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No Easy Day - killing Osama

Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer
First published in 2012, this is the firsthand account of Seal Team Six and Operation Neptune Spear, from which the film “Zero Dark Thirty' drew much of its material.

Written in collaboration with defence journalist Kevin Maurer, 'No Easy Day' is the autobiography of one of the Seal team leaders who assaulted Osama Bin Laden's hideaway in Abottabad. His ' nom de guerre ' for publication is given as Mark Owen.

Apart from the Abbotabad mission, the writer served 13 combat tours. He has written a separate account of his own life called 'No hero:the evolution of a Navy Seal '

This first book covers the author's time in the US Navy's Seal community,from initial training through to his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. It gives a real feel for the lifestyle of those who undergo the additional 9 month selection training for the East Coast Seal Development Group (DEVGRU) from which the Abbotabad team was drawn.

There are wry insights into the reality of special forces life. The day after returning from the Somali coast having taken part in the mission to free the hijacked skipper of the Maersk Alabama,our hero is mowing his backyard and changing nappies.

He details from the Seal perspective the abortive attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001.No mention of British involvement.

He then covers his own deployment in 2007 on a second Tora Bora mission,this time working with the Pakistan Army out of Islamabad. Another failure.

Focusing on the Abbotabad mission itself, the book covers the raid into Pakistan over 120 pages. There is a helpful six page graphic showing the separate elements eg INFIL, Assault phase and EXFIL .

One aspect that comes across loud and clear is the awareness that this is a mission which will be scrutinised, Hollywoodised and played out over years to come.

The team joke about casting the movie (nobody is getting George Clooney or Matt Damon). They are also fully aware that the politicians back home will take the credit - not least President Obama.

Overall,a healthy dose of realism on a controversial and technically challenging mission in difficult circumstances. No Easy Day is a worthwhile read to counterbalance the endless Hollywood treatment.

Four out of five Mr Mushroomheads.

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