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Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

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On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America's warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

390 pages, Hardcover

First published June 12, 2006

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About the author

Patrick Robinson

65 books323 followers
Patrick Robinson was a journalist for many years before becoming a full-time writer of books. His non-fiction books were bestsellers around the world and he was the co-author of Sandy Woodward's Falklands War memoir, One Hundred Days.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,151 reviews
Profile Image for Taylor.
130 reviews21 followers
October 25, 2008
I REALLY wanted to like Lone Survivor. I mean, it's theoretically about a guy who survives an ambush by the Taliban when his teammates do not, goes on to receive shelter and protection from a brave Afghan village, and then writes about the bravery of his teammates who fought to their deaths.

But... the book is essentially Marcus Luttrell patting himself on the back. For more than 100 pages, he writes about training to become a Navy SEAL and how tough he is. I'm not saying that it is a small thing to get through that. I could never ever ever be that tough. But these anecdotes are only about him, not the mettle shown by the rest of his SEAL class. And anyway, the book is supposed to be about the bravery of his lost teammates.

About 100 pages are eventually dedicated to his interaction with the team. And he does laud their bravery and determination in the face of horrific injuries. However, it seemed like most of his recollections are of the teammates making bad decisions when Marcus knew better, or of Marcus doing heroic things. And I'm sure he did. I'm not making light of his service to his country, his willingness to risk his life for his country. But again, he himself says the book is supposed to be about the bravery of his teammates.

The rest of the book is about Marcus bravely evading capture - barely mentioning his friends, until he comes to the end where he talks about how he very graciously tours the country comforting the families of his lost teammates. Again, it's an admirable thing to do, but it seems like he's pointing out the fact that it was an admirable thing to do.

And while he bravely evaded his trackers for one night, he is also taken in by an incredibly brave Afghan village, who protect him from the Taliban forces in the face of terrifying threats. He acknowledges the risk this village has taken, but more than anything, he complains that they gave him a dirty water bottle and that the goat's milk tasted bad. And that there was a rooster crowing outside his room.

The book is interspersed with diatribes about "the liberal media" and the liberal lies they perpetrate. He says the liberal media seeks to make Americans hate US troops. This alone seems incredibly wrong to me. It is my perception that criticism of the military by the media is nearly always directed at: a) incredible atrocities, like Haditha or Abu Ghraib or b) poor military decisions by the higher ups. Instead, Marcus also says something to the effect of, The Geneva Convention is a bunch of liberal bullshit made up by liberal politicians who have never experienced war; it's also something the liberal media uses to incriminate US troops. He says, If you don't want to see the loss of innocent life, don't go to war. By association, he thinks the "liberal media" has no right to criticize, or even report, innocent loss of life in war due to US activities.

I can see where he's coming from, to a degree. The havoc that was wreaked on his teammates spawned primarily from a decision to extend mercy to a few unarmed goatherds who happened upon the SEAL's position. The goatherds reported that position to the Taliban, who sent hundreds of men to attack the group of 4 Navy SEALs. In hindsight, it's understandable that Marcus would regret that seemingly humane decision. However, this does not mean that unarmed civilians should generally be killed. The US is not supposed to be ruthless.

Again, I really do not wish to criticize the service Marcus dedicated to his country. In fact, his valor is real. Despite his injuries, he turned around and asked to complete his deployment. His family and his country should be proud of his service. However, it just doesn't sit well with me that he is billing this book as a tribute to his brave teammates, when they really seem to be minor supporting characters to Marcus' lead man, providing a sympathetic plotline to enhance the like-ability of the main character. I believe that his intentions were probably good, but his severe lack of humility prevents Lone Survivor from being the tribute his team deserves.

Note: other Goodreads users have notified me that Marcus is contributing the profits from the sale of this book to a trust benefitting troops and their families. While this does not alleviate my concerns that the book does not do justice to his teammates, I think he is honoring their legacy and their service by refusing to profit from the book.

Profile Image for Travis.
114 reviews21 followers
July 14, 2009
I really wanted to like this book. Half a dozen of my immediate family members are currently serving or have served in the military, and I have nothing but respect for our brave men and women in uniform. And Operation Redwing, the 2005 mission that led to the largest loss of life in SEAL history, is the famous incident at the heart of this book. How could an account of that operation and SEAL team 10 turn out to be anything less than absolutely gripping? Well, Marcus Luttrell and his co-author managed to find a way. Except for the last part of the book, the part that details the actual operation and its heartbreaking aftermath, Luttrell's "Lone Survivor" manages to turn what should have been a fascinating account of Navy SEAL training and operations into one of the most annoying, propagandistic and sleep-inducing chronicles of push-ups and special ops ever written.

The first 80 pages are an autobiographical rant, wherein Luttrell's sole apparent purpose is to convince us that a liberal press is to blame for all our nation's woes, that no soldiers ever to enter combat were/are better than SEALs, and that no Navy SEAL is better than Luttrell himself.

The second 80 pages recount in mind-numbing detail his every splash in the cold Pacific, his every roll in the sand, his every push-up and lung-bursting run across the beach, his every victory over other SEAL wannabes. And no one does it better than Luttrell, of course, who manages a stab at self-promotion even when he's ostensibly praising others. Most war memoirs draw you into the life of the storyteller, but you plod your way through the first two-thirds of this book thinking, "enough already—let’s hear about the mission!"
Perhaps some of the blame should go to Patrick Robinson, a mediocre war novelist who apparently did most of the actual writing. But whomever is to blame, if you want to know what happened to SEAL team 10 (and if you think you can actually trust this politically slanted account), then check the book out from your local library and skip straight to the last third. Don't waste your money buying it. Better yet, read Dick Winters' "Beyond Band of Brothers," a war memoir by an intelligent and self-effacing war hero. Or if an Iraq War special ops memoir is specifically what you're looking for, read SAS Andy McNab's "Bravo Two Zero," which does everything Luttrell's book wanted to do but does it far, far better.

