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Cover image for No easy day : the autobiography of a Navy SEAL : the firsthand account of the mission that killed Osama bin Laden
No easy day : the autobiography of a Navy SEAL : the firsthand account of the mission that killed Osama bin Laden

Large print ed.
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2012.
Physical Description:
381 pages (large print), [16] pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
General Note:
Mark Owen is a pseudonymous name.
Chalk one -- Green team -- Top five/Bottom five -- The second deck -- Delta -- Point man -- Maersk Alabama -- The long war -- Goat trails -- Something special in D.C. -- The pacer -- Killing time -- Go day -- Infil -- Khalid -- Third deck -- Geronimo -- Exfil -- Confirmation -- Touch the magic.
For the first time anywhere, the first-person account of the planning and execution of the Bin Laden raid from a Navy Seal who confronted the terrorist mastermind and witnessed his final moments.
Conference Subject:
Added Author:


Call Number
92 Owen, Mark 2012

On Order



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. No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for and execute the biggest mission of their lives. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Mark Owen is the pseudonym of Matt Bissonnette, a former member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group commonly known as SEAL Team Six who participated in the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips and the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. He is the author of No Easy Day and No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Books on Navy SEALs have poured off the presses for years, but this one has generated national interest and controversy for a reason the title makes clear. Sensibly, the author (a pseudonym of ex-SEAL Matt Bissonnette) works with military journalist Maurer (Gentlemen Bastards: On the Ground in Afghanistan with America's Elite Special Forces, 2012, etc.), and the result is a fast-paced, professional narrative that will appeal to military buffs as well as general readers. Raised in rural Alaska, Owen yearned to be a SEAL from childhood. He succeeded in 1998, passing the brutal screening and training. After several deployments, he passed another screening to join the SEAL's specialized anti-terrorism unit in 2004. This is a mostly traditional SEAL memoir filled with nuts-and-bolts descriptions of weapons, gear, training, tactics and short, nasty battles in which (unlike the movies) plenty goes wrong, but (like the movies) many bad guys pay the price. The book's second half delivers a precisely detailed, vivid account of the Osama bin Laden mission. Luck, good and bad, plays an essential role in any raid. One attacking helicopter crashed, but the veteran team worked around the mishap. On the bright side, the Pakistani hideout was feebly defended. The author does not deny that the SEALs shot every male on sight, bin Laden included. Since bin Laden was a significant figure, historians will consult this book as a primary source; they, as well as most general readers, will not regret it.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Mark Owen is a pseudonym for Matt Bissonnette, a Navy SEAL who took part in the 2011 raid on a compound in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. His muscular memoir was cowritten by Maurer, a journalist who has covered American special-ops forces for nearly a decade, including a stint as an embedded reporter in Iraq. Owen was already a SEAL at the time of the 9/11 attacks; the book begins shortly thereafter, as he is qualifying for the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (otherwise known as the famed SEAL Team Six), and follows him through various missions, culminating with a detailed account of the planning and execution of the assault on bin Laden's compound. His version of events has already sparked some controversy no surprise there, since the mission itself is still a controversial subject but it doesn't feel as though Owen intended to add fuel to the fire. Incendiary subject matter aside, this might feel somewhat familiar due to its thematic similarities to such books as Anthony Swofford's Jarhead, Evan Wright's Generation Kill, and Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down. Like those modern classics, No Easy Day doesn't merely tell war stories it also explores the culture of war and what it means to be a soldier. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This is the book of the moment and has already ended 50 Shades of Grey's record-setting run at the top of various best-seller lists. Last Sunday's 60 Minutes interview with the heavily disguised author only added fuel to the fire.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

