Written By: Mark Owen, Kevin Maurer
Narrated By: Holter Graham
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Date: September 2012
Duration: 6 hours 50 minutes
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No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden (2012) is a military memoir by a former member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) who participated in the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. The book was written by Matt Bissonnette under the pen name Mark Owen. It details Owen’s career with DEVGRU, including several combat missions in which he participated with the unit. At least half of the book focuses on Owen’s participation in the mission that killed bin Laden.
No Easy Day Audiobook Summary
The #1 New York Times bestselling first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy SEAL who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moments.
From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group—known as SEAL Team Six—has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines.
No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and his fellow SEAL team members as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.
In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers into the War on Terror and details the formation of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes several missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11.
In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe.
Owen and his publisher’s decision to release the book without first submitting it for United States Department of Defense (DoD) review generated controversy. The DoD claims that the book contains classified information, which the book’s publisher denies. In late August 2012, advance publicity increased the initial print run from 300,000 copies to 575,000. This ultimately led the publisher to release the book on September 4, a week earlier than the originally planned September 11 release date. It also made the New York Times bestseller list.
No Easy Day Audiobook Reviews
I feel I have to title my review this way because although I’m very glad this event happened, and I have boundless admiration for the people who participated in the raid, including the author, I can’t honestly say it was a great book.
To be fair to ‘Mark Owen’, his ghostwriter, Kevin Maurer, does bear some responsibility for taking a tired, pseudo military thriller approach to the story. The first half of the book is a very mediocre, dramatized ‘montage’ approach to what it takes to be a Navy Seal and rise up through the ranks to do the type of special operations detailed in the book. As heart-pounding action-thrillers go, it’s lacking in the kind of tangible, humanizing elements that elevate good stories of this kind out of the G.I. Joe stereotype.
The second half of the book deals with the raid itself in a very dry, accurate and factual way. It paints a clear picture of the anti-climactic demise of Osama Bin Laden. It probably would have taken a ghost writer with superior skills to Maurer’s to forge the rising anticipation, the fear, the frustrations into a more gripping read/listen.
I need to make it clear that I’m not dissing the Navy Seal. I’m just saying a better ghost writer might have done more to bring his story to life.
Many critics have questioned this author’s motives for writing the book, and I think the end of the story really exposes them. He’s clearly not in it for the money – since most of the profits from this book are going to veteran’s charities. I think he’s a man who is bitter about the ‘spin’ the media and the administration gave the killing of Bin Laden, because having been an eye-witness to it, he feels the factual truth was good enough and didn’t require embellishment.
But he’s also a man, like many in front line positions, who holds tremendous animosity towards anyone with a say in military policy and decision-making who isn’t sitting beside him in combat gear, holding a firearm. I think most people who experience war on the front lines feel this way. But it sours the end of the book rather badly. Because the author is clearly not a fan of Obama, and says so often and, at times, in disparaging ways.
This book is a) a first hand account of the raid, b) a portrait of what these admirable and brave people go through to serve their country and c) a concerted effort on the part of the author to deny the present administration any share in the glory of Bin Laden’s final demise.
(Note to future administrations: If you say you’re going to have a beer with the guys your pinning medals on, you’d better keep your promise. Otherwise they end up bitter and write books like this one.)
And although I thoroughly commiserate with the author’s ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ feelings, I also think it does damage to the nobility of an account of what was a brave, courageous and well-implemented military action. I wouldn’t want to walk in Owen’s shoes, nor would I want to be responsible for making decisions about the fate of a whole country, its security, its economy and its place as superpower.
I think it may be a central flaw in attempting to write a first person account of this sort of experience too close to the actual event, without the distance of some time and consideration to put the events in proportion. There have been some outstanding first-person accounts of war, but rarely are they written so soon after the event.
The narration by Holter Graham was perfect for the material.
Shortly after the book’s announcement, Owen’s identity was revealed as Matt Bissonnette and the DoD confirmed that he was in fact the author. For media appearances, including an interview on 60 Minutes, Owen appeared incognito. In August 2016, he was ordered to return his royalties of US$6.8 million to the US federal government.
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In the book, Owen chronicles his upbringing in Alaska and his long desire to be a SEAL. Owen completed BUD/S training in 1999 and served with SEAL TEAM FIVE. He recounts the rigors of his entry into DEVGRU and describes several operations in which he participated with the group in Iraq and Afghanistan. Owen also discusses his involvement in the Maersk Alabama hijacking rescue operation in 2009. Throughout, he describes the camaraderie, professionalism, and dedication of his teammates during extremely demanding training and dangerous combat missions.
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