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The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corp and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen by Brandon Webb

January 25, 2015

The-Red-Circle-Cover

I was expecting I would like this book much more than I did. It is the memoir of a Navy SEAL sniper who revamped the sniper training program and over the years trained some of the best snipers in history.

There are parts of Webb’s story that I really enjoyed. He had an interesting upbringing. At the age of 16, his father tossed him off the family boat during a vacation sail in the South Pacific and Webb had to fend for himself. He was an experienced sailor, navigator, diver and spear fisherman while still a teenager. He was, in short, a perfect candidate for SEALs.

Webb recounts his training for SEALs (BUD/S). It’s a topic covered in other books on the SEALs, but one I always find interesting. Anyone who makes it through the training has a special kind of grit. He then discusses the sniper training. I particularly enjoyed learning about all the factors that go into taking a successful shot. The patience and discipline it takes to “stalk” into position, then the dozens of calculations that must be made to account for all kinds of factors, from muzzle velocity to wind and other environmental factors. He then goes into some of his missions and his eventual selection to revamp the sniper training program.

Webb is a stud, no doubt about that. But I found his cockiness off-putting. He seems to take particular pride in pointing out when he was right, often naming fellow SEALs and trainers he’d disagreed with. It seems a little petty, and not in the spirit of the organization.

The writing is not great, often redundant. And the book would have benefitted from more focus. I would have enjoyed more depth into any number of topics. The psychology of a sniper, the history of snipers, even teaching strategies. But all of these things are covered superficially. It’s a decent story, but it didn’t live up to my high expectations based on the praise it’s received.

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