While I have no doubt Luttrell is a tough and well-intentioned soldier, his writing skills and extremist opinions leave something to be desired.
Profile Image for Bob Mayer.
Author 153 books47.9k followers
December 29, 2010
First, when one is a Lone Survivor, there is only one tale to be told from one source.
Second, don't say that you told a mother her son died quickly and not in pain and then write in detail how agonizing and how long his death took.
Third: The first thing we did in planning for a Special Operations mission anywhere in the world was to discuss how we were going to handle being discovered by the locals. Because anywhere you go in the world, you WILL get discovered by the locals. Sad to say, these guys had no plan. When they were discovered, they had to sit there and discuss what to do. Should have been a standard part of mission preparation. The shame is all those brave men who jumped on that rescue helicopter died because the original team failed to do basic, rudimentary planning for their mission. The course of action they choose was, frankly, the worst of all possibilities. And they paid for it. Along with others.
One has to wonder what SEALs are doing in a landlocked country anyway. I have tremendous respect for SEALs. Of all Special Operations Forces, they are by far the most physically fit. I commanded a Special Forces A-Team that had a maritime operations focus, and operating in the water is very hard. I commend every man who has earned his badge.
I know my opinion isn't popular about this, but it seems we have a fascination with making a hero out of someone who failed in his mission and whose comrades all died.
I'm assuming Luttrell is donating all the money he is making, such as the three million dollar movie option, to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation so at least something positive could come out of what was essentially, a clusterfuck that cost many brave men their lives.
Profile Image for Kristin.
587 reviews87 followers
April 12, 2019
This was our book club pick for this month. All I can say is THANK YOU KARIANN!! This book should be required reading for every American. It was life changing. I loved it. I have since scoured the Internet trying to learn as much as I can about Operation Redwing and it's heroes.

This is not the kind of book I would normally pick up and read. In fact, I had it on the counter and when Tyler came home and he thanked me for picking him out a great book from the library. He couldn't believe we were reading it for book club. He even proudly been told the guys at work what book his wife was reading. They were impressed too. I thought this would be a "guys book" but it isn't. It is a book for every American...man or woman...conservative or liberal.

This book took hold of me and still hasn't let go. I was unable to put it down. It was heart-breaking, inspiring and unfailingly patriotic. I am so glad that I read this book and got a glimpse of the kind of people who have answered our country's call and who fight for freedom. God Bless the United States Armed Forces and the men and women who serve!!

I rate this book: EXCELLENT!! A must-read for every American.

May the heroic acts of the men of Operation Redwing never be forgotten.
Profile Image for Abby.
387 reviews63 followers
April 10, 2008
You would not think I would love this book so much, since basically it is 100% about guys in military training, shooting, dead guys, blood, outdoor survival, guns, etc... I mean seriously, there is ZERO kissing in this book. But surprisingly, I was amazingly addicted to this book. Marcus Luttrel (the author, who the story is about) is AMAZING. I actually decided I wanted to be a Navy SEAL after reading this book, plus I wanted to go hunt Taliban guys. That is the way I judge a book as good. If it makes me want to be part of the action, it's good.

You could tell he wasn't a professional writer as you read through the book, as the writing wasn't all smooth and flowy-esque. That made me almost like it more. It was obvious that he was telling the story himself, and not that some flowery author had taken a heroic story and changed it to best fit the stereotype of a best selling novel. Nope, it was written just like a military hero awesome guy would write it. Rather than being a great book because of how well it was written, it is an amazing book because of the story it tells. I hope someday to be as brave and cool in my whole body as Marcus Luttrell is in his little baby pinkie.

Oh my gosh Navy SEALS are so awesome and cool!!
Profile Image for Brian.
271 reviews64 followers
April 2, 2009
I have wanted to read this book since before I left for Afghanistan. Partly because of that as well as my own personal reasons in the military and in the Navy. Marcus Luttrell is a shipmate as were his brothers with him on Operation Redwing.
In late June 2005, I had just been stationed in Denver, CO for only a few months and I remember hearing about Petty Officer Luttrell and his SEAL team ambushed and calling for assistance during a dangerous capture/kill mission. All of the military and civilian supports waited non-stop, 24 hours a day, waiting for some word of the safety. Notably because one of Colorado's own, Petty Officer Danny Dietz, was on that team. When we also learned that a team of Special Forces had gone to rescue them but were also all killed when their helicopter was blown up by an RPG we were sickened by the great loss of so many of our elite forces. The Denver Post kept us updated and ran news stories about their PO Dietz and his team. After it was all over and it was discovered that PO Luttrell was the only survivor the Post also ran a week long story detailing as much of the events as they could piece together. It was an amazing story I followed. How four SEALS were able to fend off and kill half a Taliban force estimated as over 100 strong, was the stuff of legend! I could only imagine any of this when I was a kid and thinking that the SEALs were the baddest bad-asses of them all. (I still think that way)

Two years later I attended a memorial service on July 4th, 2007 held in Littleton, CO for Danny Dietz. I was in dress uniform (ironically I was suppose to be in Afghanistan then, but hernia surgery kept me from going). Anyone who has a chance to visit his memorial at Berry Park in Littleton, should do so. The statue of him kneeling with his rifle--close to what he probably looked like the day he died--is a testiment of courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. It is the statue of a hero and will move the strongest person to tears.

This book is that story. But it is also the story of being a SEAL and everything that entails. It almost reminds me of the movie "Full Metal Jacket." The first part, the author details his dream and training into becoming a SEAL. When I say he details it, he really does. Better than anything I have ever read or watched about the subject thus far. His personal struggles and those of his teammates--those who quit and those who succeeded. Really amazing and worth rereading that portion alone. But then you swing back into the real meat of the story and that is the mission in the Hindu-Kush mountains in Afghanistan pursuing the Taliban leaders and the Al-Qaida.

