Synopses & Reviews
“Never shall I fail my comrades. . . . I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.”
—from the Ranger Creed
In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeople crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting the townspeople and listening to their views. That trip was typical of McChrystal’s entire career, from his first day as a West Point plebe to his last day as a four-star general. The values he has come to be widely admired for were evident: a hunger to know the truth on the ground, the courage to find it, and the humility to listen to those around him. Even as a senior commander, McChrystal stationed himself forward, and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand. In this illuminating memoir, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career. He delves candidly into the intersection of history, leadership, and his own experience to produce a book of enduring value. Joining the troubled post-Vietnam army as a young officer, McChrystal witnessed and participated in some of our military’s most difficult struggles. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. He paints a vivid portrait of the traditional military establishment that turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror. McChrystal spent much of his early career in the world of special operations, at a time when these elite forces became increasingly effective—and necessary. He writes of a fight waged in the shadows by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which he led from 2003 to 2008. JSOC became one of our most effective counterterrorism weapons, facing off against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Over time, JSOC gathered staggering amounts of intelligence in order to find and remove the most influential and dangerous terrorists, including the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hunt for Zarqawi drives some of the most gripping scenes in this book, as McChrystal’s team grappled with tricky interrogations, advanced but scarce technology, weeks of unbroken surveillance, and agonizing decisions. McChrystal brought the same energy to the war in Afghanistan, where the challenges loomed even larger. His revealing account draws on his close relationships with Afghan leaders, giving readers a unique window into the war and the country. Ultimately, My Share of the Task
is about much more than war and peace, terrorism and counterinsurgency. As McChrystal writes, “More by luck than design, I’d been a part of some events, organizations, and efforts that will loom large in history, and more that will not. I saw selfless commitment, petty politics, unspeakable cruelty, and quiet courage in places and quantities that I’d never have imagined. But what I will remember most are the leaders.”
"This harrowing, minute-by-minute account by one of the highly trained members of Navy SEAL Team Six is narrative nonfiction at its most gripping, taking the reader through the mountains of Afghanistan and inside the slightly dilapidated-looking family compound in Pakistan." - Entertainment Weekly
“The bin Laden story is the marquee event in No Easy Day, of course. But the formative steps in the authors own story are just as gripping. Mr. Owens new information about the Abbottobad attacks adds a human element to much of what has been previously reported. There is no better illustration in No Easy Day that SEALs are ruthless pragmatists. They think fast. They adapt to whatever faces them. They do what they have to do.” -Janet Maslin, New York Times
“The book is a stomach-twisting close-up look at that historic mission in Abbottabad, told from the point of view of a super-elite member of SEAL Team Six who fired a bullet into bin Laden and helped carry away the corpse. Written in clean, polished prose... No Easy Day often reads like a gripping novel as the author recounts remarkably vivid details... No Easy Day puts you right there for every tense moment.” -Entertainment Weekly
" ...A cast of characters, including Owen himself, artfully drawn, yet painfully human, passionate descriptions of a lifestyle that few are privy to, as well as its breathlessly paced, inexorable march toward an inevitable ending…it's a remarkably intimate glimpse into what motivates men striving to join an elite fighting force like the SEALS — and what keeps them there.” -Associated Press
“Make no mistake: No Easy Day is an important historic document. Think if we had a first-person account of the last minutes of Hitler in his bunker. No Easy Day is brisk and compelling in its telling of the training, execution and immediate aftermath of the Bin Laden mission by the elite Seal Team Six.” -Los Angeles Times
“[Mark Owen] has given us a brave retelling of one of the most important events in U.S. military history.” -People Magazine
“The writing is fast-paced, and Owen and Maurer tell some good yarns in a conversational style. They also neatly capture the camaraderie, the pranks, the constant training and the evident love that the men of SEAL Team 6 have for their jobs." -Washington Post
The New York Times:
and#8220;Superband#8230;the best account yet.and#8221;
and#8220;[An] indispensable CIA history.and#8221;
The Hindu (India):
Dexter Filkins, author ofand#160;The Forever War:
"The story of how the CIA got back into the killing business is as chilling and dramatic as a spy novel--except itand#8217;s true. Mark Mazzetti has laid out an extraordinary tale, tracking the spies as they track the terrorists. The Way of the Knife is as close as you'll ever get to the real thing."
