3 out of 4 stars
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All Secure: A Special Operations Soldier's Fight to Survive on the Battlefield and the Homefront, written by Command Sergeant Major Tom Satterly and Steve Jackson, is an autobiographical story of Tom’s experiences in the United States Army, especially his time in an elite special forces group known only as the Unit. The Unit is at the pinnacle of special forces groups in the US military. Its soldiers endure gruelling trials just to qualify for membership, then undergo continual, intense training to make sure they remain the very best at what they do. Their missions have included capturing Saddam Hussein, and capturing or killing terrorist leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the graphic and horrifying brutality of combat takes its toll on even the toughest of men. Tom and his fellow soldiers – his friends – all suffer from PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) to varying degrees, leading to suicides, murders, broken marriages, and alienated children. No man returns from war unchanged, but the only ones who seem to understand Tom’s suffering are his fellow soldiers...and they don’t want to talk about it, afraid to appear weak to their commanding officers. This book tells Tom’s brave and personal story of the experiences that almost destroyed him.
All Secure was a powerful book, starting with its strong cover design, featuring a photograph of Tom in front of a bullet-riddled wall and a faded, battle-scarred American flag. The straightforward narrative made it easy to read; I found myself quickly caught up in Tom’s story. The editing overall was very good; there were only around fifteen minor typographical errors in the entire book. The pacing of the story also held my interest, with Tom’s training regime for The Unit detailed in Chapter Four, meaning there wasn't too much introductory preamble for the reader before launching into the meat of the story.
This book was extremely informative about the intense training involved in being a part of the Unit, showing the extreme amounts of practice and conditioning involved. These chapters clearly demonstrated why these men were the very best at what they did in combat situations. Many action-packed missions also featured in the narrative, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, whom Tom met in person in an interrogation room soon after his capture. In addition, All Secure detailed the harrowing effects of war on Tom’s psyche, which manifested themselves in his personal life back home. Tom returned to civilian life angry, bitter, and plagued by nightmares, leading to three failed marriages and an emotional disconnectedness from everyone outside of the Army – even his own son.
Though generally well-edited, this book did have enough minor typographical errors to need one last edit before publication. Aside from occasional missed words or extra words left in by mistake, the authors occasionally used a comma where a semicolon was needed: “It was time to begin, a young woman walked over to the podium...” Were it not for these errors, I would definitely rate this powerful, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching story 4 stars. For now, I must rate it 3 out of 4 stars. Anyone with an interest in soldiers, war, and the terrible effects of combat on those brave men and women who fight daily to safeguard our freedom, would be both entertained and deeply moved by Tom's story.
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