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SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden    by Chuck Pfarrer order for
SEAL Target Geronimo
by Chuck Pfarrer
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Chuck Pfarrer, the author of SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden, is himself a former assault element commander of SEAL Team Six. He also wrote Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy SEAL. He tells the story of Operation Neptune's Spear, the May 2, 2011 attack on bin Laden's family compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, based on conversations with SEAL Team Six Jedi's who participated in the raid. Osama bin Laden (code name Geronimo) was shot during the attack.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook (8 CDs, 10 hours), narrated clearly and calmly by Erik Bergmann, and found it totally fascinating. Operation Neptune's Spear itself proceeded quickly, smoothly - aside from a malfunctioning helicopter and an explosion of chickens - and with few shots fired. But it only occupies part of the book. Pfarrer also gives readers/listeners a thorough briefing on SEAL history, training, and previous key operations, as well as different US agencies' response to the terrorist threat, and the evolution of bin Laden's role from a Saudi millionaire/wannabe Afghan jihadi to a major terrorist leader and funder, the object of an intense, decade-long manhunt.

Pfarrer is consistently negative about the CIA's role in counter-terrorism, pre- and post-9/11, and explains why. He speculates that Ayman al-Zawahiri deliberately betrayed bin Laden by using a courier he knew was blown to communicate with him, and gives cogent supporting analyis. He also cites WikiLeaks documents indicating that many of Iraq's WMDs, chemical weapons in particular, were used against the U.S. military. Though the continuing possibility of these weapons in the hands of terrorists is very disturbing, one wonders why this would be kept quiet by the U.S. government and press.

That aside, I found SEAL Target Geronimo well researched, well organized and a gripping account that left me very impressed by the courage, competence, and training of the men on the ground. Highly recommended.

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