Realistic overview of an often misunderstood fighting force.



Though Templin is a co-author, the bulk of this book belongs to Wasdin, a veteran of the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident who reflects on his service and life after the Navy SEALs.

While most are aware that the SEALs are America’s military elite, few know that “[w]hen the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six,” a group tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Wasdin saw combat with Team Six, following an unusual Navy career and a hardscrabble early life. He stolidly discusses an impoverished Southern childhood of farm work and frequent beatings by his stepfather: “Leon didn’t kill me, but anything that was not done exactly right, I paid for.” The author was drawn to the discipline of JROTC in high school; unable to afford college, he signed up for the Navy’s Search and Rescue program in the early ’80s. After distinguishing himself on risky helicopter-borne operations, he re-enlisted in exchange for a tryout in the notoriously difficult SEALs training program. Wasdin ably portrays this harrowing experience, particularly Hell Week, which was designed to weed out applicants. As a SEAL, Wasdin picked the grueling specialty of sniper; he saw action in Grenada, and received a Navy Commendation Medal in 1991 for covert operations during Desert Storm. The heart of the book is the ill-fated Battle of Mogadishu, where SEAL Team Six first operated a safe house in enemy territory, then became involved in the protracted firefight around two downed helicopters; Wasdin’s grave wounds ended his SEAL career. The author demonstrates an impressive attention to detail, vividly recalling the chronology of several violent missions and comfortably discussing the nitty-gritty of the SEALs’ uncompromising training and cutting-edge equipment and tactics. The writing is plainspoken and not overly reflective—the author doesn’t consider how his difficult upbringing might have contributed to his warrior’s nature. Still, as he describes his exit from military life, Wasdin gives a good sense of how confronting warfare and bloody death has ultimately made him a more contemplative and faithful person.

Realistic overview of an often misunderstood fighting force.

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-69945-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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