Words: Alex Triaca
Lone Survivor is the harrowing account of a small US Navy SEAL team deployed in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The team has been sent in to kill or capture a high-profile Al-Qaeda leader thought to be operating in the area. Almost from the get-go the mission seems doomed and before the team can see the second night all but one of them are dead.
Lone Survivor is written by Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell who starts by recounting his early upbringing and the training that eventually lands him in the mountains of Afghanistan. From an early age Luttrell was determined to join the US armed forces and become part of the Special Forces brotherhood. Luttrell explains in graphic detail the torturous BUDS training course that transforms a regular soldier into a precision tool; a US Navy SEAL. He highlights the effects this training has on a person not only physically, but also mentally. How the training instills a bond that is so tight you are willing to lay down your life for the man who shoots beside you.
The story then transfers to Afghanistan where the eventual disaster of Operation Redwing occurs. This is a story of cold-blooded and ruthless killers, the bond of brotherhood and love they share for each other, and the kindness that can be shown by complete strangers even in the most desolate of places.
Luttrell’s patriotic and religious views come out very strongly in Lone Survivor. He is a good old Texas boy and is ready to do anything and everything for the United States of America. The book has been embroidered with Luttrell’s own opinions on topics such as the “liberal media” and hugely overstated opposition force. He comes across as callous in his judgement of situations and people, however, one gets the feeling that this is due to a strong desire to cast the members of his team who died in a powerful light.
What makes the book even more interesting is that it has recently been turned into an award-winning movie starring Marc Wahlberg as Luttrell with Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster as the other three members of the team. The movie was directed by Peter Berg who made a point of including Luttrell in the movie making process. Luttrell and several active-duty SEALs put the leading actors through a condensed BUDS training course in order to portray the bond shared by SEALs as authentically as possible.
The movie is made with the book strongly in mind and it is clear that the director has attempted to portray the tragic events with the greatest of accuracy. The result is a movie that will rival Blackhawk Down as the go-to conflict movie. As for the book, it is a must-read for anyone interested in the armed conflict in Afghanistan – whether that interest is in the men and women serving in Afghanistan, the people living there or the political chaos in battle, this book has something for all.