No Easy Day – Would You Read It?

There has been a lot of  controversy surrounding the book No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer.

Synopsis from Amazon:

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.

Some feel that the author broke the SEALs’ code of silence. Some feel that it was his story to tell…about the rigors of training, the extreme level of danger, and their dedication to our county.

I for one believe that the SEALs, and all troops for that matter, deserve the utmost respect. They put themselves and everything else in their lives aside for their country. If the author felt that he needed to tell his story, then I think he should be able to tell it. If it was told for just for monetary gain, then that will be his cross to bear. I dare say he has alienated some of the soldiers he served with in the past and is already dealing with the consequences of his actions. I have not read the book yet and wouldn’t recognize a security breach if I saw it, but I can only hope that the information provided isn’t something that our enemies can use for their benefit.

That being said, I am not totally against reading this book. The subject matter is very compelling to me. I would like your opinions though…Would you read it and why?

Jenn’s review of The Badge, The Street and the Cop: A Lance Lapore Fictional Memoir by Leo LePage

I read this book on a recommendation from my dad, a retired Hartford Policeman of 30 years. It’s a fictional memoir written by a Hartford Cop in the 60s – 80s who served during the infamous riots. My dad went into the force in 1970 so he worked with him for a little over 10 years. The riots were over but the tension remained high.

I want to start by saying that I have the utmost respect for police officers. Like in any profession there are dishonest and dirty cops, but I truly believe that most that enter the field do so with the purest of intentions. They want to make a difference; they want to keep us safe.

 I remember those kids in the projects. Their eyes glazed over with the thousand-yard stare, surrounded by violence and empathy, they battled to survive. They pondered their future and wondered what swallowed them. I would like to think I helped some of them and made a difference. I can only wish that I could of helped them all, but that just could not be.

Being a police officer is most often a thankless profession. They face criticism and put their lives at risk on a daily basis. The author did a great joy of portraying that. He served during a time when cops walked the beat without radios and had to rely on store owners, call boxes and skeptical home occupants. Cages that currently separate the accused from the police officers weren’t there for protection.

I felt the pride that I feel for cops like my dad swell in my chest when I read the speech that the author received as a new recruit from his Chief:

Starting tomorrow you will be assigned to squads within the ranks of the Hartford Police Department. You will fill the gaps on the thin blue line! You have chosen an honorable profession, but I warn you, it will take all you can give. Most of your career will be spent dealing with unsavory types, lost souls. You will be called upon repeatedly to show personal restraint. You will be asked to place your heart and soul, even your life, on the line on a daily basis. You will be constantly under the scrutiny of the public you serve. You will be harried and criticized over and over by the media and political bodies who govern them. Yet you will remain silent and go about your business in a professional concise manner. You must stifle rear, grief, and at times loneliness. As you go about this great calling, you will be besieged by temptation everyday of your careers. At times, you will be a psychiatrist, a teacher, a minister, and motivator of life. You will bring life into this world and you will see countless lives leave this world. As police officers, you are given a sacred trust. Men and women of society will trust you with their homes, their property, their children, even their lives. It is a trust given by man but monitored closely by our maker. A trust I would hesitate to violate.

The author provides a compilation of countless stories of the life of a Hartford cop. Even though the author admits to embellishing, the stories still feel true. You feel the fear, the tragedy and the camaraderie. He details the strong bond between all service workers and you can really appreciate the brotherhood. Men of all races come together like they do on the battlefield.  Men, black and white, had momentarily laid down their arms forgetting about hate. They had risked their lives to save what they had placed in peril: innocence. For a moment, out in the turmoil and civil strife, time had stood still and smiled.

The grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book were a little distracting, but as I understand it the publishers got the wrong manuscript so I tried to ignore them.

I was very happy to see his tribute to the wives of cops at the end of the book. Throughout the story, I was surprised that the author’s wife was not portrayed more. He certainly had his share of brushes with death and I think it would have added a personal element to focus on how that affected his wife and children.

