I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior by Howard E. Wasdin book review

 

I am a SEAL Team Six Warrior

Howard E. Wasdin

Nonfiction/War

192 pages

 

This was a really interesting book for me to read.  I generally read fiction books, but this one is a nonfiction, a collection of memoirs from Howard Wasdin, an American Soldier who works his way through to be one of the elite warriors of SEAL Team Six.  He covers a necessary amount of his childhood and rocky relationship with his parents, and the circumstances that led him to join the Navy.  He talks about the different trainings that he went through in detail, and all of them sound terrible to me.  He does things that most ordinary people could never do; that I know I could never do.  Wasdin writes about all the preparation that he goes through to become a sniper on the Team he wanted to be on: Hell Week, SEAL Team Two, SEAL Team Six, and Marine Corps Scout Sniper School.

 

Early on, he remembers a mantra that the SEALs live by.  “The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war” (4).  The SEALs are all about training.  He talked about practicing during his free time or down time to get better at the things he felt he needed to.  This tight knit group of SEALs working together formed bonds that were, admittedly to Wasdin, more important than his marriage, which always took a backseat to his job.

 

These memoirs cover a few different missions that Wasdin was present during, but much of it takes place in Mogadishu, Somalia.  He recalls his own realization that the men he is fighting against are human, like him.  “Whether you’re winning or losing, war is hell.  It’s important to understand that our enemies are human” (60).  I think war is often glamourized, in video games and such, and this book certainly shows the horrific sides of it.  He said something else that really made me think, “Most Americans don’t realize how blessed we are – we need to be more thankful” (102).  Compared to the lives he described in Somalia, we have it pretty good elsewhere and it makes me sad for people living in other countries under those terrible conditions.

 

One last quote I really liked was toward the end, when Wasdin was recounting the day he was injured multiple times and almost died in battle.  “Anyone who says he wasn’t scared in combat is either an idiot or a liar.  Everyone becomes scared.  It’s a healthy fear.  I’d never want to go into combat with someone who wasn’t a little afraid” (137).

 

I thought this was a really good book, very interesting with a lot of terrifying information.  And it was cool to get a deep look into the training that the SEALs in particular go through.  One issue I had with the book was the typos.  I don’t usually even catch them when I’m reading, but I noticed quite a few in this that bothered me.  However, that didn’t outweigh my liking for the book near enough to not recommend it.  If you are interested in war, military, nonfiction in general, I think you will really enjoy this book.

Garden of Beasts book review

Garden of Beasts

Jeffery Deaver

Spy/Thriller

536 pages

I have had people suggest Jeffery Deaver to me before, but Garden of Beasts is the first one that I have read. I really enjoyed it. I thought that it was a well-written piece of fictional history that revolved around a unique hero in the story. This novel is set to take place in Berlin in 1936, a few years prior to the start of WWII. Hitler was working to rearm and build up Germany’s army secretly, so that he would be well prepared for another battle. The unlikely hero in this story is a previous war veteran who, through a series of difficult choices upon his return from war, ended up being a “button man,” or a hit man. Paul Shumann is picky with his hits though, and only kills men who he feel are evil and deserve it. The government secretly solicits his services to “touch off” a man who is integral to Hitler’s rearming Germany. In exchange, Paul will be paid handsomely as well as receive a clean criminal record.

Paul sets off for Berlin during the Olympics, using that as his cover. This book is filled with a lot of believable covert activities that lead Paul through his setting up to assassinate Reinhard Ernst. At the same time, it follows the path of a local police officer who is simultaneously and quite skillfully tracking Paul down. With the help of a friendly asset in Berlin, Paul gets ready to overcome the difficult odds and make the hit. Things continue to go wrong and get harder, but Paul is determined not to give up.

Of course, Paul meets a woman and has a romantic interest in Berlin, to make things even more complicated, and she doesn’t know why he’s really there. This book was full of surprises and it had some twists that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed it and I am excited to have found a new author whose books I believe will be able to keep me going for a while. Deaver reminded me, based on this book only so far, of Robert Ludlum and some of his better books. I am excited to continue on with more of his novels and see where else he will take me.

