I must have done a pretty good job with my review on American Sniper last month, because it wasn't a week or two after I posted it that I got another email from the same publishers to review another book coming out called Outlaw Platoon, by Sean Parnell (With John R. Bruning). Since I really loved the last book they sent me, I couldn't wait to read another one!
I was drawn to Outlaw Platoon from first reading the jacket:
In combat, men measure up. Or don't. There are no second chances.
In this vivid account of the U.S. Army's legendary 10th Mountain Division's heroic stand in the mountains of Afghanistan, Captain Sean Parnell shares an action-packed and highly emotional true story of triumph, tragedy, and the extraordinary bonds forged in battle.
At twenty-four years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon—a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws—and was tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan's eastern frontier. Parnell and his men assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians, but in May 2006 what started out as a routine patrol through the lower mountains of the Hindu Kush became a brutal ambush. Barely surviving the attack, Parnell's men now realized that they faced the most professional and seasoned force of light infantry the U.S. Army had encountered since the end of World War II.
What followed was sixteen months of close combat, over the course of which the platoon became Parnell's family: from Staff Sergeant Greg Greeson, the wise, chain-smoking veteran who never lost his cool; to Specialist Robert Pinholt, a buttoned-down conservative with the heart of a warrior and the mind of an economist; to Staff Sergeant Phil Baldwin, the platoon's voice of calm and reason, a man who sacrificed everything following the events of 9/11—career, home, financial stability—to serve his country. But the cost of battle was high for these men: Over 80 percent were wounded in action, putting their casualty rate among the highest since Gettysburg, and not all of them made it home.
A searing and unforgettable story of friendship in battle, OUTLAW PLATOON brings to life the intensity and raw emotion of those sixteen months, showing how the fight reshaped the lives of Parnell and his men and how the love and faith they found in one another ultimately kept them alive.
I got the book in the mail on Thursday, and from the time I first opened it I couldn't bear to put it down. Over the weekend I rode a roller coast of emotions as I was drawn in on the adventure of a lifetime. With American Sniper, I felt that the author was telling me the story... but Outlaw Platoon was so well written that I actually felt like I was there alongside these brave men in the mountains of Afghanistan. I could see the terrain in my mind's eye, I felt like I got to know the characters personally, and the author became my friend. I think I bit all my nails off as I sat in utter suspense in several parts. I shouted in indignation at military politics that were completely unfair. I laughed when they verbally sparred and joked around, and I cried when they lost some of there own feeling like I had lost a buddy too!
Outlaw Platoon is a rough cut bunch. But they were the best at what they did, and they did it well. I fell in love with how their differences brought them together to work not only as a team, but as a close knit brotherhood. I learned a lot about the friendships and bonds forged though battle and war. And I was also reminded that not all soldiers out there are heroes... (I actually kept reading parts to Ben and threatening him if he ever acted that way I would kick his butt!) The Outlaw Platoon had a hard time with the soldiers who stayed on the base the whole time and didn't understand combat because they hadn't seen it, and I don't blame them! Ben's job in the Army is a support role, but his expertise could take him out into combat as well. And all I can say, is if that ever happens, I pray that he is with a platoon like this one that will "watch his six."
I can not begin to imagine what some of our men go through out there, but Outlaw Platoon opened a door for us to step through so we can understand a little what is really going on out there. Things we never hear about back home that the media and politicians feel is too horrible for our sensitive ears and eyes. I don't know about you, but I love truth and knowledge and knowing about what is happening in this war makes me feel closer to the brave and courageous men and women that are sacrificing so much for us and our freedoms.
I recommend this book for anyone, especially young officers who are getting ready to head out to their first commands, like my Ben will be doing in another year. I do warn you though, there is some bad language (any military book you read is going to drop the F bomb a bunch of times), and some graphic war scenes that will make your stomach turn -- but that's war and it isn't pretty.
Harper Collins Publishing is going to let me giveaway a copy of this book that will be released in the next week or two (You can't imagine how cool I felt reading a book that isn't out yet...), so if you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will put you in my drawing!