EARLIER this year, under a halfmoon in eastern Afghanistan, I found myself on a C-130 transport plane with a group of American Special Operations commandos - maybe Navy SEALs, maybe Army Rangers. The operators, as they like to call themselves, had come for a mission, carried it out and were hitching a ride back to their base. They had long hair and long beards, and their eyes were very hard. They didn't smile and they didn't talk, not even to one another. When the plane landed, they disappeared. In the 11 years since 9/11, Special Operations commandos like SEALs and Rangers have done the dirty work of America's wars. By day, ordinary soldiers may be trying to win over the locals with water projects and new schools, but at night the SEALs and Rangers are swooping into villages and killing and dragging away guerrilla leaders. In Afghanistan, Special Operations teams carry out dozens of these missions every night: Kill and capture, kill and capture, kill and capture. It makes the eyes very hard. I thought of the men on the C-130 that night while reading "No Easy Day," the first-person account of the raid last year that killed Osama bin Laden. The author, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen - his real name is Matt Bissonnette - was a member of the SEALs for 10 years before he went on the mission to kill Bin Laden. The raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, is the heart of "No Easy Day," and it makes for a thrilling narrative. Still, in nearly 300 pages of what amounts to a memoir of his life as a SEAL, Bissonnette does not report a single twitch of conscience, barely a moment of reflection, not a twinge of regret. He does not appear to question, even for a moment, why he is in these countries, hunting down these men. He's a killing machine. But he's a good one. Almost half of "No Easy Day" is dedicated to Bissonnette's training as a SEAL and to a number of kill-and-capture raids he went on, most of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bissonnette, the son of missionaries who grew up in Alaska, is a nearly perfect physical specimen, able to tolerate tests of strength and endurance that would wreck or even kill most other men. In one particularly grueling mission in Afghanistan, Bissonnette and his comrades traversed miles of nearly vertical escarpments to sneak up on a Taliban compound. The secret of the SEALs, Bissonnette writes, is knowing when to tiptoe and when to pounce: "We started to creep forward. Everyone was quiet, and each step was deliberate. Nothing got our blood pumping more than creeping into an enemy compound, sometimes directly into the rooms of enemy fighters while they were sleeping." They killed 17 Taliban that day. When, after nearly 10 years of searching, C.I.A. analysts tracked a man they believed was Bin Laden to a compound in Abbottabad, the SEALs got the call. We all know the outline of the story: No one in the United States government was certain that Bin Laden was in the compound, and President Obama did not trust Pakistan's leaders to ask them for help. So he ordered the SEALs to fly into the country and kill or capture Bin Laden themselves, without anyone's permission, and then get out. It could have ended in disaster - to the SEALs, to Obama's presidency. Even though we know the basics of the story, Bissonnette takes us on a great ride. This is a book of details. And though many of the specifics are left out - like the identities of Bissonnette and his comrades - there are enough here to bring the mission to life. "No Easy Day" amounts to a cinematic account of the raid to kill Bin Laden: you feel as if you're sitting in the Black Hawk as it swoops in, peering through the greenish haze of night-vision goggles, wending up the stairs to Bin Laden's lair. I DON'T want to ruin it for you if you haven't read the book yet, but allow me to toss out a few of the most vivid particulars from Bissonnette's account. First detail: We all know Obama made the call to send the SEALs into Pakistan, and Bissonnette reports that the president's team left very little to chance. While still in the United States, Bissonnette and his fellow SEALs conducted a nighttime dress rehearsal of the raid, on a mock-up of Bin Laden's house, for the president's national security team. As Bissonnette and the other SEALs slid down ropes and stormed the fake house, administration officials like Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood by and watched through night-vision goggles. Second detail: American intelligence officers might not have been absolutely sure that Bin Laden was inside the compound in Abbottabad, but it's amazing to learn how intimate their knowledge was of the place. In the run-up to the raid, Bissonnette asked an intelligence officer about one of the many doors that the commandos would have to breach. The answer came back immediately: The door is metal and opens to the outside. Third detail: It's been widely reported that one of the Black Hawk helicopters carrying the SEALs to Abbottabad malfunctioned and had to be destroyed at the scene. Bissonnette describes just how close the SEALs came to disaster. In the seconds before the raid began, the Black Hawk carrying Bissonnette and others appears to have gotten out of the pilot's control and nearly turned on its side. The pilot righted the copter just as it touched down, catching the tail on the compound's wall. Can you imagine if the Black Hawk had crashed? Fourth: Bissonnette makes it clear that the SEALs needed to be at least open to the possibility of capturing Bin Laden. It's hard to see how this might have happened, given the aggressiveness with which the SEALs operate. In any case, after the first commando shot Bin Laden, he was still alive, writhing on the floor. Many more bullets later, he was dead. Fifth: Bissonnette introduces us to a C.I.A. analyst whom he calls Jen, who had been hunting Bin Laden day and night for five years. When she finally saw his bullet-riddled body on the tarmac, she did not exult - instead, overcome with emotion, she wept. As fun as this book is, by the end it gives off a tacky feel. Bissonnette suggests that he doesn't think much of President Obama, doesn't have much respect for the civilians who ordered the raid and believes, more or less, that anyone in war who doesn't carry a gun is a wimp. He seems to resent the fact that Obama took credit for the raid and at one point even resisted signing a framed flag for him, on the now-preposterous grounds that he didn't want his identity revealed. "Politics are for the Washington, D.C., policy makers who safely watched the action on a video monitor from thousands of miles away." This is the carping of a warrior with little appreciation of what his country actually stands for - like that messy thing called democratic politics. After all, he's just a killing machine. Once Obama made the call to send the SEALs into Pakistan, the presidents team left very little to chance. Dexter Filkins is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is the author of "The Forever War."

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. 9
Prologue: Chalk Onep. 15
Chapter 1 Green Teamp. 27
Chapter 2 Top Five/Bottom Fivep. 45
Chapter 3 The Second Deckp. 64
Chapter 4 Deltap. 78
Chapter 5 Point Manp. 96
Chapter 6 Maersk Alabamap. 116
Chapter 7 The Long Warp. 133
Chapter 8 Goat Trailsp. 154
Chapter 9 Something Special in D.C.p. 180
Chapter 10 The Pacerp. 200
Chapter 11 Killing Timep. 227
Chapter 12 Go Dayp. 249
Chapter 13 Infilp. 269
Chapter 14 Khalidp. 283
Chapter 15 Third Deckp. 293
Chapter 16 Geronimop. 299
Chapter 17 Exfilp. 321
Chapter 18 Confirmationp. 329
Chapter 19 Touch the Magicp. 347
Epiloguep. 363
Confirming Sourcesp. 375
About the Authorsp. 379