Fearless – Eric Blehm

IMG_3726Review (Amazon): 

Fearless takes you deep into SEAL Team SIX, straight to the heart of one of its most legendary operators.
 
“As a rule, we don’t endorse books or movies or anything regarding the command where I work—and Adam Brown worked—but as the author writes in Fearless, ‘you have to know the rules, so you know when to bend or break them.’ This is one of those times.  Read this book. Period. It succeeds where all the others have failed.”  –Anonymous SEAL Team SIX Operator

When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hind Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready. In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.”

Fearless is the story of a man of extremes, whose courage and determination were fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses, including drug addiction, and persevered to reach the top tier of the U.S. military. In a deeply personal and absorbing chronicle, Fearless reveals a glimpse inside the SEAL Team SIX brotherhood, and presents an indelible portrait of a highly trained warrior whose final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.

Adam Brown was a devoted man who was an unlikely hero but a true warrior, described by all who knew him as…fearless.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: intense

This isn’t my sort of book, but as far as books like this go, this one is really good. The story is about Adam Brown, a specific member of SEAL Team SIX (the team who killed Osama bin Laden if you’ve been living in a hole for a few years). Instead of it being a general story about the team themselves though, the book focuses specifically on Adam, starting with his family background and childhood.

Adam grew up in a hardworking lower class family who stemmed from Arkansas. Growing up though, the family moved around all over the place looking for work until finally when Adam, his twin sister Manda and his older brother Shawn were in late middle school/early high school, his parents decided it was time to settle down back in Arkansas.

Adam was (as the book is titled) fearless. Not just for stunts like jumping off a bridge from a moving car, but also standing up for the little guy against the biggest bullies. Adam was loved by everyone, but when he graduated and went to college, he no longer had the same friend group to rely upon. Like many stories progress, he fell in with the wrong crowd and eventually became addicted to crack.

He was in a free fall for many years, stealing from his friends and family to pay for his addiction. He knew he had a problem, but he couldn’t seem to fix it no matter how hard he tried. He stayed with a high school friend who had always been such a good influence but eventually the disappearances, theft and nightly worries of whether Adam would be found dead got the best of him too. With Adam’s family’s help, they filed a police report, and then tracked Adam down and turned him into the police. This time his family did not bail him out and let him serve his sentence. Upon release, they signed him up (and paid for) a rehab program for him which was religious focused. His parents had found (re-found) Jesus while trying to deal with Adam’s struggles and felt like it would be the best thing for him too. It seemed to work, and when he returned, he started dating Kelley, a girl who had re-found Jesus after a (not quite as rock bottom as Adam’s) period of time. Despite being told not to, she continued to date him and help him through relapse after relapse.

Eventually he ran off to Jeff’s (a high school friend) house, but Jeff wasn’t going to put up with his shenanigans either. He suggested that Adam join the Navy, and Adam remembered this Navy SEAL movie he had seen in high school which prompted the dive off the bridge from a moving car. Suddenly he once again had a goal. He returned to Kelley and married her at the justice of the peace. When Adam went to the recruiting office, he was forthcoming about his arrests and jail time. Luckily Jeff’s dad was also a Navy captain, and when called agreed that Adam would be a great choice for the Navy. Adam and Kelley  had three weeks before they moved for his basic training.

The rest of the book focuses on his time in the Navy. With God, his family (he and Kelley have two children), and his unquenchable optimism, he manages to move up the ranks to eventually join the elite DEVGRU group even after losing his dominant eye as well as full use of his dominant hand, forcing him to have to learn to shoot with his non-dominant side. He was never one to be told no, and he did whatever it took to get there.

Unfortunately, in the end, the war got the best of Adam. He was shot and killed by insurgents, but his legend was far from over. He was the man who prayed for the little guys. He was the one who organized a shoe drive for Afghan children who were wearing flip flops in the winter. He really epitomized the best things about the Christian religion showing Afghani civilians the good side of Christianity. It is very possible that those “little things” will one day make a big difference in the culture of the world.

Verdict: 3.5 Stars

In fairness, this book probably is worth more than that, but like I said, it’s just not really my sort of book. I don’t like books about war, and it is a little hard for me to read about someone who is that passionate about war. On the other hand though, there are a lot of motivational lessons in this book. Being a good person goes a really long way in influencing those around you. Having a positive attitude and never giving up (although I personally thought that there were times that Adam should have given up for his own health and family but that’s not my judgment to make) also goes really far in motivating the people around you. Both good things to think about in my (and your) own life.

 

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Filed under 3.5 stars, Book Club, Book Review

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