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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (abridged audiobook) by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson

Abridged Audiobook
5 CDs
Approximately 6 hours.
Read by Kevin T. Collins

I first heard the incredible story of Marcus Luttrell while hearing him tell his story on Glenn Beck's radio show. I'm not a frequent listener of Glenn's show but this story was so compelling I had to hear the whole thing.

Lone Survivor is a much longer version of that story. It includes a long, detailed description of how Navy SEALs train and their "Hell Week" that washes out those who are not truly dedicated to being a SEAL. Luttrell also tells us about his childhood and how he aspired to be a member of a special forces unit as a young man in high school.

Marcus Luttrell
The bulk of the book is about "Operation Redwing" - an attempt to kill or capture a Taliban leader that remains unnamed in the book (he uses a false name for this man throughout the book). The operation consists of inserting 4 SEALs in open mountain territory in Afghanistan to observe a remote village where this leader may or may not be staying.

Operation Redwing has difficulties from the beginning, including a lack of cover to hide behind while observing the village and extremely steep terrain. Not long into the operation 3 Afghan goatherders stumple upon the 4 SEALs and nearly 100 Taliban soldiers start to hunt the 4 SEALs.

Luttrell's tale of how his comrades died one by one in an intense running firefight is gripping and awe-inspiring. Eventually, Luttrell is the last one alive, although he is also shot in the leg and suffers from any number of cuts, bruises and a broken nose. He uses every trick he learned in survival training and a few that he learned as avid hunter back in Texas and is eventually rescued by an anti-Taliban village that risks the lives of the entire village by daring to take him in.

The insignia of the Navy SEALs
Unlike another autobiographical tale of our current wars that I've recently read, Joker One, the strength of this book is not its writing. It is co-written by Patrick Robinson who lets Luttrell's voice come through loud and clear. If you are easily offended by liberal use of swear words as adjectives, this will not be the book for you. However, having known a few soldiers over the years I found it lent a good deal of authenticity to let Luttrell describe the battle as he normally would.

No, the strength of the book is the power of the story itself. The decision to spare the lives of the goatherders (who presumably left the SEALs and immediately informed the Taliban), the vicious firefight, the loss of Luttrell's companions, the story of the village that rescued him, the pain his family went through when they believed he had also been killed... The story is so strong that it demands and deserves to be heard, even if its prose is not Pulitzer Prize material.

Highly recommended.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Lone Survivor

Reviewed August 21, 2010.


  1. I read few books because of my crushing work schedule. However, I have read and reread this book three times. It's absolutely unbelievable.
    I'm in awe of Marcus and of all of our country's special operations people.

  2. If you liked this book, you'll probably like Joker One. I mentioned it in my review and linked it. It is the true story of a Marine Lt. in Iraq. It was the best book I read in 2009.