Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior

Rorke Denver and Ellis Henican. Hyperion, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4013-2479-7
Denver and journalist Henican (Home Team) take readers from Hell Week to the battlefield and back to base in this portrait of the grueling life of a Navy SEAL. Having led over 200 missions as a SEAL officer, Denver is acutely accustomed to the bizarre mix of lucidity and confusion that can descend on the minds of even highly trained soldiers in the midst of war. It’s his job to make sure that heady blend doesn’t come as a surprise when it matters most. Denver explains that joining “the greatest man club in the world” requires “talent, training, and instinct,” and each of these is subjected to systematic honing in the leadup to induction. The program begins with a six-month marathon course of “medieval ferocity,” during which 70%–80% of the class drop out. After that comes the infamous “round-the-clock relentlessness” of Hell Week, five 24-hour days of punishing physical challenges. The titular few that survive then enter into a kind of liberal arts program of war making—courses run the gamut from parachuting to computer hacking and language studies. The result: warriors “in every sense of the word.” Interweaving tales of battle and reflections on what it means to be a professional killer, Denver crafts an awe-inspiring sketch of soldierly excellence. 16-page b&w photo insert. Agent: Peter H. McGuigan, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
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