The ferocity of the battle is straight out of "Black Hawk Down" (my favorite book on modern warfare) and during those chapters you will not be able to put the book down. There is no fictional author anywhere I have read that has brought that kind of personal feeling of combat to their narratives. Fictional writers can only imagine it and mostly they do not do it justice as Petty Officer Luttrell did.

But the book is also a survival story as the author is the only one to survive the battle and keep himself alive. I do not want to go into detail of how this was possible because it is something each reader should personally and intimately involve themselves with. One other thing that I was glad Petty Officer Luttrell did, was he attempted to tell the harrowing battle that his own family back in Texas was going through while waiting for news on his fate. Even though we, the readers, know the outcome (because he is writing the book, right?) it was still heart-wrenching for his parents, his twin-brother (also a SEAL), and the hundreds of family, friends, SEAL teammates, and military members that arrived at their home to be there for a non-stop vigil.

Everyday while I was in Afghanistan, I ate at the chow-hall and saw the pictures of those that died that day in June, 2005: LT Michael P. Murphy (who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor), Petty Officer Danny Dietz and Petty Officer Matthew Axelson. I would wait in line for my food and look at the wall to my right with their pictures. Everyday I saw them and though I never knew them, their heroism in-duty inspired every service member that walked past them. I am glad this story could be written by the lone survivor of that battle. I would also hope that everyone--whether for or against the war--can read this and understand what it is our military must face. They fight battles for us and do those things only the smallest fraction of the population could or would do. It is dirty and it is unspeakable sometimes. But it is what HAS to be done to win. If we ask them to go forward and do this job, then we should be able to give them every advantage to complete that job and not handcuff them in the media. They should not have to fight a personal battle inside of their conscience for doing a job that could save their lives. In other words their lives should not be at risk everytime they do a mission like this because they fear Geneva Convention rules or a court martial or being thrown in prison when they came home, just because they did what they needed to do in order to save the life of their team and perform their mission.

Bottom line: if we continue to go to war, then the American public and the politicians need to give the military the means to win. The terrorists will not play by those rules. We shoudl not target civilians but we need to understand and accept they there will be civilian deaths. If we cannot then we shouldn't ever go to war. War is not clean. It is not surgical. It's bloody and terrible. It's suppose to be. Innocents will die. But that is the cost if war is unavoidable. We just need to know it will happen and hope we can end the war quicker. The more the U.S. continues to fight these "clean" wars with all these rules, then the longer they will always take. And the less likely we will come away victorious.

Profile Image for Kelly.
70 reviews32 followers
April 9, 2009
I already reviewed this on Amazon...but here's my take on it, anyway:

Do not listen to 1-star reviews of this book by those taking on elitist attitudes towards the lack of flowery adjectives and fluff. It's more likely the writer's politics that bother them, so they assume the stance of literature snobs.

#1 - It's written the way it is because it's the recounting of a tale, a war story. Imagine sitting down with a beer, a crackling fireplace and a friend who has a very fascinating story to tell. He starts recounting his tale, backtracking as he needs to fill in the holes, and before you know it, hours and hours have gone by and you are spellbound. Luttrell wrote things the way he would think and say them, sometimes it's even humorous, but more often than not, it is harrowing. Luttrell did NOT write things the way a stoned poet would. We do not think in similes and metaphors and neither does he. Luttrell let his wit and personality shine through. By the end of this book, you will feel as if you personally know him.

#2 - "He's too political and anti-liberal"....In the first part of the book, Luttrell rants a little against the liberal media. At this point, some people closed the book and missed out on one hell of a great story. When you read further and "open your mind" (isn't that a favorite phrase of liberals?), it becomes very clear how Luttrell formed his opinions and solidified them on the battlefield. I can't understand how someone can read the book all the way through and then not see WHY he feels the way he does. Did they not read the heart-wrenching scenes where he watched his friends die? Did they not read about the numerous hells he faced? If any of us were in his situation and suffered the after-effects, we would also be centered on that ONE decision that could have changed everything. Luttrell is entitled to his opinions and he's more than earned the right to speak them. Too often we hear the opinions of those who have never been the very places they have such heated opinions about. Yet, when someone who has speaks honestly...he should be silenced? Honestly, who is more qualified to give their opinion? Marcus Luttrell? Or some group of rich idiots with guitars that somehow think this gives them political omniscience?

#3 - "Too self-aggrandizing, too much testosterone"...Okay guys, it's bad when this reviewer is a mother and seems to have no problem with "testosterone" in this book. Would it be better if Luttrell had added some scenes where he and the Taliban throw down their weapons and perform a ballet number in an opium field? I don't think some of these reviewers have personally known military or they are military (so say a few reviewers) and are just jealous because Luttrell's experiences are not typical. Most military personnel are not put in the position to be called heroes by their brethren. One thing most service members share is pride. Why? Because pride is what gives you a purpose for living when things get tough. Pride of service and loyalty is not arrogance. It's a survival tactic that forms the bonds of military brotherhood. If some had no pride in their liberal views, some wouldn't be writing bad reviews on an otherwise great book. Everyone possesses it and the man who says he doesn't is lying. Do you think Marcus Luttrell wakes up every day, looks in the mirror, and tells himself how awesome he is? I highly doubt it. Anyone who knows someone who has had to endure a fraction of what these men have to endure can tell you that. I've watched the despair of someone close to me because his friend died in Iraq and he's still living. Texas, the United States, his SEAL training...Luttrell is proud of them. Does that make him arrogant? No. His pride helps keep him sane after all that's happened...and that battle goes on long after the battlefield is left behind.

