For this review (and for once in my life), I am going to set aside my soapbox about animal cruelty because, frankly, there is a lot of it in Howard Wasdin’s SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper, and I could rant endlessly about WTF our military are doing gunning down kangaroos for an Aussie farmer, but instead I am going to focus on the rest of this book…which is excellent. One of the best military biographies I’ve read.
Wasdin does an excellent job of describing BUDS training, and then he goes beyond that and describes all the other aspects of training a SEAL undergoes to become one of the military’s elite. He can switch from funny to dead serious in a few words. He conveys the camaraderie and brotherhood among those who serve while being engaging but leaving the reader with no doubt that he is a highly effective sniper who does not hesitate to get the job done.
When Wasdin describes the Battle of Mogadishu, it is gut wrenching and graphic. I kept thinking, “My God, he is not going to make it!” and then remembering that he lived to write the book! Despite having read Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down and having seen the movie, I still found Wasdin’s account gripping. He brings a completely different perspective and a lot more information about the battle itself. He does not hesitate to point out what went wrong and why, and he names those whose corruption and inaction worsened and prolonged the situation from the Italians to the UN to the Clinton administration.
Perhaps his finest point is this:
We shouldn’t have become involved in Somalia’s civil war – this was their problem, not ours – but once we committed, we should’ve finished what we started: a lesson we are required to keep relearning over and over again.
Wasdin’s struggle after the battle is very personal. He addresses his depression, his withdrawal, an inability to relate to civilians, and a sense of isolation brought on by being separated from his team. His recovery is introspective and inspiring.