Lone Survivor by Marcus Lattrell reviewed Samuel Justice

Lone Survivor

By Marcus Latrell

From barnesandnoble.com:

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.

This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His squadmates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors.

A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates’ heroism and mutual support renders an experience that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war.

What is a hero? What is sacrifice? I thought I knew what these things were, but really I didn’t.  A real soldiers story is much different than what kids see playing a Call of Duty video game.  In Marcus Latrell’s book Lone Survivor, I came to see what a true warrior goes through during battle.  Set in Afghanistan a few years after the 9-11 attacks, the author retells his epic story of surviving the unthinkable odds, while his brothers-in arms gave the ultimate sacrifice.  I believe Marcus Latrell captured his story through its themes, setting, and vocabulary.

The themes in this book really stood out to me, the most important being, never give in.  Even after falling off cliffs, being shot, blown up, and almost dying of thirst, Marcus Latrell never gave up hope. After being hit by a rocket propelled grenade or RPG, Marcus was knocked unconscious and blown into a deep ravine. Several hours went by before he awoke. Bleeding and unable to move his legs he gathered enough strength to crawl to a safe position.  He realized he was the last in his team of four Navy SEALS alive.  While lying in a crevice in a cliff many thoughts crossed his mind. One of the things that kept him going was he kept repeating Psalms 23:4:  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The other was that he was determined to tell the story of how brave his SEAL team had fought and the sacrifice they made.  The author was able to express this powerfully through his themes.

The setting played a vital role in this book.  America had just gone through its worst terrorist attack and the first attack on its own soil since Pearl Harbor.  The country was gearing up for war and Marcus Latrell had already begun his SEAL training.  The setting varied from his childhood in Texas to the icy waters of Coronado to the unforgiving mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan.  Even as a child he knew what he wanted to do, deciding to be a Navy SEAL at the age of twelve. After being accepted into the program his intense training took him all across the country.  While serving in Afghanistan, along with his team of three others, he was assigned to kill a Taliban warlord.  The team was flown into the steep and rocky mountains of the Hindu Kush where they had to hike to recon the area where the warlord was believed to be.  Marcus described the scenery well and explained the Afghani culture and how they viewed the Americans.  I gained a better understanding of the war on terrorism through the setting of this book.

The author was able to express emotions and thoughts through the use of his vocabulary.  Though it used graphic language it enabled me to better understand the struggles that our military men and women face every day.  I have been wanting to read this book for a while but my father did not want me to because of the use of this language, but now agreed so I would understand that war is not glamorous as one may be lead to believe playing video games.  Marcus achieved the true nature of war through his description and vocabulary.  He was to the point in his descriptions and did not over exaggerate.  I believe he wanted to tell the story exactly how it happened.

In the end, this is one of my favorite books I have ever read.  It was full of action, patriotism, and sacrifice.  I think someone looking for these qualities would enjoy this book.  For someone my age who was just a baby at the time of the 9-11 attacks, this book gives a realistic view of the war on terror and helps  give understanding of those serving in the military during this time.




4 responses

  1. Samuel,

    Great job! This was a fantastic review!

    I loved your hook and the following sentences. I thought it was interesting the way you posed the question of what a hero is and then answered it in an honest way. This paragraph I thought captivated the reader’ attention well!

    Not only was your introduction great, but so were the rest of your paragraphs. I think you did an excellent job explaining the setting, theme and the use of vocabulary in this novel. I could tell throughout your writing that you really enjoyed this book, which was confirmed in your concluding paragraph. I think in your paragraph about the setting, you could elaborate just a touch on the scenery, though I think you did a fine job. However, I think if you add a little more to it, you can really enhance this paragraph. Also, consider using a transition sentence between paragraphs. For example, to think your theme paragraph to your setting, you could start with, “Although the theme was very powerful in this book, the setting…” to help your paragraphs flow from one to another.

    I hope these comments help you in your writing. Like I said, I think you did a fantastic job at explaining this book and I believe you made it very relatable to other readers due to your tone and honesty. Keep up the great work!

  2. This is a really good review, Samuel!

    Your opener was very thought-provoking and honest, and it tied into what you had to say about the book so well. How you felt about the book obviously inspired your thesis, and all of your topic sentences came straight from your 3-pronged thesis, which is great work on your part!

    There are only two things that I would suggest you work on–grammar and transitions. While your grammar is sound, I did still notice a few errors. One or two is not an issue–it happens–but they should not detract from the overall review. Also, while your paragraphs are very good, there isn’t much besides the prongs of the thesis tying them together. This is easy to fix, though; just work a bit on your transitions, and it will be fine!

    Like I said, your review is very good overall. It was interesting, it was thoughtful, and it was honest. I am so glad you liked the book, and I am glad you let it show in the ways you described it! Good job!

  3. Celeste thanks for the advice. One of the problems I have been having is starting my paragraphs and making them flow well.I guess I could never think of a good way to write introductory sentences I will definitely take your advice. Thanks.

  4. Samuel,

    I’m so glad my advice has helped you! When I write transition sentences, there are a couple of things I keep in mind. One thought is to think about how you can transition from paragraph to paragraph based upon the topic. For example, “While I was really intriuged by the setting of the novel, the plot also captivated my attention”. Another thought to keep is mind is how you can use the last sentence of one paragraph and rephrase it to open the following paragraph. For example, let’s look at your second and third paragraph. Perhaps to open your third paragraph you could say something like, “Though the theme of this book was very powerful, the setting also played a vital role”.

    Hope these thoughts helps you with your future writings! Keep up the great work!

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