Setting the record straight on Navy SEAL Books

Two recent pieces in The Wall Street Journal inspired by Mark Owen’s No Easy Day (Owen West’s and Bing West’s Op-Ed, “Former SEAL Writes a Book; Cue Indignation,” August 30, A13, and Dion Nissenbaum and Siobhan Gorman, “Navy SEAL Memoir Exploits Market,” September 1-2, A3) do a good job in exposing the competing forces of security and entertainment such books put into play.

But the two pieces miss the mark in one important area.  They both mention the movie Act of Valor but make no distinction between the this movie and the plethora of SEAL books on the market from No Easy Day, to Lone Survivor, to American Sniper, to others.  The authors of these Journal pieces lay out the criticism directed at these kinds of books and the potential breaches of security – and professionalism – they involve.  Some of that criticism is valid.

But there is a distinction with a difference – an important difference – between these books and Act of Valor (and the novelization, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor).  Simply put, it is the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  As to co-author (with Dick Couch) of Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor I believe this distinction makes all the difference in the world.

As U.S. Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven noted recently when asked about Navy support for Act of Valor, “The difference between Act of Valor and some other recent publications is that there is a distinct line between recounting a story for education and entertainment and telling a story that exposes sensitive activities just to garner greater readership and personal profit.”

Every frame of Act of Valor and every word of Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor was reviewed by military professionals to ensure nothing sensitive was released to the public in the telling of an entertaining yarn for, in the admiral’s words, “education and entertainment.”  It is important that the world’s most widely read newspaper emphasize this distinctive difference.


George Galdorisi – Coronado, California

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