A war memoir from a highly decorated Navy SEAL.The news flash from this book by retired SEAL O'Neill is that he fired the bullets that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. However, the shooting does not occur until more than 300 pages in; the narrative consists of much more than the sensational account of what happened on the top-secret mission to bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Some passages are redacted due to review of the manuscript by U.S. Department of Defense Prepublication and Security Review personnel. In addition, O'Neill disguises the identities of more than a dozen individuals. As a result, judging the accuracy of the sensitive, war-related information presents difficulties, especially in light of previously published information about the bin Laden mission. (The author does not mention the controversial book No Easy Day by fellow SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote using the pen name Mark Owen.) Whatever controversy might ensue, most of the memoir is enlightening about military special forces, especially the SEAL component. Born in 1976 and reared in Butte, Montana, O'Neill enlisted in the Navy in 1995 with the goal of becoming a SEAL. He understood the rigorous training, and he knew the washout rate was high, but he persisted, overcoming months of physical and mental rigor. The author had his first deployment in 1998 and went on to participate in top-secret assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq in addition to battling Somali pirates. Zealously patriotic, O'Neill seems to have never seriously questioned the motivations or consequences of his missions. During his time as a SEAL, O'Neill married and became a father, and he discusses the havoc caused by his military assignments regarding his family life. A fast-paced account quite likely to engender strong reactions among readers concerned with the U.S. military's roles in foreign conflicts.
"Harrowing . . . In frank and vivid detail and blunt and plain language, Mr. O'Neill describes some of the 400 counterterrorism operations and close quarter combat he experienced in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere through his career as a SEAL . . . An interesting and insightful book about some of the most historic moments in modern American military history."
“A jaw-dropping, fast-paced account.”
—New York Post
"Leaves a lump in the reader's throat . . . The Operator is really a book about life."
"Along the way, the reader learns much about the elite force the nation relies on to undertake often-dangerous covert missions . . . O'Neill, the author, exhibits skills in blending humor with pathos [as he describes] the intricacies of becoming a SEAL and relating the toll a SEAL's life takes on his family."
"O'Neill absorbingly relates the 2011 attack on bin Laden's Pakistan compound . . . [Other] fascinating stories include his role in the successful 2009 mission to free Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, and those of too many fellow SEALs who were killed in battle. Fans of battlefield narratives, such as Michael Golembesky's Level Zero Heroes, will relish this gripping perspective on 21st-century warfare."
“A riveting, unvarnished and wholly unforgettable portrait of America’s most storied commandos at war."
—Joby Warrick, author of Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction