An Intense Read: 13 Hours

Normally, I’d say contracting an illness is a bad thing, but this time it forced me to lay low, which allowed me plenty of time to read. (There’s a point coming, I promise!) I decided I would read 13 Hours. I’m ashamed to say the first time I heard about it is when I saw the movie trailer in the theater. I’m the kind of person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie. I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t pay close attention to the news. In my opinion, they tend to sensationalize the bad stuff and not give credit or promote the good stuff. Again, just my opinion.

So, after all of that…let’s get to the book. It’s as far from political as you can get. It’s purely told from the point of the operators—the “boots on the ground.” I should give the full title because it is a very apt summary of the book. 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.

Here’s the description:

13 HOURS presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked 13_Hoursthe US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.

13 HOURS sets the record straight on what happened during a night that has been shrouded in mystery and controversy. Written by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, this riveting book takes readers into the action-packed story of heroes who laid their lives on the line for one another, for their countrymen, and for their country.

13 HOURS is a stunning, eye-opening, and intense book–but most importantly, it is the truth. The story of what happened to these men–and what they accomplished–is unforgettable.

My Thoughts:

  • Four (4) Americans died who should still be alive had proper precautions been taken. The State Department Compound should have been properly hardened. Additional security measures should have been taken, especially once chatter indicated Americans could be targeted. I’m not trying to “Monday morning quarterback” what happened, but things could have turned out very differently. Even letting the GSR operators respond immediately and not making them wait to coordinate with 17 February, some of whom probably weren’t very loyal to the Americans they were to be protecting. Had the GSR operators made it to Villa C earlier, the fire might not have been so consuming as to prevent a rescue.
  • Despite all of that, I hope that Americans will realize the sacrifices made and will never forget Ambassador J. Christopher “Krees” Stevens, State Department computer specialist Sean Smith, former Navy SEAL Tyrone “Rone” Woods, and last but definitely not least, former Navy SEAL Glen “Bub” Doherty.
  • I wish the operatives who selflessly defended the Americans in the Compound and Annex could properly be honored. I’m so glad that Mitchell Zuckoff has told their story and told it well. I felt like I was there, feeling the heat of the flames, the stress of waiting for the attack.
  • These operators demonstrated the utmost loyalty. As one reviewer on Goodreads wrote, “These were heroic men of mythic proportion.” They embodied “exceptional valor, selfless devotion to duty and country, and extraordinary courage under fire…” Thank you, Teresa, for putting it so eloquently.
  • This book has given me so much to think about. I admired the bravery of the security operators, how they went above and beyond. These are the men our children should look up to. They are true heroes.
  • Zuckhoff and the Annex Security Team put the reader in the middle of the fight. I found myself hoping and praying for these guys. I found myself crying at the needless deaths. I just wonder if Sean and Chris could have survived had their “panic room” been equipped with some kind of oxygen or SCBA equipment. Again, hindsight is 20/20, but terrorists have used fire before against Americans. They will likely use it again.

I liked Tanto’s thought on page 292:

If it had been any other six guys, I don’t think any of us would have made it. We lost Rone, we lost Bub, and Oz got hurt, but it could have been worse. We all could have been gone. It was like we were meant to be there together. None of these guys had a panic bone in their body.

On page 303, I don’t think the surviving operators need worry:

Above all, the surviving special operators hope that Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, to whom this book is collectively dedicated, will be remembered not as victims or political pawns, but as brave Americans who put themselves in harm’s way, who believed in their work and their country, and who died serving others.

Gentlemen, even though this is a huge understatement, I thank you for your service. I thank you for keeping Americans safe in places most of us will never see except for on the news. May God bless you and your families.

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