Jane Mayer, staff writer,and#160;The New Yorker; author ofand#160;The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals:
"The Way of the Knife provides a stunning, inside account of the CIA's transformation after 9/11 from an intelligence agency into a global clandestine killing machine. Mazzetti, who is one of America's best national security reporters, has written a frightening, must-read book."
Thomas E. Ricks, author ofand#160;Fiascoand#160;andand#160;The Generals:
"The United States fought three wars after 9/11: Iraq, Afghanistan and the one in the shadows. This is an authoritative account of that that third war, conducted by the CIA and military Special Operators in Yemen, East Africa and, most of all, Pakistan. If you want to understand the world we live in, you need to read it."
and#8220;The definitive history of how the intelligence agency became something much more like a paramilitary wingand#8212;de-evolving, in a sense, back to the days when the agency's adventurism influenced foreign policy around the world. It's a fascinating expose of what information the U.S. was not collectingand#8212;and how an attempt to fill the gap fell through oversight mechanisms and complicated geopolitics in Pakistan.and#8221;
San Francisco Chronicle:
and#8220;A highly engaging account that should please the curious and experts alike. Mazzetti manages to give a fresh reading to such oft-told stories as the bureaucratic jousting among White House, CIA and Pentagon officials over killer drones, secret prisons, and#8216;harsh interrogationsand#8217; and going global with military assassins.and#8221;
and#8220;The new American way of war is here, but the debate about it has only just begun. In The Way of the Knife, Mr Mazzetti has made a valuable contribution to it.and#8221;
The New Republic:
and#8220;Essential background readingand#8230; there are many signs that the novel and#8216;military-intelligence complexand#8217; that Mazzetti describes is becoming unacceptably controversial at home and abroad.and#8221;
"Mazzetti's is an assiduously compiled account that strings together some of the missing parts in the puzzleand#8230; The Way of the Knife is a tale full of intrigues."
The New York Times Book Review:
and#8220;A fascinating, trenchant, sometimes tragicomic account.and#8221;
The Age (Australia):
"An astounding tale that melds the immediacy of fiction with the authority of fact."
The Washington Post:
and#8220;[A] deeply reported and crisply written accountand#8230; While The Way of the Knife recounts the important shifts in the architecture of the U.S. military and intelligence communities, it also reveals the many eccentric characters who emerged during this.and#8221;
Los Angeles Times:
and#8220;Mazzetti finds new details and tracks the ominous blurring of traditional roles between soldiers and spies, the lush growth of a military-intelligence complex, and what the shift portends for the future....a valuable addition to a canon that is exposing America's use of lethal operations far from declared war zones."
