No Easy Day (Owen)

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden
Mark Owen, 2012
Penguin Group USA
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780525953722

For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moment

From the streets of Iraq to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean, and from the mountaintops of Afghanistan to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group—commonly known as SEAL Team Six—has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines.

No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.

In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in America’s ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owen’s story draws on his youth in Alaska and describes the SEALs’ quest to challenge themselves at the highest levels of physical and mental endurance. With boots-on-the-ground detail, Owen describes numerous previously unreported missions that illustrate the life and work of a SEAL and the evolution of the team after the events of September 11.

In telling the true story of the SEALs whose talents, skills, experiences, and exceptional sacrifices led to one of the greatest victories in the War on Terror, Mark Owen honors the men who risk everything for our country, and he leaves readers with a deep understanding of the warriors who keep America safe. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Mark Owen is a former member of the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six. In his many years as a Navy SEAL, he has participated in hundreds of missions around the globe, including the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips in the Indian Ocean in 2009.

Owen was a team leader on Operation Neptune Spear in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 1 May 2011, which resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Owen was one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist mastermind's hideout, where he witnessed bin Laden's death. Mark Owen's name and the names of the other SEALs mentioned in this book have been changed for their security. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
The emphasis of...No Easy not on spilling secrets. It is on explaining a SEAL's rigorous mind-set and showing how that toughness is created. The bin Laden story is the marquee event in No Easy Day, of course. But the formative steps in the author's own story are just as gripping.... Mr. Owen's new information about the Abbottabad attack adds a human element to much of what has been previously reported. Even reporting like Peter L. Bergen's in his meticulous book Manhunt does not have this new book's perspective. Mr. Bergen knew what the men had done, but this author knows what at least one of them was thinking.
Janet Maslin - New York Times

The writing is fast-paced, and Owen and Maurer tell some good yarns in a conversational style. They also neatly capture the camaraderie, the pranks, the constant training and the evident love that the men of SEAL Team 6 have for their jobs.
Washington Post

Make no mistake: No Easy Day is an important historic document. Think if we had a first-person account of the last minutes of Hitler in his bunker. No Easy Day is brisk and compelling in its telling of the training, execution and immediate aftermath of the Bin Laden mission by the elite Seal Team Six.
Los Angeles Times

A cast of characters, including Owen himself, artfully drawn, yet painfully human, passionate descriptions of a lifestyle that few are privy to, as well as its breathlessly paced, inexorable march toward an inevitable ending.... [I]t's a remarkably intimate glimpse into what motivates men striving to join an elite fighting force like the SEALS—and what keeps them there.
Associated Press

The book is a stomach-twisting close-up look at that historic mission in Abbottabad, told from the point of view of a super-elite member of SEAL Team Six who fired a bullet into bin Laden and helped carry away the corpse. Written in clean, polished prose... No Easy Day often reads like a gripping novel as the author recounts remarkably vivid details... No Easy Day puts you right there for every tense moment.
Entertainment Weekly

[Mark Owen] has given us a brave retelling of one of the most important events in U.S. military history.

The arch-terrorist's death was "just another job," according to this gung-ho memoir by a member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six that dispatched him. The pseudonymous Owen's (revealed by Fox News to be Matt Bissonnette) story is “generalized" and scrubbed of “classified information" but authentic enough to provoke Pentagon legal threats and convey a compelling realism. His meticulous narrative of the raid adds new wrinkles to the conventional account—he insists that Bin Laden did not try to fight or hide behind his wives before he was shot, unarmed, while peeking through a doorway (Owen sneers at his unpreparedness)—along with atmospheric details, from the terror of an initial helicopter crash to his cleaning of blood from Bin Laden's face for identifying photos. The raid caps Owen's well-observed memoir of training ordeals, awesome gear, bonding and banter, and special ops in Iraq and Afghanistan; co-author Maurer shapes these missions into tense scenes of strategizing, stealth and action. This is not a reflective book; the righteousness of post-9/11 military adventures is self-evident to Owen, and he worries only about measuring up to the SEAL standard of lethal teamwork. Still, it paints an absorbing portrait of the work-a-day soldierly professionalism that proved Bin Laden's nemesis. Photos.
Publishers Weekly

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for No Easy Day:

1. Why has "Mark Owen" written this book—what was his purpose? Is this a "tell-all" account...or something else?

2. Talk about the Navy SEALs—their mindset and toughness. What makes them different from other branches of the military? In fact, how does Team 6 differ from the other SEAL teams? Why was this particular team chosen for the attack on bin Laden's compound?

3. How does one become a SEAL—what qualities are looked for in a potential SEAL?

4. Talk about the training, physical and mental, that prepares SEALs for the road ahead.

5. What about the book's title, "No easy day"? It refers to a SEAL saying that "the only easy day was yesterday." Talk about the meaning of that sentence—what does it suggest about the SEALs?

6. How did Owen's own background shape his career? What was it about the book, Men in Green Faces, that inspired Owen?

7. Talk about the men's camaraderie among the men in SEAL Team 6. What causes the tight bonds? Do other military services have the same personal ties?

8. How does the information in this book either jibe with or differ from other accounts of the Abbottabad attack that you've either read or heard?

9. Talk about the intelligence, or lack of intelligence, regarding the Abbottabad hideout. Although CIA analysist Jen says she is "one hundred percent" certain that bin Laden was hiding there, could she be truly sure? Why...or why not?

10. What is Owen's reaction when he finds that bin Laden's guns were not loaded? He says "There is no honor in sending people to die for something you won't even fight for yourself." Do you find that an accurate, true, or distorted statement of bin Laden...or, indeed, of any leader?

11. During a rehearsal of the attack, a lawyer tells the SEALs that if bin Laden "is naked with his hands up, you're not going to engage him.... You will detain him." Why was that procedure not followed. Should it have been? What might have happened had bin Laden been captured alive?

12. Were you shocked by the men's (including Owen's) handling, of the "dead weight" of bin Laden's body? Do bin Laden's remains deserve respectful treatment...or not? What does their handling of the body suggest about the SEAL's attitude toward bin Laden and toward their jobs in general?

13. After the attack, how did the SEALs react to the President's press conference? What were they concerned might happen during the announcement? Why did the announcement feel anticlimactic?

14. What have you learned—about the SEALS, the operation, or the actual attack—that you did't know before reading No Easy Day.

15. Does this book live up to expectations? Even knowing the outcome, did you find it suspenseful? How so...or why not?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, onlne or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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