Kavan Peterson's Reviews > No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

No Easy Day by Mark Owen
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Sep 10, 2012

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Like any skeptic news consumer I assumed the "official" version of how OBL had his brains blown out by Navy Seals was highly distorted at best and totally inaccurate at worst. I didn't doubt that they killed him but I hoped the official story wasn't a complete fairy tale dramatization like the Jessica Lynch rescue or an outright lie like the Pat Tillman coverup. I couldn't give a rat's ass if the Seals gunned him down in cold blood or shot him in self defense, and I doubt anyone else in America would care either.

Which is why I found it laughable that the Pentagon pushed back against publication of this book because it apparently didn't toe the official "clean" version of how the world's most elite soldiers shot OBL right in the face. If for no other reason, I take that pushback as evidence that the author's word is probably the most accurate account of the event yet published. And I immediately bought a copy.

If you want a book about what it's like to be a Navy Seal, there are plenty of better ones out there. One of the most recent, American Sniper, offers plenty of shop talk, blood and guts and an amusing self-portrait of an extremely arrogant, narrow-minded, self-righteous, pinhead of a killing machine with zero self awareness and a second-grader's world view. Very amusing.

No Easy Day, on the other hand, is an autobiography without a subject. The author is virtually missing from the pages. In what is already a completely pointless exercise to protect his identity, he offers the fleetingest of personal details, self reflection and backstory. Equally disappointing, he provides the sparsest of details regarding training and missions with the most ridiculous insights into what's it like to be in combat. I'll paraphrase - "Learning that dumb luck could save my life in combat despite all my years of training was a real eye opener." Riveting it is not.

That being said, you can easily scan ahead to the meat of the story without missing anything important. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to describing the OBL assault second-by-second with fairly good exposition and some sense of what the author was experiencing. It's not Black Hawk Down, but it provides the best and just about only first-hand account of the raid.

His account seems totally accurate and believable. *Spoilers* After taking fire from the first person they encountered (the Kuwaiti dude), they pretty much gunned down every other male that popped his head out. That included shooting OBL in the face the second he peeked out of his bedroom doorway to see what all the hubbub was about. The author was immediately behind the Seal who shot OBL and they both rushed into the bedroom and shot OBL's writhing body until it went still. They didn't know who it was until they wiped off the blood and examined what was left of his face. The author found an unloaded AK and pistol above the door. One of OBL's wife's caught a bullet or ricochet when they first shot him from the hallway. That's pretty much it. Mission accomplished.
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Kavan Peterson The only cool gear detail the author revealed was Seals get super-awesome 120 degree view night vision goggles that cost $64K a pop. They have four lens instead of two, which look totally badass.

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