and#8220;[A] fine accountand#8230; Mazzetti describes in compelling detail the agencyand#8217;s turf battles with the Pentagon, its awkward relations with its Pakistani counterpart, and its reliance on a motley collection of freelancers and private contractors.and#8221;
and#8220;Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzettiand#8217;s The Way of the Knife makes for an incisive guide to what he terms the 'shadow war' being waged in multiple countries around the world, away from prying eyes....[W]ith crisp, precision reporting, Mazzetti lays out a chronology of how one thing led to another after al-Qaedaand#8217;s asymmetric attacks in 2001 and the ruinously bloody and inconclusive invasions that followed exposed glaring weaknesses in both the American military and its intelligence services.and#8221;
and#8220;A well-reported, smoothly written book for anyone who wants to understand contemporary American military might and the widespread hatred for the U.S. that has been the result.and#8221;
“General McChrystal is a legendary warrior with a fine eye for enduring lessons about leadership, courage, and consequence. He took me inside the command bunker, on nighttime raids, and through the fog of war, political and military. My Share of the Task is an important, riveting, and instructive account of the triumphs and trials of America’s two longest wars.”—TOM BROKAW, author of The Greatest Generation “Written in the tradition of Ulysses S. Grant, My Share of the Task is a clear, compelling, self-critical, and utterly unpretentious memoir. I know of no better book on the nature of modern military command.”—JOHN LEWIS GADDIS, author of George F. Kennan: An American Life “This is a brilliant book about leadership wrapped inside a fascinating personal narrative. By describing his own life, and especially his command in Afghanistan, General McChrystal helps us understand the modern missions of the military. More than that, he provides lessons about leadership and values that are indispensable in our daily lives. It’s a deeply inspiring tale.”—WALTER ISAACSON, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin “Stanley McChrystal has written the finest military memoir of his generation. Lucid, thoughtful, and steeped in military and strategic history, My Share of the Task is not just the story of one man’s service; it is the story of the development of a new way of war. This book is not just for aficionados of military history or for students of American foreign policy; it’s for anyone who wants to understand the challenges of leadership in America today.”—WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, author of Special Providence and God and Gold “A remarkable memoir by one of the most exceptional and thoughtful leaders of his generation.”—RORY STEWART, author of The Places in Between
The first-ever inside look at the US militaryand#8217;s secretive Remotely Piloted Aircraft programand#151;equal parts techno-thriller, historical account, and war memoir
Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), commonly referred to by the media as drones, are a mysterious and headline-making tool in the militaryand#8217;s counterterrorism arsenal. Their story has been pieced together by technology reporters, major newspapers, and on-the-ground accounts from the Middle East, but it has never been fully told by an insider.
In Hunter Killer, Air Force Lt. Col. T. Mark McCurley provides an unprecedented look at the aviators and aircraft that forever changed modern warfare. This is the first account by an RPA pilot, told from his unique-in-history vantage point supporting and executing Tier One counterterrorism missions. Only a handful of people know what itand#8217;s like to hunt terrorists from the sky, watching through the electronic eye of aircraft that can stay aloft for a day at a time, waiting to deploy their cutting-edge technology to neutralize threats to Americaand#8217;s national security.
Hunter Killer is the counterpoint to the stories from the battlefront told in books like No Easy Day and American Sniper: While special operators such as SEALs and Delta Force have received a lot of attention in recent years, no book has ever told the story of the unmanned air war. Until now.
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 moment
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 Ladens 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 Owens life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Ladens death, is an essential piece of modern history.
In No Easy Day, Owen also takes readers onto the field of battle in Americas ongoing War on Terror and details the selection and training process for one of the most elite units in the military. Owens 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.
And look for NO HERO, the follow-up to NO EASY DAY, coming May 2014.
A Pulitzer Prizeand#150;winning reporterand#8217;s riveting account of the transformation of the CIA and Americaand#8217;s special operations forces into man-hunting and killing machines in the worldand#8217;s dark spaces: the new American way of war
The most momentous change in American warfare over the past decade has taken place away from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the corners of the world where large armies canand#8217;t go. The Way of the Knife is the untold story of that shadow war: a campaign that has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies and lowered the bar for waging war across the globe. America has pursued its enemies with killer drones and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, untrustworthy foreign intelligence services, and proxy armies.
This new approach to war has been embraced by Washington as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to the messy wars of occupation and has been championed as a clean and surgical way of conflict. But the knife has created enemies just as it has killed them. It has fomented resentments among allies, fueled instability, and created new weapons unbound by the normal rules of accountability during wartime.
Mark Mazzetti tracks an astonishing cast of characters on the ground in the shadow war, from a CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played to the chain-smoking Pentagon official running an off-the-books spy operation, from a Virginia socialite whom the Pentagon hired to gather intelligence about militants in Somalia to a CIA contractor imprisoned in Lahore after going off the leash.