Milkweed book review

Milkweed

Jerry Spinelli

Historical Fiction/War/Coming-of-Age

230 Pages

 

My mom gave me this book and I had no idea what it was going to be like. I ended up really enjoying it! First of all, I usually enjoy books relating to Nazis, because I think it is usually a very interesting subject. This book takes place in Warsaw during WWII. The Nazis were steadily taking control of everything and and doing whatever they could to control and overrule the Jewish people.

 

The story begins with a young boy who thinks that his own name is “Stopthief,” as this is what he is used to people yelling at him. He has no memory of life other than being on his own and fending for himself, which he does, of course, by stealing to survive. Stopthief meets a group of misfits and other orphan boys who take him in so they can all survive toghether, and they rename him “Misha.” For a while, things are great, with new clothes to wear and plenty of food to eat, until the Nazis decide to force all the Jews to move into the Ghetto.

 

Misha and his friends continue to sneak out and smuggle food, trying to feed themselves and help others. Misha is taken in by another family and lives with them through their own hardships, while trying to help. They give Misha part of the family life he’s never known, and he does the best he can to sneak out and provide extra food for them. Then the Nazis begin the “relocation” of the Jewish people. His adopted family warns him to take his new “sister” and fun away from the Nazis and keep her safe. Misha struggles with issues of his own and the book follows his own coming-of-age and maturation. I really enjoyed this book, I thought it was very entertaining, while heartbreaking. If you are interested in books of this nature or during this time period, I think you will really like this novel.

The Things They Carried book review

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

Realistic Fiction/War

233 Pages

 

The Things They Carried is a collection of war stories from the Vietnam War. O’Brien points out more than once in the book that it is a work of fiction, and not real; however, the stories certainly have a ring of truth. I’m sure that they are altered, but I would imagine that there is a lot of truth to many of the stories in this novel. It tells of O’Brien’s own experiences in the war, and over the course of the book, you get to know him and some other members of his platoon.

 

This novel begins by talking about what the soldiers carried, both by necessity and by choice. There is a lot of information and specifics here, but I found none of it boring. It was very interesting to learn about the specific weights of weapons, supplies, and other things that they carried. I imagined myself in their shoes, and thought about how hard it would be to lug everything around in the middle of a war that they were required to carry. I have never been to war, and I respect those that have. This novel brings to light some of the unimaginable things that those in war have to deal with. It shows the skills they pick up in order to cope with what becomes everyday life to them, things many of us might find savage and unable to understand.

 

O’Brien had a lot of thoughts in this book that I really liked. One thing he said was, “But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget” (33). He writes because he was there. He writes because he can’t forget and this is his way of dealing with it, almost like a therapy, it seems. He goes on to talk about war stories and they purpose they serve. “That’s what war stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night where you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story” (36). O’Brien isn’t able to forget, and he doesn’t want us to forget.

 

I can understand why this book might be hard for some to read. I imagine that for those who have been to war, this might bring back some memories that had been repressed. I imagine that for those who have been affected by relatives who have come home from war different, it could be a hard thing to read. I also think that it is an important book that could lend some understand to those of us who haven’t been to war. One other quote from the novel that I liked is this: “War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead” (76).

 

My one complaint with the novel was that the timeline was a little messy. He jumped back and forth a bit to before the war, during the war, later in the war, earlier in the war, etc. That aspect of it made parts of it harder for me to follow. However, I think that most of the chapters in the book would have worked standing alone on their own, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, I just prefer things in chronological order. I think that anyone interested in war or learning about the Vietnam War experiences in particular would like this novel. As I said, it is a work of fiction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if much of it was true, or at least derived from true events. I enjoyed reading this book, and will look at more of O’Brien’s works in the future. I wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers, because of some of the content included. I mean, it is war, so there are going to be things disturbing inside. There is also some course language, but I felt like it was purely in context with the soldiers and lifestyles they were in. However, if it would bother you, beware, because it is in there.