The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice
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Inspirational narrative focused on the friendship between Marine Travis Manion and Navy SEAL Brendan Looney, Naval Academy roommates who fell in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2007, co-author Manion, who wrote this book with columnist Sileo, endured the nightmare of any military family: the loss of his son. Following Looney’s death, Manion writes, “it became clear that the story of these two American heroes was representative of an entire young generation of men and women who answered the call to serve.” Manion and Looney were competitive athletes at Annapolis when their futures were reshaped by 9/11: “[With] the stakes for Travis and Brendan much higher, their frequent runs became even more intense.” Manion was first to serve multiple tours, prior to his death while protecting others from a sniper in Fallujah. His loss traumatized the survivors, including Looney, who redoubled his efforts to join the elite SEALs. After his death in a helicopter crash in 2010, their grieving families decided to re-inter Manion to lie alongside Looney at Arlington. The symbolism of their mutual sacrifice was even marked by President Barack Obama in a 2011 address. Readers will undoubtedly respect the dedication of the book’s subjects and the loss borne by Manion, but the storytelling does not match the gravity of its subject. The prose relies on mawkish repetition, emphasizing the heartbreak that came with military service following 9/11: “Americans were still dying in Afghanistan and Iraq almost every week, and many more funerals were expected.” While focused on the anguish caused by the losses of Travis and Brendan, the authors examine Iraq and Afghanistan as a campaign of professional warriors versus evil, a stance that becomes dissonant—though the authors acknowledge the widening gulf between soldiers’ experiences and the perspectives of politicians and the public.

Enthusiasts of military heroics should enjoy this grueling account of valor.

Pub Date: May 13th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-306-82237-7
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Da Capo
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2014


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