wanted to get to the main story and see how Luttrell managed to escape. It takes awhile to get to that part of the book and once your there, the story stalls at some points when Luttrell is trying to catch his breath or lay low.
If you’re looking for a book on interesting modern warfare stories, this wouldn’t be my first choice, but I would suggest that you eventually read it. There was nothing like this event ever in Navy SEALS history and for that reason alone the book stands apart. I also suggest reading the book instead of just seeing the film. The movie changes a lot of what Luttrell says actually happened in favor of a more interesting film and isn’t able to powerfully emphasize certain aspects that Luttrell draws to our attention in the book. Every American citizen should be required to read at least one of these books that chronicles what the military faces when they step onto the battlefield. If these men and women can selflessly give their lives to fight for our freedom, the least we could do is educate ourselves on what it really is like on the battlefield. Maybe required reading in high school alongside novels like The Great Gatsby? Seeing war first hand through the eyes of a soldier would give everyone a better appreciation and understanding of their sacrifice and every book I read about our fighting forces deepens my gratitude and awe at our troops. Though I often think America could use a bigger dose of reality about what we’re facing, I’m always grateful that books like these get written so that these stories get told properly.
*Film Adaptation: (Starring Mark Wahlberg 2013)