I had the great opportunity to read an early copy of Brandon Webb’s The Red Circle: The Making of A Navy SEAL Sniper. I read a lot of military books about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq so it was right up my alley. Add in that it was a sneak peak and yeah, I was hooked.
The thing I love about being a soldier is the way that the guys to my left and right will give each other such a massive amount of shit for just about anything. Brandon’s book takes you deep into the aggressive type-a male world of the Navy SEALs and gives you a front row seat to the making of men with honor and resolve. Not at the chest beating and check out the coolness that is me crap you see on TV. But at the strength and determination it takes to make it through the toughest training on earth. Then you have to survive the teams.
Brandon starts at the beginning, with his mom, who is stymied on how to keep this high energy kid out of trouble pretty much from the moment he starts crawling. As a mom, that had me hooked. As a soldier, hell yeah, the book drew me in and didn’t let go.
Brandon’s story starts out like any other kid who joins the military. I could completely relate to being that you private, thrown into a barracks with a ton of people you didn’t know, didn’t understand and maybe even didn’t like. Young, wanting to go right when the military sends you left. Looking at the assholes in charge of you and not just thinking you can do better but knowing you can. And having the stubborn determination to keep fighting the machine that is determined to keep you down is what sets apart those people who succeed in the military and those who don’t.
There were parts of this book that had me crying with laughter. When he goes into getting hazed for…well, the amount of shit his team puts him through for one tiny transgression is absolutely amazing. You’ll never look at hot sauce the same again.
Harder though, is when he shifts to doing what SEALs do and how the world changed after the bombing of the USS Cole. For those of us who were in the military of the late 90s, we remember well that the shift started in 1998, long before those buildings burned in 2001 and Brandon doesn’t flinch away from those changes. He takes you through the mountains in the Hindu Kush.
And he takes you through losing friends. Brothers lost in combat. Friends who died while he could do nothing. Through a little boy asking where his daddy is. Through fighting with a risk averse officer who won’t send them into the fight while their buddies were dying.
For anyone who has lost a loved one to this or any other war, there are parts of this book that are hard to read. But the experience is one you don’t want to miss. Brandon’s book is for anyone who wants to read about a man who trained the world’s deadliest snipers but more, it’s a book for anyone who wants to get a glimpse, the barest taste of what it feels like to be part of the elite.
The Red Circle is a great read, one that I highly recommend to all readers.