I remember once, watching TV with my mom. The media was filming a bomb call that my dad was at. The next thing we knew we were watching as the windows of the building blew out. We had no idea what was happening and could only think the worst. I can’t remember if my dad had a cell phone at that point, but I do know that it seemed like forever before we found out that he was ok. It was agony. Spouses and families of cops go through this every day. When the phone rings or as you watch something unfold on TV; you hold your breath and pray that today isn’t the day you find out that you’ve lost them to the job.

So, his tribute that he shared was very close to my heart:

Tribute to a Cop’s Wife 

To my beautiful and loving wife

I’m sure you’ve heard times during our married life

From those who ask, aren’t you proud to be a policeman’s wife?

But let me say this; it’s you I’m proud of,

And they would be, too.

To be a lawman, is no easy task to do,

It’s what we have to do,

But it’s a much harder job to be his wife,

And it takes someone special like you.

And I know God chose you to be with me in this life.

Because he knew you had the quality and strength to be a cop’s wife.

Some may say that I have courage and I’m a hero and that sort of thing,

And when I hear it this thought to my mind it always brings,

It’s you, you’re the courage behind the man’s badge, don’t you see,

And it’s you who’s the real hero, not me.

And I know you get lonely and frustrated at times and wonder it it’s worth it all,

But if you ever left me, this brave, courageous, hero would be no man at all.

And I know you worry about the temptations I face on the streets, of the women of the night and girls I met,

But let me tell you this and you listen good,

There’s nobody on this Earth who could replace you,

They certainly never could. And I know there are times when I go to work and you kiss me good-bye,

That you must worry and wonder if this is the day I’ve been chosen to die,

And honey, if that should even happen and someday come true,

Remember, my very last thoughts on this earth will be of you

Jenn’s review of Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera

Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera is a true story of a family’s battle with alcoholism and drug addiction. The author came from a family of alcoholics. Dina herself is an admitted alcoholic and pill addict. All 3 of her daughters have struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, the youngest starting at 14 years old.

Not only is Dina trying to care for her daughters, she is the caregiver for her mother who has Parkinson’s disease and her grandson who has cerebral palsy. Their house is also an open door for other family members and friends who are in and out of work and rehab centers. Dina struggles to hold it all together while working at a job that she HATES and as a stand up comic, which she receives payment ranging from a small amount of money to a very, very small amount of money.

Intertwined are stories of parental neglect, rape, abuse, drug overdoses and numerous stints in rehab. She is constantly fighting for her daughters. She never gives up, even when pitted against the insurance companies who refuse to cover the cost of rehabilitation. It’s an exhausting battle that leads to a short stay in a mental ward when she can no longer handle the stress, guilt or enormous weight on her soul.

This book brings light to the frustrating lack of services that are available for addicts. She makes a valid point with here statement that our country is stuck in the 1980’s, when teenagers were sneaking behind the bleachers at football games, drinking cheap beer and smoking pot. No one wants to know that we have fourteen and fifteen year old IV heroin addicts. Crystal meth is completely taking over our communities. Drug dealers are now dealing more prescription medications than illegal drugs. These prescription drugs are resulting in fifteen year olds overdosing and dying all across our county…Teenage addicts have no place to go unless they come from some sort of money or their families have access to money.

She also brings more understanding to the chemistry behind addiction. I have read about this before but I really appreciated how she described it…how it sometimes starts. She talks about the child/teenager who doesn’t feel like they fit in. It feels like you are under water – that little bit of panic right before your head surfaces. You feel different, and not in a good way. You can feel the pressure on your skin. And you have to get out. Because you’re suffocating and no one has a clue. Then one day, you’re hanging out with friends and someone has something to drink or a drug. So you give it a try. Immediately you can feel your body coming up out of the water and you take a huge breath of air. You can feel the rush of relief. You can feel the warm sun on your face…For the first time in your life, you can breathe, and it’s (expletive) amazing…You don’t feel high – you feel like everyone else…And you never want to go back to the way you were…The brain chemistry of an addict or alcoholic is completely different. A drug or a drink is a life changer. It’s an awakening from a life spent in loneliness and fear. You have saved your own life. And once you’re awake, your brain will never let you forget it. From that moment on your brain says, “Get it, get it, get it, get more, get more,” and it never quiets. It is relentless. It is bigger than you. It’s so loud it’s deafening. To tell an addict or alcoholic to stop is the equivalent to saying, “Go back under the water.” But that’s impossible. An addict will do the most horrifying, demoralizing, immoral acts to avoid going back under the water where they will no doubt die.

