"No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL" (Dutton), by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
Mark Owen, a pseudonym for former U.S. Navy SEAL team member Matt Bissonnette, caused a stir with "No Easy Day," his firsthand account of a mission in Pakistan in 2011 that resulted in Osama bin Laden's death because he didn't get the book cleared by the Defense Department before publication.
In his follow-up, "No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL," Owen goes through the proper channels, detailing his journey as a member of SEAL Team Six (minus the Osama bin Laden mission). A few sections of the book were redacted.
Owen reveals few details about his life before and after the military. He skims over his childhood: He's the son of missionaries, grew up in a remote village in Alaska, loved to hunt, bought his first assault rifle from a history teacher and always dreamed of becoming a SEAL.
To become part of this elite fighting force, Owen had to learn how to swim and face an intense fear of heights. Facing your fears, pushing beyond your limits, working as a team member and learning from mistakes are part of the SEAL philosophy.
He expresses frustration with a restrictive bureaucracy and the changes in the rules of engagement, which he says hampered his efforts to get the job done. But he steers clear of politics and criticism of the current administration, perhaps a lesson he learned from his first book.
"No Hero" is filled with stories from Owen's various missions. Some are unique and provide useful lessons, while others seem redundant. He offers only a few pages about his post-military life, skimming over important issues like combat stress and his re-entry into civilian life. These omissions make the book seem unbalanced.
Owen's writing is genuine and insightful. He may be blunt, even crude at times, but he doesn't brag or preach. He recounts his experiences and explains the lessons he learned from them.
"No Hero" may have been intended for the next generation of SEALs, but the book's lessons can also be useful to civilians.