SHOCK FACTOR by Jack  Coughlin


American Snipers in the War on Terror
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Grim account of combat tours in Iraq, where Marine and National Guard snipers made a crucial difference.

Retired USMC Gunnery Sgt. Coughlin (co-author: Time to Kill, 2013, etc.), who co-authored this book with prolific military writer Bruning (co-author: Level Zero Heroes, 2014, etc.), writes of his fellow snipers, “[b]eing called a murderer comes with the territory....we have been the most misunderstood and marginalized community in the American military.” Whether despite or because of this fearsome reputation, the author argues that snipers are the key to force protection and battlefield superiority in America’s recent conflicts: “[P]recision marksmanship can destroy a numerically superior foe’s will to fight.” The narrative focuses on several brutal Iraq War campaigns, including the initial race to Baghdad (in which Coughlin participated) and the 2005 siege of the city of Ramadi. The telling is fast-paced and violent, the tone often bitter: The authors seemingly view most Iraqis as ungrateful, cowardly collaborators (or in one disturbing encounter, vicious torturers) yet portray the Iraq campaign itself as a vital aspect of the global war on terror. They also castigate the military bureaucracy for its restrictive rules of engagement but revere the snipers themselves, capturing their camaraderie and self-reliance. Even in the sectarian bloodbath of Iraq, “they had the opportunity to do what we snipers do best. They located, closed with, and destroyed the enemy with long-range precision fire that minimized civilian casualties.” Beyond the realistic depictions of urban combat, the book’s strength is its in-depth discussion of the elite snipers’ weapons, training and tactics. The authors demystify this arcane military specialty, as when explaining why the snipers worked with spotters in combat: "There are so many factors that need to be kept track of for a long-range shot, you really need two brains working together to be most effective."

Will appeal to veteran and aspiring warriors, as well as conservative readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1250016553
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014


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