This book is not a dry, journalistic military recounting of events. It's full of heart and vigor. It's a military memoir whose heart lives on after the last page. The writing is raw and the overwhelming popularity of this book is because the events that transpire are told so realistically you will feel like they are happening to you. At times it's painful to read, at times you will laugh out loud, at times you will get angry, and you will cry no matter how tough you think you are, but when it's all said and done, you will feel like you just lived through these events alongside Luttrell. One of the last great American novels for true patriots.
Profile Image for Alex.
45 reviews17 followers
September 4, 2019
Books like this scare me. Besides its blatant agenda, (liberal media this, how the liberals hate the troop etc) it's also terribly written. As a veteran military officer, It frightens me that our young service member read this crap as opposed to novels which really bring to life the true horrors of war. War is a necessary evil at times, but the decision to go to war should never be glamorized or taken lightly. This mindless drab offers nothing in the way of an empirical study of war. Early in 1963, right around the time U.S Army HELO pilots were first being used surreptitiously in combat, Admiral Harry Felt lambasted an Associated Press reporter when asked a tough question about the South Vietnamese (3 Americans were killed) failure at the Battle of Ap Bac in 1963; he exclaimed to the reporter, "Get on the team!" It's quite apparent we haven't learned everything we could from that dreadful experience.
Profile Image for Kelly.
462 reviews125 followers
January 31, 2011
UNBELIEVABLE! I always thought those movies where the heroes get shot five times and fall off a cliff, but just keep getting up shooting were so unrealistic...apparently NOT! The second half of this book was impossible to put down - I was so caught up in the description of Operation Redwing. It was truly amazing and I will never think about our military in the same way again, even though I've always had a high opinion of the men and women fighting for our country. There was some slower reading in the first half, although it was still totally fascinating. I think everyone should read this book. I want my kids to read it...the faith and integrity of the men in this book is something our country needs more of.
Profile Image for Jerry Smith.
734 reviews13 followers
February 16, 2020
I read some great reviews of this book and I, like others who have reviewed this book in a less than glowing light, should add that I have nothing but admiration and respect for every soldier who puts his life on the line for Country, comrades and frankly for me. This story is inspirational and the survival of Luttrell is testament to his toughness.

So this review is not personal, is not meant to decry anything that he or his fellow SEALs stand for or did in this theatre of operation or generally.

This is a dreadful book. Poorly written, repetitive and the writing unimaginative. It is not without interest and this story needs to be told but not like this. It strikes me as a political tome - Luttrell seems to want to blame some vague force he calls the "liberal media" for what, as far as I can tell, he thinks is wrong with pretty much anything.

It can be argued that, as a soldier, we should expect him to be arrogant, brash, full of confidence etc. but since he puts his name to this book, we have to judge it as a literary work and it is very poor. The narrative repeats itself constantly (descriptions of his fellow SEALs are shallow and ingratiating) and ultimately the battle scenes really do stretch credibility when I think that they would have been far more compelling toned down. It seems hard to believe that 100s of Taliban were involved and that his fellow soldiers could be shot in the head, shot in the neck, shot through the stomach and still carry on fighting as before.

I should say that I don't know that for a fact - maybe it's possible, but the problem is that Luttrell has been so opinionated and forthright in his obvious deep contempt and loathing for "liberals" that it diminishes his message.

I gave up about 75% of the way through which is a shame, but I couldn't take any more political spouting from this man, who writes (or his ghost writer does) in a pedestrian, arrogant and un-entertaining way.

Sorry - I wanted to like this book as much as I really liked and was moved by Krakauer's account of Pat Tillman. Luttrell is a great soldier and an awful author and the latter in no way detracts from the former.
1 review
October 11, 2013
This book makes me want to punch myself in the face. As a former Army medic and the spouse of an Army Ranger who was actually on the mission that saved this "Great American" who is the lone survivor because he was looking out for himself not his comrades. I barely made it past the introduction of him boasting about how Navy Seals are all but Godly beings. I have nothing against Navy Seals or any other service member who puts their lives on the line. They are my brothers and sisters. It simply sickens me that this coward has made so much money off of Americans who don't know the real story...
Profile Image for Brian.
93 reviews2 followers
November 8, 2010
This is not the type of book I usually read. But it was a gift, and I am happy I read it.

Like many stories of military operations gone awry, it was a difficult read at times. And I think Luttrell is at his best when discussing the training he underwent and his experience in Afghanistan. The people he meets in the small village are amazing; I loved that part.

What I didn't like so much were Luttrell's fairly frequent digressions. These digressions were mainly about two things, the Rules of Engagement and what he calls "the liberal media." He would frequently throw these into his otherwise well constructed narrative. And unfortunately they always came across as rants with very little convincing evidence (or evidence of any kind) related to his argument. I wish he would have written one clearly argued essay as an epilogue to his story. That would have allowed his story to stand on its own and also allowed him to draw from that story in his final argument.

The other thing I did not like so much about the book was the lack of personal growth I saw in Luttrell. He went through numerous crazy training exercises and then had a horrendous experience in the mountains of Afghanistan, but he never reflects on the decisions that led up to those moments. And there are many places where he could have reflected on this.

