Academic journal article Military Review

First Seals: The Untold Story of the Forging of Americas Most Elite Unit

Academic journal article Military Review

First Seals: The Untold Story of the Forging of Americas Most Elite Unit

Article excerpt

FIRST SEALS: The Untold Story of the Forging of Americas Most Elite Unit Patrick K. O'Donnell, Da Capo Press, Boston, 2014, 320 pages

Over the past decade, Patrick O'Donnell has

firmly established himself as one of the world's preeminent military historians. It is a reputation developed by many factors, but two stand out for me. First, O'Donnell selects subjects that have received little or no prior scholarship, or he puts a different perspective on these subjects. Second, he is incredibly gifted in transforming his exhaustive research into a highly readable narrative. In the author's latest volume, First SEALs, both of these factors are evident.

Within First SEALs, O'Donnell details the origins of the Navy SEALs and those men who figured so prominently in its beginning.

He addresses the significant planning that led to the creation of the Maritime Unit--the eventual SEALs--and the subsequent training the unit conducted in preparation for entering World War II in November 1943. This discussion sets the conditions for O'Donnell to highlight the extraordinary missions the Maritime Unit was involved in during the closing period of the war and the years prior to the activation of SEAL Teams One and Two in January 1962.

Certainly, the origin of the unit is a critical component of the volume, but the true focus of First SEALs is on those who formed the unit and those who served with it. In particular, O'Donnell emphasizes the service of Jack Taylor and the significant role Taylor had in the formation of the Maritime Unit. …

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