- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
In the new issue of Marine Corps Gazette, Ed Darack takes apart Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, which purported to be a history of a botched operation in Afghanistan in June 2005. Darack, himself the author of Victory Point, a book about the same operation, does a good job of explaining why he thinks the Luttrell book, which was a bestseller, was off base. Most strikingly, Luttrell stated in his after-action report that his SEAL team was attacked by 20 to 35 fighters, but his book claims that the team faced hundreds. (In fact, Darack adds, video analysis and other intelligence indicates it probably was eight to 10 insurgents.) Darack calls the book “gripping, yet extraordinarily unrealistic.”
Also, another book, Seal of Honor, about the same incident, refers to Marines from “Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne),” a unit which Darack notes actually does not exist.
Unusually, Darack concludes his critique by listing the ranks, names, and positions of 12 Marines he interviewed.