In a debut memoir, a young Navy SEAL describes his maturation as a military leader.
Redman introduces himself as an arrogant junior SEAL officer who, ignoring contrary orders, went to the aid of comrades under fire in Afghanistan only to learn that his actions actually placed their lives at increased risk. Shunned as a showboating hothead, he was exiled to the Army Rangers for further training. During this time, he came to admit the reality of his shortcomings and acquired a more mature, humble and selfless approach to leadership. He redeemed himself fighting in Iraq until near-fatal injuries required him to take up the physical challenges of recovery and consider his motivations once again. An intensely introspective book, it is less about training and battles, though these are stirringly described, than about Redman's evolving mental state. This is unusual for a combat memoir, as military men are not generally given to such self-awareness, at least in print. As a result, however, the narrative lacks dramatic conflict, as much of the story consists of the author describing his perceptions and internal changes rather than demonstrating them through events. While he is unstinting in his self-criticism, much of the writing otherwise adheres to the tiresome conventions of military adventure: His colleagues are always thoroughly dedicated "warriors" (or, more clinically, "operators") and sterling fellows all, his lovely wife and children are unfailingly and wholeheartedly supportive of whatever he is doing, and so forth, none of which is either credible or perceptive. For all Redman’s declarations of newfound humility, it seems that everything is still ultimately about him, even as he struggles through his medical rehabilitation with the single-minded goal of leaving his long-suffering family behind once again to give himself another crack at his nation's foes.
A curiously unsatisfying memoir of personal development through service in an elite military team, introspective but not very insightful.