Thursday, October 03, 2013

Review of "Eleven Days" by Lea Carpenter - A Look Into Naval Special Warfare Through the Eyes of a SEAL Team Mother

Since the much-publicized capture of Osama Bin-Laden by SEAL Team Six, Naval Special Warfare has been much in the news and casual conversation.  Those of us on the outside looking in think we have some idea of who these super-warriors are and what they do, but we only know the smallest tip of the iceberg.  In her moving novel, "Eleven Days," Lea Carpenter allows us to look a little more deeply into the heart of that iceberg.

The story is told through the eyes - and heart - of a single mother whose warrior son has gone missing on a mission for the SEAL Team that he belongs to.  As the story unfolds with flashbacks, we get a sense of Jason's thoughts and feelings as he goes through the arduous training that all members of NSW go through, beginning with the well-know BUDS/S in Coronado, California.  In parallel, we learn of the "training" that the mother undergoes, learning what questions to ask and which ones not to ask, how to deal with the daily dread of getting "that phone call" or "that knock on the door."

A few months ago, I reviewed a remarkable book by Ben Fountain, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."  (See link below)

Fountain has this to say about "Eleven Days":

"What Dennis Johnson did for the Vietnam War in 'Tree of Smoke,' Lea Carpenter does for Iraq and Afghanistan in her superb 'Eleven Days.'  She drills deeply into the culture and lore of special operations warfare, and just as deeply into the minds of the people - the military-intellectual complex, if you will - who ultimately determine the American way of making war.  But at the core of this extraordinary novel is the love of a mother for her child."

This is a story well worth reading as it allows us to add one more piece of the complex puzzle of understanding the warriors who protect us and those they leave behind as they serve.



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