No easy life

I was aiming for an upbeat post this week, a break from financial tomfoolery and doomed teen romance. Maybe a fast-paced psychological thriller, or some indulgent chick lit buried at the bottom of my shelves. …Or maybe I could just decide to read about the death of Osama Bin Laden and screw all that.

I picked up No Easy Dayβ€”the Pentagon-condemned military memoir by Navy SEAL and Bin Laden mission participant Matt Bissonnetteβ€”out of, well, sheer curiosity. So rarely are we afforded the privilege of transparency when it comes to the military that it seemed an awful waste not to take advantage of this book’s release. Moreover, the Pentagon’s overwrought reaction to the whole thing made it sound as though Great and Powerful Secrets were contained within.

If I’m being perfectly honestβ€”with you all, with myselfβ€”I found No Easy Day less interesting than I probably should have. Bissonnette (who wrote the book under the pen name Mark Owen) is clearly an experienced and talented SEAL, but a professional storyteller he is not. The book, which skips around between the Bin Laden mission, preceding missions, a bit of military history and Bissonnette’s own experiences in training and combat, is straightforward and matter-of-fact, filled with the kind of practical detail that would be entirely mundane if it weren’t related to wildly important foreign policy decisions, and some of the most secretive and technologically advanced military missions in recent history. It’s sort of like Sookie Stackhouse (the narrator, not the TV iteration) quit her job at Merlotte’s, became a Navy SEAL and then wrote a book about it. While No Easy Day provides a wealth of information about the preparation that went into Operation Neptune Spear (seriously), it also provides a substantial amount of background on things like…what Navy SEALs wear, how they pack their gear, the intricacies of helicopter rides, the use of hammocks, and so forth.

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