Unfortunately, I believe Luttrell falls prey to a symptom that many military personnel experience, gameness. He even referenced this in the final chapter of the book, though again, he did not reflect on it. This gameness, or willingness and extreme desire to please higher-ups, is often a detrimental and debilitating personality trait. I wish Luttrell and others would be able to see this after their difficult experiences. If others can learn from these experiences, then many lives can be saved.
Profile Image for Janet.
148 reviews
December 31, 2007
This is one of those powerful life-changing books that will speak to generations of Americans forever. I’ve tried to write this review so many times since I first read Lone Survivor back in September and again after reading it for the second time in November….. I simply cannot find the words (unusual for me). I had friends lining up to borrow this book but until now, could not put it down, could not let it go. At last I felt ready to walk away from the friendships forged and battles fought within the pages, walk away never to forget. Our family’s Holy Rosary, and my own daily prayers, are offered for those who serve, for their families, specifically for fellow Texan, Marcus Luttrell, the author of this book, and for all Navy SEALs. My desire to know more about these extraordinary patriots catapulted my literary/personal journey into our Nation’s military experience as recorded by those who have chosen to serve. Read it and know. Knowledge is power. Yet there is no greater power than love.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

May God bless and protect our Nation’s Warriors.
Profile Image for Boymc.
6 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2010
Jingoistic, patronising, arrogant, self-serving, delusional. That'd sum this book up. Be best for foreign relations if this book had never left US shores... His attitude towards the Afghanis is abhorrent. Quite shocking. I don't know if he thinks it makes him "cool" or "hard". But he manages to come off as an utter tool.

I read military books like they're going out of fashion, and usually am able to relate. This man is a pig. He is utterly incapable of dealing with humans. I sincerely hope he grows up, and learns something from his experiences. If not, then the American military has a lot to answer for continuing to arming these blundering idiots. Isn't he supposed to be the"crème de la crème"? He certainly adds "special" to "Special Forces".

His moaning and whining about the various "problems" as he sees them becomes extremely irksome. Interspaced with his in-depth descriptions of his muscle size and density. His answers to these perceived problems are probably best not mentioned. Their child like simplicity is stunning. And yet, he seems quite serious in putting them forward?

Lone survivor? "Moaning Twit" might be a better title.
Profile Image for Chris.
26 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2007
An interesting book dealing with the training of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, his deployment in Afghanistan, his ordeal as the lone survivor of a combat mission, and how he is taken in by an Afghani village that stands up to the Taliban. The fight scene is riveting and agonizing, and the scenes where his Texas community rallies around his family pulls at your heart. The book is marred by numerous sprinklings of gratuitous references to the liberal media and how the liberals hate the army and are hurting the war effort (and thereby America) that don't add anything to what is a captivating account. I wonder if they were put in there to help sell the book among conservatives. His proclamations that the war in Afghanistan could be easily won if we just unleashed more American power is belied by the the actual story he tells of how the Taliban could not survive if they did not have the help of the Pashtun natives of the region. Apparently he thinks that the more terrorist you kill the closer you are to ending the war, ignoring his own observation of the people in the village who aided him, some of whom were hostile to him. He seems totally indifferent to what could cause some villagers to assist an American and others to fight them, and that possibly therein lies an answer to help ending the war. Body counts were real successful in Vietnam. He dismisses Abu Graib with a single sentence. I'm glad he's a soldier, but I'm glad he's not a commander. He's the type who might win every battle but lose the war. It's obvious he hasn't read (or if he has read, doesn't believe in)any of the theories about counterinsurgency. He also talks about being loyal to the Commander in Chief, but he never mentions defending the Constitution. If you don't let the intermittent propoganda outbursts interfere with your reading, you can learn a lot from this book.
31 reviews
December 12, 2008
It's hard to say how I feel about this book. If I say that the author sounded like a puffed up meathead, then I sound un-patriotic. He was a brave man who went through amazing training for the Navy SEALs and then went to covert ops in Afghanistan.
One part of the book truly bothered me, no, agitated me. He, at the turning point of his (true) story, said that they had only two choices: to kill the people who were going to report them to the Taliban, or let them go, but there was another choice. They prided themselves so much on the fact that they could function on very little sleep, but they made a fatal choice here and it needlessly killed his friends because they couldn't think creatively due to lack of sleep and stress.
He colored his friends with broad, patriotic brushstrokes, but didn't give nearly the credit due to the people who actually saved his life, the Afghani villagers. They protected him even to the point of risking their own lives because their culture and religion dictates it. They didn't have to do anything for him, but they followed their principals for a hostile foreigner. I seriously doubt that this Texan author would do the same for a legal Mexican. (unfair statement, I know)
I don't write coherently about it, so I apologize, but I found it to be such a problem with the people who are fighting in our name overseas.
Profile Image for Katie.
231 reviews38 followers
January 21, 2012
The words to describe my feelings towards this book are very hard to express. Though, other than my grandfathers who both served in WWII, I have no immediate family members who are in the military, but I was raised to love my country and respect and honor those who protect it. I've always held these values very close to my heart. With that part said my pride and respect for Marcus Luttrell and his fellow SEALs can never be expressed with mere words.

Lone Survivor is not my normal reading genre. In fact other than the common reading of things like The Diary of Anne Frank as a kid and maybe Confessions by Madonna, I've had had little to no interest in any kind of biography or Non-fiction books, ever. My friend gave me Lone Survivor, and because she had suffered through reading the fluffy romance books I've given her in the past I gave it a shot. It smacked me in the face, hard.

Like a lot, and I hesitate to say most Americans, I live in my own little world. I expect things like being able to go to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk, being able to purchase for $7.99 a paperback book which contains things like sex, religion, and fuzzy bunnies. And I expect to be able to form my own opinions on those things. I can say anything I want about the President of the United States, Oprah Winfrey and the US Military, as this is my right as an American. I don't fight for these rights, they are mine by birth and nationality. I go to work, I pay taxes, I deserve these things. But with all my naivety, way deep down in there somewhere, I know there is or was a soldier somewhere on a line, with a gun and fear in his heart who gave his life so I could live in my blissful ignorance. All this book did was smack me upside the head and say "remember! you are an American. There are brave men and women who defend your sacred rights that you take advantage of every day!".

Marcus Luttrell and the other members of SEAL team 10 are not like other Americans. They aren't even like other military men. They are a special force of individuals who train through torturous conditions, put their lives on the line every day just so I can do something as simple as drive to work in a gas guzzling SUV and complain that my taxes are too high. We live in a society where most of us feel we DESERVE, and have the RIGHT to certain things. We are removed from the simple fact that we EARNED our American way by individuals like Marcus Luttrell and his fellow SEALS who risked an gave their lives for our way of life.

