No Easy Day by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer
No Easy Day – The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The First Hand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden. Owen, Mark with Kevin Maurer. New York: Dutton (a member of Penguin Group), 2012. 336 pp. $26.95. Purchase at Amazon for $16.17 or less.
Note – I feel that I owe the readers and explanation as to why I decided to review this work that is not Christian at all. First, I served in the U.S. Army from 1998-2002 (active and reserve) and was not a believer in Christ. Second, there is much controversy about this work and, being a reviewer, I wanted to add a Christian voice to the discussion. Finally, I want to alert the readers of this review of the “real world” of the military and the need for prayers and “missionaries” (Christians enlisting to serve both God (evangelism) and country) to our Armed Forces.
Yes, we know the name Mark Owen is a pseudonym and that the real name has been revealed. I have no desire to share that name here. Suffice it to say that Mark Owen was an enlisted member of the United States Navy that wanted to be a Navy Seal since he was a teenager. Once he became a Seal, he wanted to ultimately be selected for what we know as Seal Team Six or the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
Kevin Maurer has covered special ops forces for nine years in Afghanistan, East Africa, Iraq, and Haiti. He has written four other books which can be found here.
Divided into nineteen chapters, the book really has two main objectives. First, Owen wants to show the reader a brief synopsis of the life of a Navy Seal. He does this in chapters one through nine or roughly half of the book. This background information basically lays the foundation for the main reason for the publishing of this book. That is, the death of Osama Bin Laden.
The last half of the book details the training and execution of arguably the greatest mission this side of 9/11 that any military unit has been involved. Owen makes it clear that his team was not chosen based upon ability for every member of Seal Team Six has the ability. Rather, the selection was based upon availability.
It must be noted that this book is not Christian and therefore I am going to offer two different perspectives on my review. Owen wrote this book “to set the record straight” (p. 297). It is my belief that this is what makes this book so controversial. Much of what has been reported is contradicted by this member of the team that took Bin Laden out. Given the nature of a Seal and the code by which they live by (see, Integrity), I certainly have no reason to doubt what this man wrote. As for the politicians, well, I will leave that for you to decide.
To the end in which Owen wrote the book “to set the record straight,” I believe he accomplished his goal. He did so with a straight-laced and fact-filled approach. I will say, however, that while all of the language in the book does truly depict military life, it seems to me that it was unnecessary in relating the story to the rest of the world. It was, however, accurate to what I recall to be military life and camaraderie.
I appreciated the detail in which he described the events in his life as a Seal. One definitely understands that the life of a Seal is tough on the individual and even tougher on the family. In an odd way, they would not have it any other way. These men are willing to sacrifice everything (maybe to a fault) so we can maintain our freedom in the United States. To that end, we owe each member of the military a debt of gratitude far greater than we can imagine.
The second perspective I would like to offer is an evangelical voice to the conversation. Aside from the mere mention of his parents being missionaries in Alaska, there is no mention of faith throughout the book at all. Everything that happens is seen as “luck” and sheer coincidence. This is the mindset of the military (yes, I am painting with broad strokes here), that God does not exist or if He does, He is not concerned with “me.” Here is where we, as Christians, can have an impact. For many of us, we can only pray for the military men and women. For some, we can begin outreach with the gospel to the men and women of the military. Still, for a few, there is a mission field here that can be infiltrated with the gospel. It is very much needed…trust me.
Think for a moment that these men and women are often in harm’s way and could die at any moment and enter an eternity apart from Christ. That is far more unbearable than any war we may fight here on Earth. It is worse than any terrorist attack on American soil. The reality is our military personnel are living apart from Christ and most don’t care and would get angry at the mere mention of needing to repent of sin. This book shows the massive need for a call to action by the soldiers of the Lord to engage the soldiers of the United States.
As one who was in the Army and not a believer in Christ, my testimony includes my squad leader who showed me what a true Christian looked and lived like and a US Navy member who flat out told me on a ship in the Atlantic that I was going to die and go to Hell in my sin if I did not repent. It wasn’t until two years later (after 9/11) that the Holy Spirit showed me my sin and my need for salvation in Christ. While it is true that the Lord saves, He uses the proclamation of the gospel to save (Rom. 10:14-15). Those two military men in my life are part of my salvation testimony.
I can only recommend this book to an older crowd because of the language and some of the off-color anecdotes (as real to life as they may be in the military!). That being said, I do recommend this work for multiple reasons. First, I believe the author to be telling the truth. There is too much detail that can be refuted by too many people that would get him in more trouble than it is worth. Second, this is arguably the greatest military operation to take place in the last fifty years. The story of what took place will inspire many–either to join the military or to even pray for the military. Regardless, you will be more grateful to the service men and women for their sacrifice after reading this work.
Finally, most of the proceeds from the sales of this book are being given to various charities for Seals who have been killed while in the line of duty.