Reading this book was almost like watching a movie. Every single paragraph described an action-packed scenario; almost every verb was an action verb. This book is certainly a page-turner. Thanks to the guy who recommended this book to me, reading ‘Lone Survivor‘ not only helped to kill my time at home while I was waiting out for the BIG day, it also gave me a better understanding of how life is like working as a Navy SEAL in the United States.
The story narrates the process by which Marcus joined and trained as a U.S. Navy SEAL and describes his mission when he was sent to Afghanistan to capture a leading Taliban member associated with Osama bin Laden. This he did together with three other team members Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson. Their mission started off on a very fatal note, with them encountering a group of goat herdsboys who later on gave away their location to the Taliban fighters at their hideout. That very night, the Taliban fighters sneaked a successful attack on Marcus and his team mates; all but Marcus survived this ferocious attack. Marcus witnessed the valiance and bravery by which Michael, Danny and Matthew bit their tongues to fight their enemies even till their very last breaths. The rest of the chapters recount his near-death experiences after the attack, how his Pashtun saviors protected him from the Taliban and, eventually, how he got out of the mountainous terrain with the help of a much respected Pashtun elderly.
My first reaction to Marcus’ story – really? Is that how a Navy SEAL train? Is Hell Week even survivable, by human standards?? (Hooyah!) Are these Navy SEAL trainees humans?? It is indeed unimaginable, what these professional fighters, well, if I could call them that, have to go through to become a member of the special operation forces. There’s no time for sleep, eat and rest. I absolutely salute all that these people have to go through. It’s not a job cut out for just anybody. Only the toughest, bravest, strongest and most persistent ones can go through any one of the activities designed for them. Only the best survives.
And no wonder. After reading about the type of mission that these Navy SEALs are involved in, specifically this one which Marcus was involved in, any ordinary citizen would have died in an instant. Matter of factly, all those who sacrificed their lives – Danny, Matthew and Michael – they were still shooting back at their enemies while suffering from a shot in the leg, back, neck, head etc. Oh right, they suffered not just one shot but a few each. It was touching to read about them covering for another team mate at the expense of their own lives, during the most dangerous times of all. This is a selfless character that can be developed only amongst the best spirited whose attention is always on the mission goal and not on his selfish needs. Admittedly, I did cast doubts on the accuracy of this story since the narration in this book could have been hyped up to enhance its sales. But the truth is that those three Navy SEALs did sacrifice their own lives and failed to return back home from mission. I believe Marcus would do them no honour to be lying about their actions in the book, especially since they were the ones who saved his life.
On the other hand, it is a relief to know that there are good Pashtuns among the Afghanistan villagers, especially in this decade when it is easy to equate any Afghan to a terrorist. Interestingly, under the Pashtun tribal code of honour, they are required to protect anyone they come across who are in need of help. This was what saved Marcus’ life from the dangers of the Taliban – the code of honour that does not discriminate anyone according to their race, nationality or gender. It reminds me of the book ‘I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban’. She is a Pashtun as well, and holds on to the true belief that the right to education belongs to everyone, though because of that, she and her family have had to fight against the continuous attacks from the Taliban who made unreasonable accusations against their beliefs and actions. It is a pity that there is such a wide divide in beliefs and ideologies within a nation border, and much more regrettable that such differences are irreconcilable regardless of time and space. At least there is consolation knowing that true altruism has not ceased to exist altogether, even in the harshest environment, and that there are still good to be found among the bad.
I came across an article posted in June last year about the state of one of Marcus’ saviour, Mohammad Gulab. He was the one who took care of Marcus while the latter was injured. Gulab also shielded Marcus from the bullets of the Taliban while they made their way out of his hiding place to reunite with the rest of the U.S. forces. Apparently, his whole family is currently in danger after having received threats from the Taliban for helping a U.S. Navy SEAL out of Asadabad. There seemed to be some miscommunication issues between Gulab and Marcus as well, for Gulab has indicated the need to move his whole family to America for safety reasons but Marcus has not responded to his call for help. It would be a great tragedy if Gulab dies in the hands of his own people, trying to help a supposed ‘enemy’ of the Muslims, all in the name of a tribal code of honour. 😥 Marcus, if you ever read this post, please help him!
Overall a great book to read for a quiet adventure at home – greatly recommended for those who enjoy real-life thrillers. I hope to be able to grab a copy of the movie DVD of this story to watch soon, just to see if my imagination matches up to reality.