The events that were described in Lone Survivor were those which occurred to Marcus Luttrell from his teenage years through the horrific Redwing mission. He describes in detail the loss of his friends who were blown apart right in front of him, the help that he received in the most unlikely of places by a village located in the heart of his enemy's lair and the aftermath of this horrific event. It is a story of ultimate heroism and survival. What kind of person could survive not only physically but emotionally through the hell in which Marcus came through? Only a US Navy SEAL. These men are built tough, trained to be tougher and actually volunteer to go through an exercise labeled "Hell Week". They are warriors in the ultimate sense of the word, and we should be proud they are there to kick someone's ass when we need them to.

It takes men like this to defend us. They have to be tough, sometimes they have to be ruthless, they have to be extraordinarily intelligent, but above all they have to be self confident. Marcus Luttrell conveyed all of these attributes in his book. What it takes to be a SEAL and the lengths our military warriors are willing to go to to keep us all safe.

Marcus's book is out there for information. A way for him to inform his fellow Americans that there are still heros on the front lines protecting us and our way of life. Sometimes this takes a strong hand. And we can't always drift through life in a la la land filled with fluffy clouds, rainbows and worrying about the greenhouse effect. Sometimes it takes blood, sweat and tears to maintain our freedom. And just because it isn't your own blood, or the blood of your loved one that is spilling, doesn't mean it isn't happening and we don't have to fight hard for it. I thank him for telling his and his fellow soldiers story of ultimate sacrifice and heroism. I am grateful to them all for the little world I live in that they fight for me to maintain.
Profile Image for Katie.
511 reviews204 followers
January 4, 2018
Marcus Luttrell and I share a last name, but that’s where our similarities end. We must be related somehow, which was honestly the primary reason I wanted to read this. I wondered who he was, how he thought, and how his experiences have shaped his life. Now I know. And that is as much as I will ever want to know about him.

By all accounts, this should be an amazing story, and if you can look past all the childish, annoying, fanatic rants against “Liberal America,” there are parts of it that are truly incredible and heartbreaking. However, Luttrell goes on these rants SO OFTEN that it colors the narrative. The one that stands out the most to me is when they’re about to begin the firefight that will ultimately result in the death of his teammates, and he says “How did the liberals feel about my position?” Is this guy for real? You’re at death’s door, and you’re really thinking about the liberals? You’re writing a retrospective on this terrible experience where all your friends died, and THIS is how you choose to memorialize them?

As a testament to the men who lived and died alongside him, this book is not only shameful, it’s an abject failure. 150 of 390 pages are spent detailing how many push-ups he did during training. Roughly 100 pages are dedicated to Operation Redwing, the death of his friends, and how the liberals were responsible. And I’m not kidding; he actually says that:
“Look at me, right now in my story. Helpless, tortured, shot, blown up, my best buddies all dead, and all because we were afraid of the liberals back home […]”

Marcus Luttrell suffered through things many of us can’t imagine in our worst nightmares. There is one, teeny, tiny moment when we can see that he feels responsible for the deaths of his friends (this is when he decides to let some local goatherds go free instead of killing them). He believes that the goatherds communicated their position to the Taliban, resulting in the tragedy that followed.

Survivor’s Guilt is a symptom of PTSD, and while I’m not a medical professional, there are several statements in this book that lead me to believe Luttrell cannot grapple with what happened (understandably). What’s next, I believe, is deliberately misplaced blame. He cannot accept that his team was ill-prepared for this mission, he blames himself, but because he can’t bear the weight of that responsibility, he’s built a narrative around the liberals being at fault. I have a lot of feelings about this: It’s sad, fictitious, and at best, unprofessional. If you’re looking for a book that does justice to the brave actions of SEAL Team 10, I’m afraid this isn’t it.
Profile Image for Jenica.
106 reviews22 followers
January 2, 2015
This book had been rotting on my bookshelf for several years now, having been given to me by an elderly man at my church. I finally got around to it and I have to say, this one.... just bummed me out. Not because of the heartbreaking story of fallen soldiers, but because of the brutish, ignorant, and overly-prideful author.

Now, I get that it's a nearly impossible feat to become a Navy SEAL. I get it, I do. The exhaustive descriptions over every dip in the pacific and roll in the sand made sure of that. But if the book you have written is full of lines like: "SEALs don't look for personal credit, and thus I cannot say who the class voted their Honor Man."

...and constant other examples of back-patting and descriptions of action-movie-like stunts while his companions were bleeding and dying... I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect you.

Even more troubling was his attitude towards Afghani civilians, moral codes, and especially this little bit: "Was there ever a greater uproar than the one that broke out over Abu Ghraib? In the bigger scheme of things (...) a bunch of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated does not ring my personal alarm bell."

Honestly, I ended up skimming through most of it after reading that gem.

I can understand being angry after seeing what he did. I would be shocked if he wasn't.
The moral decision he and his team had to make of whether or not to execute unarmed civilians that had such a tragic outcome is truly sobering and heartbreaking, and a true example of the evils of war. But I cannot condone the way he expresses his guilt. The complete lack of a compassionate Christianity from someone who constantly talks about how God saved him in this situation was the most troubling aspect of all for me.

