by Robert O’Neill
In his New York Times bestseller The Operator, Robert O’Neill begins by briefly describing his childhood in his hometown of Butte, Montana. He quickly moves on to his impulsive decision to join the SEALs and the grueling months of intense training required to qualify. During his sixteen and a half years as a SEAL, there were periods of time where each night he and his team would record multiple enemy kills. O’Neill completed over four hundred missions as a SEAL Team Operator, including the rescues of “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell and Captain Richard Phillips – who was captured by Somali pirates – and the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
O’Neill has a very informal writing style; it is as if he were talking to the reader directly rather than writing a book. As a result, the whole book takes on a sincere tone. O’Neill isn’t trying to brag about his achievements or make himself the center of the story. Instead, he often praises SEALs’ ability to work together and emphasizes teamwork as a vital element to the success of their missions. The only downside of O’Neill’s writing style is that he uses a good deal of profanity – as if he were talking.
The Operator is fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing. I was always eager to turn the page and discover O’Neill’s next mission or the next curve ball the training instructors would throw at the trainees. I also found this book to be very informative about the life of a SEAL, the unique relationship between SEALs, and especially the training one must undergo in order to become a SEAL in the first place. This gave me a better appreciation of the amount of motivation and grit these operators must have.
O’Neill’s sense of humor lightens up the whole book. He often takes a serious situation and offers an alternate way to look at it that leaves the reader smiling inwardly. At times he can be a bit profane, but most of the time I appreciated his humor.
I would recommend this book for young adults and older readers, with some reservations regarding the frequent use of profanities. The Operator is at once an exciting and amusing read, and at times will have you on the edge of your seat. Not only is it highly entertaining, but it also offers first-hand knowledge about the lives of men in one of the most highly trained U.S. military units and the hard decisions they must make every day.