So what do you do? You have to learn to live above the water without the drugs and booze – to feel the sun, and stretch your arms out and embrace and love life. You don’t have to go back under the water, but you must find that tiny flame that burns in each of us and help it grow so that the fire is so big, the stalking “get more” voice in your head shuts the (expletive) up. Until then, you must protect that tiny flame because at the end of the day, it will be the only thing to build a new life on.  

She deals with all the turmoil in her life with humor and rediscovered faith. She speaks a lot about your Divine Order. I believe God has a plan of each one of us. I say “Always try to move toward your Divine Order”. Move toward the things in life that are good and kind and loving. And that may be the best we can do. 

I found this writer to be so honest and brave. Her heartache is palpable. In spite of all the horrific events that happen to her and her family, she never gives up. It’s inspiring in many ways and I really enjoyed her use of humor to add levity to her story. It takes a special person to put her family’s issues in front of the world to see. It brings light to so many of our society’s issues and the need to address the epidemic of addiction in our nation. I am so glad that I read this book.

Lisa’s review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I just finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller. In this book he compares the living of a good life to the writing of a story. Our lives are a blank page and we decide in our actions (or lack thereof) the story we will write.

As this idea comes to him and as he forms it more deeply, he puts it into action in his own life. Literally. He gets off the couch, gets in shape, and goes on many adventures, including riding his bicycle across the country with a group to raise money for a good cause. And in doing so finds he gains so much more than he could have imagined.

He talks about the difficulty of life. And how there is value in things not always being easy. It is in those tough struggles that we learn and grow and improve. “The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.”

I love this idea. He writes, “People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.” We are the writers of our own stories. And when the final page is turned, what do we want the story we leave behind to say about us?

Also available at Barnes & Noble/Nook

To hear more thoughts from Lisa, please visit her blog at runcookquilt

Lisa’s review of Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

I’ve asked my good friend Lisa to be a “guest blogger” on our website. She is extremely insightful and has a great way with words. Here is her first review:

I just finished reading Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I’ve read several of her books and Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. She is open about being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and often talks about her faith in God and the support of her church having saved her. Those who know me know I have a messy complicated relationship with religion and, if you start preaching to me, I’m gonna run the other way cringing. Do not let the title of her book or the subject matter put you off if you are in the same camp. She is folksy, funny, and down to earth. I tend at times to be loony and neurotic and my mind often takes off in this crazy not good direction and drags me along unwillingly for the ride. She is similar and finds humor in this wacky human tendency and manages to laugh at herself for it, all the while finding love and goodness in all the not always good situations of life and people. When I am off down a crazy tangent of a dark and deserted back alley filled with stinky dumpsters and scary stray cats lurking in the shadows, reading her always helps center me and makes me laugh… laughter always being the best medicine! If you’ve not read any of her books, I highly recommend them!

Also available on the Nook

If you would like to read more from Lisa, please visit her blog at run cook quilt

Love is the Cure – another recommendation by Lisa

What a powerful book. Lisa is currently reading Love is the Cure – On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS by Elton John. Love Is The Cure is Elton’s personal account of his life during the AIDS epidemic, including stories of his close friendships with Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, and others, and the story of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. With powerful conviction and emotional force, Elton conveys the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life — and his infinite determination to stop its spread. Sales of Love Is the Cure benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Has anyone read this yet? Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Do you feel as if your views on this subject have changed by reading this text?