No Easy Day is more than the first primary-source story of the SEAL Team Six raid that killed Osama bin Laden; it's a single snapshot of the culture within the Navy SEALs. That snapshot, which may or may not be representative of the whole special forces culture, demonstrates extraordinary bravery and technical and battlefield competency, as well as a lack of empathy about some of the targets that politicians had ordered the SEALs to eliminate.
The author, who goes by the pen name Mark Owen (but numerous news sources have reported his real name is Matt Bissonnette) was for about 10 years a Navy SEAL, and from 2005-2011 a member of the elite unit officially called DEVGRU (Naval Special Warfare Development Group), but best known as "SEAL Team Six."
The book confirms much of the government story about bin Laden's death. With the bizarre dumping of bin Laden's body in the Indian Ocean, countless conspiracy theories emerged. Some claimed that the al-Qaeda leader had died years earlier, others that the death was a psy-ops ruse by the U.S. government and that bin Laden still lived. Americans were not permitted to hear testimony from any of the eyewitnesses, other than bin Laden's widow. And eyewitness testimony is often powerful evidence. Even No Easy Day will not quell the skepticism of every conspiracy theorist, but it does provide powerful eyewitness evidence that the government story is essentially true (the author differs on some minor details with the Pentagon version).
Regarding the heroism and bravery of SEALs, the author provides striking examples, of which the bin Laden raid is one. In the 2009 Maersk Alabama mission against Somalian pirates, the author served in a back-up capacity for SEALs rescuing the ship's captain, Richard Phillips. Navy SEALs shot three pirates and took a fourth one prisoner as they freed Phillips. Of the Somalia rescue, the author said, “It felt good to finally save a life instead of just taking guys out.” But he also complained of the delay in Washington to make the call to rescue hostage Captain Richard Phillips. His unit commander, “Phil,” said, “Dude, it's Washington. Does anything make sense?” This was something to which the author agreed: “We got a glimpse of the Washington machine and just how slow the decision-making could be.”
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