Reviews

Shane Harris on "No Easy Day"

By Ritika Singh
Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 3:05 PM

Shane Harris at Washingtonian has this review of ex-Navy SEAL Matt Bissonette's book on the Osama bin Laden raid. It begins:

“Let me be clear, I do not consider this to be my story,” writes retired Navy Seal Mark Owen in his firsthand account of the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, No Easy Day, published Tuesday.

Your first clue that this book is, in fact, about Owen is its subtitle: “The Autobiography of a Navy Seal.” Your next clue lies in the pages themselves, which reveal a deeply personal story of a man who dedicated his life to self-perfection and sacrifice to country, and who saw battle in some of the most dangerous corners of the world.

But it’s also the story of a man, now at the end of a 14-year career as one of America’s best warriors, who has a personal beef with his bosses in Washington, most notable among them the President of the United States.

The first half of Owen’s book is a richly detailed, at times moving and gripping account of his personal journey from a childhood spent in a remote Alaskan village, where he learned to hunt and became a self-professed “gun geek,” to the rugged battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and the shark-infested oceans off the coast of Somalia, where Owen was part of a team that rescued shipping captain Richard Phillips from pirates in 2009. Owen even fought inside Pakistan before he became part of the bin Laden story, which he doesn’t get to in earnest until chapter 9 (of 19).

When he does, we find a by-now familiar narrative. Owen­—who has been identified by news organizations as Matt Bissonnette, age 36—was part of the Seal team that helicoptered into bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the early morning of May 2, 2011, and stormed the home of the world’s most wanted man. Owen was one of two Seals who actually shot bin Laden, and this moment, which accounts for mere seconds of the approximately 40-minute mission, gives us the only notable variation on the widely reported version of events.

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