(Drinking game: [not recommended!] take a shot every time
-the author says he can't take credit for the amazing feat he just described in painstaking detail
-the "liberal media*" is mentioned. Drink the entire bottle if he blames it for his fellow soldier's deaths.)
*I don't like the majority of the media either, but HONESTLY.
Profile Image for Cliff.
Author 8 books12 followers
July 26, 2012
This book is a travesty. Four men went into the Hindu Kush and were ambushed, isn't that enough drama and excitement? Three of them died. One of them earned the Medal of Honor. Why did the author of this book ( the ghost writer) feel he had to spicen it up with fiction. In the real ambush of the SEALs on Operation Red Wing (the author calls it Redwing)there were 8-10 Taliban, yet in this account there are over two hundred. In my experience (22+ years active duty Marine infantry) men don't get shot in the head and just keep on fighting, yet at least on of the SEALs does. Why did the author feel necessary to embellish? I had to put it down after 85% of the way through. i just couldn't take it anymore.
Profile Image for Michael.
6 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2008
I had heard that Marcus Luttrell was the Lone Survivor of his SEAL team, but I had no idea of how miraculous his survival was. I also didn't realize how much the team's fear of a vicious liberal media made in this tragedy. I wish that our fighting men and women didn't have to fear our own people. We are at war and need to be able to operate freely and be trusted to make the right decisions. Granted, there need to be rules and limitations, but because these men feared what would happen to them when they got home, they released prisoners that gave away their position and got them killed. What a tragedy. I hope this amazing man's story will help change in at least some way the way we treat our wonderful brothers and sisters who sacrifice so much for us.
Profile Image for Melodie.
589 reviews64 followers
February 10, 2016
A five man SEAL team undertook a mission in Afghanistan. Five days later, the lone survivor,Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell emerged battered,bruised and broken after being sheltered by village locals. This is his story.
I was drawn in immediately as the author gave his personal background and that of his teammates. SEAL training in all it's gritty detail is also given plenty of ink. Beyond the extreme physical requirements is the mental and emotional stamina that is required.
The details of the mission and the deaths of his teammates was gut wrenching, so hard for me to read. And while he was taken in by a local village, his travails were far from over. Again, being the only survivor, this is his story, his perspective.
I have read many reviews of this young soldier's story. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. His detractors are as numerous as his supporters. And there some things about his story that I take issue with. But this is his story, his memories of a horrific experience.He is the one who to this day lives with the screams of his team mate echoing in his brain. It is his reality to relive that experience over and over and over, to forever question his actions.
I am so glad I read this book. Enough said.
Profile Image for Shauna.
106 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2008
I do not have the words to adequatley describe how much this book moved me. I am not usually a person to pick up this sort of book, but is was recommended to me by multiple people so I decided to give it a go, and am so glad that I did. You hear stories about people like this on the news, but nothing they say can really do the man or situation he was put in justice. I laughted and cried and threw the book down a few times in frustration for the situation that this country puts American soldiers in. I am very pro-military but I cannot imagine fighting for a government that allows it's soldiers to fight only after they have been shot at first. These men put their lives on the line every day for a country that repays them by questioning what they have to do in order to fulfill their orders and return saftley to their country and famlies. Soldiers should not have to ask permission to protect themselves, and this very situation cost many of them their lives. This is a fantastic book and should become reccomended reading for all people who call themselves patriots of the USA.
Profile Image for Joe Ferraro.
3 reviews2 followers
May 31, 2016
A lot of people say and agree that this book was horrible. They think that Luttrell may have been through a lot in is brave, however his writing skills are not the best. I agree, but I knew this before I started reading. I read this book to understand what Marcus went through and the experience of being a seal. He did an amazing job at that and that is what he should have done. He built up the plot in multiple ways by describing the scenarios he was in very well as well as describing how he felt. Males would typically like this book more, however plenty of females that like sad, touching stories would like this too.
Profile Image for Kat Bell.
4 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2014
I read this book so you don't have to. When I was in the military, I met many heroes/survivors/warriors. You know the one thing they never told me? How awesome they are. This book is rife with self-aggrandizement and propaganda. I would have preferred if the book just told me the story of Operation Redwing. If you are going to read this book, don't begin any sooner than page 160.
Profile Image for Rex Fuller.
Author 4 books170 followers
February 21, 2014
Didn't expect to think so highly of this. It is another SEAL memoir of BUD/S and war. And the edition I saw has a few technical errors (e.g., saying Bahrain is west of Saudi Arabia and the C-130 has Boeing engines). But this is the best SEAL memoir of the current war I have read. Once the team is inserted, the co-authors deliver a raw, detailed, picture of the men's courage in a nasty, no-win fight. Two things that will stay with me are, what Luttrell still hears every day from the battle and what went on at his home while he was missing. If unapologetic American military pride and patriotism make you uneasy, don't bother reading it. If you do like it, this can be a favorite.
21 reviews
January 31, 2008
This is one of the most riveting books I've ever read. It was written by a Navy SEAL who was the lone survivor (hence the title) in an Afghanistan raid. Ultimately, it is a tribute to the Navy SEALS who lost their lives in this bitter battle. I loved this book because Marcus shows us how he was destined to be a Navy Seal from his boyhood. He, along with his twin brother, survived the brutal training the Navy puts these guys through to weed out the weak. He and his team are put in the difficult terrain of the Afghanistan hills on a mission. They all had a bad feeling about it, which was not typical. They were Navy SEALS and they could accomplish anything, right? Marcus describes in detail what is was like to watch his "brothers" valiantly and bravely fight to the end. Although you know as you read it that Marcus, the author, survives, you just can't believe he's going to. The drama unfolding at his home in Texas provides a deeply spiritual aspect to the story as he tells of his family, friends, fellow SEALS, and strangers, who gather at his parents' ranch for days after being told he was missing in action. There is a round the clock prayer vigil that is so moving and left me having an even greater knowledge that prayers offered up to heaven are indeed heard. This has to be one of the all-time great survival stories.
Profile Image for CanadianEditor.
28 reviews5 followers
August 22, 2012
It could have been one of the most gripping military memoirs ever written but it's flawed by an endless stream of gratuitous political comments. This reaches the height, almost of absurdity, in the pivotal scene when the four man SEAL team is surprised by a trio of unarmed Afghan goat herders. With a Taliban army nearby, they know that they are in grave danger and their options are limited. As Luttrell describes it, they can either make what he calls the correct military decision and kill the herders which would buy them some time or they can let them go and have perhaps 120 or more Taliban attacking them immediately. Of course, killing prisoners, non-combatants at that, one of whom is a boy of about 14, would be not only against the rules of engagement but a criminal act. And so they made the "wrong decision" and let the herders go scampering off to alert the Taliban. And here Luttrell goes totally off the rails to lay the blame squarely on the "liberal media" which supposedly forced them to make the wrong choice because they had to consider what would happen when the media got hold of the story of civilians being murdered in cold blood. Luttrell never makes it clear what he means by "liberal media" but one gets the impression that it refers to anyone failing to be complicit in covering up war crimes committed by the U.S. military.

