Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Mark Owen recounts his Seal training, the previously unreported missions that his team executed and the ultimate mission in which Osama Bin Laden fell. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden is a first-hand account of the War on Terror.
Who doesn’t remember where they were on September 11, 2001? I was pregnant and getting ready to head out to work. I watched in horror as the towers fell. Mark Owen, also watching on the other side of the world, knew that this would be the time for action and waited for the call he knew that he’d get saying that things were just starting for his elite team. While it took longer than anticipated, Bin Laden was always the brass ring and Owen is clearly pleased to be part of the team that took him out.
When I sat down to read this book, the media had prepared me for a salacious tale — the book that should have never been written. What it actually turned out to be was the story of a solider. Who he was, what he struggled with, how his family suffered and ultimately the achievement of the goal of his Seal career. Owen tells us at the start that he won’t recount any top secret material or give the reader any information that could compromise national security — his career is all about protecting the U.S. and he didn’t plan to stop now. I have read other first hand books about military history and this one will fit next to those comfortably. Owen himself tells us that he intends this to be the “Black Hawk Down” of the War on Terror.
We are educated by this book. Owen uses military terms and explains them. He tells us what Seals go through to qualify and training and the high number of dropouts. He tells us that a military man puts his job first and even when they’re home it’s hard to get mentally away from the military. He is honest but not sensational. He tells us about the preparation and detail-orientated nature of preparation by his team. When they went into the compound, they didn’t know what the inside of the house looked like, but they knew every door and which way it opened from the outside in. They built a model on which to practice. We know what it would have meant had that helicopter crashed when they prepared to fast rope into the compound. Owen’s narrative, even in action, is relatable. We’re having coffee with this guy and listening in awe to his life story and the things he’s done which may sound very hard to us.
On a negative note, the narrative jumps around in a way that can be distracting. One moment we’re in training with Phil and Charlie and the next we’re in Mark’s native Alaska wearing a homemade fur hat with feet freezing. The jumps are indelicate and distracting and many times I had to track back to rediscover where we’d gone.
At the end of the day, this is an account of someone who lived history. I didn’t find No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden to be the sensationalized tell all advertised. This was a story meant to inspire the future and to make us understand the gravity of the responsibility that the men and women who serve our country carry every day.
You can read an excerpt and buy No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen on