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Dockery, Kevin. Navy SEALs, a history.

DOCKERY, Kevin. Navy SEALs, a history. Penguin, Berkley. 455p. illus. index, c2003.0-425-19617-8. $14.00. SA

Elite military teams always have a great hold on the popular imagination, and with good reason. Handpicked men are put through agonizing physical training and expert weapons schooling, and then go forth to and perform critical military operations against huge odds. During the early Vietnam years, the US Navy created its own counterpart to these select units. Starting with the famed Underwater Demolition Teams of WW II, the Navy trained its frogmen in all forms of land warfare, and then taught them to parachute into action, anywhere and anytime. The result is the SEALs--an acronym for Sea, Air, and Land--who are capable of carrying out missions in all three elements.

This is Dockery's third book about these triple-threat raiders. Like his previous books, this one is based on a series of extensive oral history interviews carried out by Bud Brutsman. Rather than simply assembling the recollections and letting them speak for themselves, however, Dockery delivers a perceptive narrative that knits them all neatly together. The range of interviewees is impressive, ranging from junior enlisted men to admirals, all of whom have survived their year of excruciating training and their tours of duty with "the Teams."

Although there is plenty of action here, from Grenada to the Gulf to Afghanistan, the book is far more than a collection of war stories. In fact most of these unique warriors are impressed more with the intense bonding and camaraderie among the SEALs than they are with their own military feats. Their insights are impressive indeed, and lift the book well above the conventional action-adventure memoir. Raymond Puffer, Ph.D., Historian, Edwards AFB, Lancaster, CA
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Author:Puffer, Raymond
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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