Or perhaps it's just, as Luttrell would say, I've been "brainwashed by the liberal media".

A few other things are puzzling about that scene. Luttrell claims that they couldn't have tied up the herders because they didn't bring any rope. Excuse me? He's just spent half the book bragging about how well trained and equipped the SEALS are and here they are in the high mountains of Afghanistan without a few feet of paracord or some zip tie handcuffs?

Then they let the herders leave first and wait a while before packing up and leaving. This seems odd to me. Wouldn't it make more sense to make the herders stay put, threaten them that they would be shot if they moved, and head out first to gain some precious time?

And one final oddity. They are unable to reach the US forces on their radio but it's only near the end of the terrible battle, after three of the team have been shot that they take out a cellphone and make a successful call to their base. Why didn't they use it earlier?

Some things don't add up and the strident political tone gets tedious but it's still a terrific story about some remarkable men.

Later update: I just read this critique of the book http://www.darack.com/sawtalosar/misi... and downgraded my review to one star. Like the saying goes, the first casualty in any war is the truth.
Profile Image for Ann.
254 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2016
This is such a difficult book to review. I have read so many comments on negative reviews blasting reviewers for criticizing the book, suggesting the reviewer is anti-American or doesn't support our troops. I have read reviews that say, "Luttrell's story of survival is amazing, and for that alone, this book should get 5 stars." I disagree. Yes, his story is incredible, amazing, and should be heard. At the same time, the writing is not great, the tone is pure arrogance, and the rants about the liberal media and politics just detract from the story. Goodreads reviews are meant to review the BOOK, not the story. I haven't seen the movie yet, but while reading it, I kept thinking, "I bet this is an incredible movie". Perhaps the movie is a better format for getting his story out.

The first half of the book was all about SEAL training. That was fascinating, but it dragged on too long, and I got annoyed by Luttrell's constant commentary about how great, strong, and unequaled the SEALS are. I get it. I have tremendous respect for the SEALS and all our special forces. I don't need to be hit over the head with it every other sentence. Simply describing the SEAL training is enough for me to get it. I understand that to become a SEAL you have to be extremely self-confident and probably a little arrogant just to make it through training, but Luttrell continually bragging about his accomplishments was unnecessary. There were many times I nearly put the book down and quit reading it, but I wanted to get to the actual mission. The second half of the book was much better - a gripping page-turner. The writing seemed better in the second half too, like perhaps it was written first with better editing, and the training part was written later to make the book longer.

I have the utmost respect for all of our troops who have served in the US military, and Lutrell is certainly a hero who should make us all proud. That said, just because someone has a good story to tell doesn't mean he is a writer. Some reviews have called this "a book every American should read" or "a life changing book." I just can't agree. I think had the story been told better, I might feel the same way. There was just too much arrogance, bravado, politics, and poor writing getting in the way of the story telling.

There are so many better books out there about the war in Afghanistan if you are wanting to read a book on the subject. War by Sebastian Junger is fantastic, and so is The Only Thing Worth Dying For by Eric Blehm. Lone Survivor is getting too many stars and positive reviews for the story within the book and not the book itself.
Profile Image for Muris.
35 reviews
February 11, 2012
What a silly piece of narration!? The authors thoughts confirm all stereotypes and biases about Americans. It seems that the purpose of the book is only to rectify all American atrocities done throughout Middle East during the so called "war on terror". We (American superheros) against them (wild barbarian beasts who are raised to hate our American way of life and who don't understand that we are killing them for their better future). The book is to be recommended only for the purpose of understanding of the American unconsciousness.

Aside of the book purpose- it is a fairy tale filled almost exclusively with lies that can be swallowed only by small children: brave American heroes who stubbornly fight and kill all that is moving (the very way the brave cowboys were killing the Indians in movies), while at the same time blood was pumping out of their chests and stomachs or their heads being half-blown away; a Taliban fighter who was screaming after he was shot dead between his eyes - for an alleged unit medic quite ignorant assertions; and so on.

And on the end, just an example of the exaggerations in the book: 150-200 Taliban warriors in the battle, as reported in the book, turned out to be maybe only 20. Of which SEAL team has killed at least 80 :) so far so honest

From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operatio...

"There exists some conflict over the exact numbers of Taliban forces involved in the engagement, among other mistakes by some sources. In Luttrell's own official after-action report filed with his superiors after his rescue, he estimated the size of the Taliban force to be around 20–35. Initial intel estimates estimated approximately 10 to 20[3]. Official media reports from the military estimated the size of the Taliban force to be around 20 as well, while in the Medal of Honor citation for LT Michael P. Murphy, the Navy cited 30–40 enemies.[43] In the Summary of Action related to the same MOH, the Navy cites an "enemy force of more than 50 anti-coalition militia".[44] In his book, Victory Point: Operations Red Wings and Whalers – the Marine Corps' Battle for Freedom in Afghanistan, military journalist Ed Darack cites a military intelligence report stating the strength of the Taliban force to be 8–10, compared to the more than 200 claimed by Patrick Robinson in Lone Survivor."
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