At the heart of the book is the story of two proud and rival entities, the CIA and the American military, elbowing each other for supremacy. Sometimes, as with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, their efforts have been perfectly coordinated. Other times, including the failed operations disclosed here for the first time, they have not. For better or worse, their struggles will define American national security in the years to come.
A military expert reveals how science fiction is fast becoming reality on the battlefield, changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself
P. W. Singer?s previous two books foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers? predictions that proved all too accurate. Now, he explores the greatest revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb?the advent of robotic warfare.
We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I,Robot and the Terminator all too real. More than seven- thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart?and how lethal?to make their current robotic prototypes. And many of the most renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation.
Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home. Moving humans off the battlefield makes wars easier to start, but more complex to fight. Replacing men with machines may save some lives, but will lower the morale and psychological barriers to killing. The ?warrior ethos,? which has long defined soldiers? identity, will erode, as will the laws of war that have governed military conflict for generations.
Paradoxically, these new technologies will also bring war to our doorstep. As other nations and even terrorist organizations start to build or buy their own robotic weapons, the robot revolution could undermine America?s military preeminence. While his analysis is unnerving, there?s an irresistible gee-whiz quality to the innovations Singer uncovers. Wired for War travels from Iraq to see these robots in combat to the latter-day ?skunk works? in America?s suburbia, where tomorrow?s technologies of war are quietly being designed. In Singer?s hands, the future of war is as fascinating as it is frightening.
"riveting and comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of the rise of military robotics." --Financial Times
In Wired for War, P. W. Singer explores the greatand#173;est revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb: the dawn of robotic warfare. We are on the cusp of a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make real the stuff of I, Robot and The Terminator. Blending historical evidence with interviews of an amazand#173;ing cast of characters, Singer shows how technology is changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and the ethics that surround war itself. Traveling from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to modern-day "skunk works" in the midst of suburbia, Wired for War will tantalize a wide readership, from military buffs to policy wonks to gearheads.
About the Author
retired in July 2010 as a four-star general in the U.S. Army. His last assignment was as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He had previously served as the director of the Joint Staff and as the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the cofounder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm. He and his wife of thirty-five years, Annie, live in Virginia. Visit mcchrystalgroup.com/myshare
Table of Contents
Wired For War Author's Note: Why a Book on Robots and War?
Part One: The Change We Are Creating
1. Introduction: Scenes from a Robot War
2. Smart Bombs, Norma Jeane, and Defecating Ducks: A Short History of Robotics
3. Robotics for Dummies
4. To Infinity and Beyond: The Power of Exponential Trends
5. Coming Soon to a Battlefield Near You: The Next Wave of Warbots
6. Always in the Loop? The Arming and Autonomy of Robots
7. Robotic Gods: Our Machine Creators
8. What Inspires Them: Science Fiction's Impact on Science Reality
9. The Refuseniks: The Roboticists Who Just Say No
Part Two: What Change Is Creating For Us
10. The Big Cebrowski and the Real RMA: Thinking About Revolutionary Technologies
11. "Advanced" Warfare: How We Might Fight with Robots
12. Robots That Don't Like Apple Pi: How the U.S. Could Lose the Unmanned Revolution
13. Open-Source Warfare: College Kids, Terrorists, and Other New Users of Robots at War
14. Losers and Luddites: The Changing Battlefields Robots Will Fight On and the New Electronic Sparks of War
15. The Psychology of Warbots
16. YouTube War: The Public and Its Unmanned Wars
17. Changing the Experience of War and the Warrior
18. Command and Control . . . Alt-Delete: New Technologies and Their Effect on Leadership
19. Who Let You in the War? Technology and the New Demographics of Conflict
20. Digitizing the Laws of War and Other Issues of (Un)Human Rights
21. A Robot Revolt? Talking About Robot Ethics
22. Conclusion: The Duality of Robots and Humans