Review of “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
I remember when I first heard about this event on the news. My first reaction was that it was a terrible waste of life. After reading Marcus Lutrell’s book, I still feel that way; but I have a lot more respect for the men involved.
The news report was sketchy. Four American Seals were caught in a battle with insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan. They got in trouble and called for reinforcements. The helicopter carrying those reinforcements was hit by an RPG as it tried to unload the soldiers. Everyone died. All of that training. All of that technology. And still everyone is killed but for one lone Navy Seal.
I now know what those Seals were doing in those mountains. And they had a goal that probably justified the risks. I also know a lot more about the men as individuals and what it took for them to be in that position. While those guys were out there in the rain, behind enemy lines, dealing with treacherous terrain and weather, I was probably riding a golf cart around somewhere looking for my ball. What a contrast.
The story told by Marcus is written in a very conversational tone. It’s almost like you’re sitting in a bar with him as he recounts what happened to him and his buddies. I didn’t even realize that he had a co-author until I read the acknowledgments. That’s how well his voice is carried throughout the book. He’ll tell a story about how an insurgent beat him and then end it by calling the insurgent “a little prick.” He uses some other colorful adjectives to describe them as well.
That kind of conversational tone makes the story real. That’s exactly how he probably told it. There is a lot of self deprecating humor. Here is a brief passage of Marcus describing his efforts to scale a mountain. “You’d have needed a chain saw to pry me off that cliff face. All I knew was, if I fell, I’d probably plummet several hundred feet to my death. Which was good for the concentration.”
Conflict is the driving force in any good story, and this one has it on almost every page. Even when he is describing the Navy Seal training, you come to realize the many obstacles they had to overcome to succeed. By the time you get into the mountains on the mission that cost so many lives, you come away with an appreciation for the scarifices these guys made. It’s truly amazing that anyone survived. And even Marcus admits that he would not have survived were it not for the help of a few brave Afghan villagers.
This is a great book. Read it. You’ll come a way with a new perspective on the military and the men and women who serve our country.