With all the SEALs' recent successes, we have been getting a level of attention and acclaim we are not used to. It's been very flattering and certainly well deserved. It's produced some stresses as well. But something important has been missing from the discussion. People keep describing what we do, but no one has even scratched the surface of how and why. The unique psychology behind it. What really makes it work. The extraordinary character of those involved. The carefully crafted motivation and training techniques. The many lessons for the future of America's relationship with the world.
-LT. Commander Rorke Denver
To say I was excited to get the email from Jon at Hyperion Books about doing this review, would be a complete understatement! I was off the wall THRILLED!
You may remember Rorke Denver from his star role in "Act of Valor". At the time the movie came out though, not much was know about the actors because they were real Navy SEALs. But now, Rorke Denver has come forward and written his account of life as a SEAL.
Here is the video his publicist sent me:
I waited for the mail eagerly, and finally it came! I devoured it. Yep. Like the book pig I am. I can't help it. If it's good, it's gone faster than a piece of cheesecake in a house full of boys -- and that's saying something!
Now, I am going to give a completely honest review. First off, I LOVED the book. It was very well-written, and totally engaging! Saying that, let me tell you what my first impression was: After reading the Introduction, I was disappointed and a bit turned off. Before I get slack for "dissing" a SEAL, let me explain. He came off a bit arrogant to me. Don't get me wrong, I love a guy with confidence and gumption, but some of the stuff he said rubbed me the wrong way. Ever since reading American Sniper, I have come to have a deep respect and love for the Navy SEALs, I think they are amazing, but what I don't think some of them understand is that even though they feel they are "The Best of the Best", they have to understand that there are incredibly amazing men out there that are just as amazing, they just don't want to be SEALs. I admit that the SEALs are definitely the "best of the best" who try out to be SEALs for sure! Are they the "best of the best" at what they do? Certainly! But there are awesome men AND women who could be probably be SEALs but have different callings in life. Then again, maybe I am just biased because of my love for the Army... and my love for most all brave men and women who serve in all capacities! (Note: the author NEVER in anyway puts down the other branches, just saying...)
That being said, it was the only part that bugged me. As soon as I started reading chapter one, I was hooked... and so was my husband! Fourteen years as a SEAL, Lieutenant Commander Denver describes his experiences as a new officer entering BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL), his journey through "Hell Week" and beyond. Rorke Denver continues to share some of the secrets of making it through BUD/S and succeeding as a SEAL. He writes about his missions and adventures, successes and even some failures. It is important to him to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others to grow and become better people. He talks about being a SEAL, the politics that surround the SEALs, and what's it like to make others into SEALs. His experiences truly are more amazing than anything you will see in a movie. And the wise advice he gives throughout the book... well, let just say that my copy is highlighted for future use! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the elite team, who wants to be one someday, and for anyone who just needs a good read! (Let's face it, there aren't many books coming out these days that are worth the time reading... this one is! Great military books are the only non-fiction I will read, seriously.) And I am not going to tell you anymore about it, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone! My hope is that everyone who reads it will go on the same journey I did!
As I finished the last chapter and closed the book, my LAST impression was: You know, maybe I was wrong (just a little), Rorke Denver is pretty darn cool. I think he had a right to be a little arrogant... I think it's part of his charm.
All around a really EXCELLENT book! I enjoyed it. My husband enjoyed it. And one day, I am sure, my boys will enjoy it, too. I am deeply thankful to men like Rorke Denver for their amazing service to our country and it's future, and for having the courage to step forward to share their experiences with the rest of us who can only dream of what such a life as their's entails.
Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior goes on sale later this month... you can pre-order yourself a copy now!
PS -- Speaking of SEALs, I just wanted to express my deepest sympathies to family and friends of my one of my heroes, Chris Kyle. You may remember that I reviewed his book, American Sniper last year. I was shocked and devastated by his death last weekend. I didn't know him in person, but anyone who has read his book feels like he is an old friend. May he rest in peace, and his family find comfort.