American Commander: Serving a Country Worth Fighting for and Training the Brave Soldiers Who Lead the Way
By Ryan Zinke and Scott McEwen, read by Daniel Butler
Audiobook, 10 hours and 39 minutes, 10 disks
Release Date November 2016
Published by Thomas Nelson
Ryan Zenke was a Navy SEAL for twenty-three years, rising to the rank of Commander. After leaving the service he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Congressman from Montana. He was later appointed as the Secretary of the Interior in March of 2017.
I often check out audiobooks from the local public library to have something to listen to while driving to model shows or while working at the bench. It’s a good way to make some constructive use of the time and hopefully learn something new. SEAL memoirs are often action packed and offer interesting insights into Special Warfare tactics and operations. This one promised the additional perspective of how military experience could translate into a political career in Washington.
Zinke served in the SEALs from 1986 through 2008, which meant that he had fewer opportunities for combat at the operational level than SEALs who began their service fifteen years later. Most of the book relates to training, exercises, and planning & coordination. Still interesting, but not the firsthand combat stories which are standard fare for the majority of the Special Operations autobiographies. The narrative also jumps around without regard to chronological order or thematic continuity which made the book unnecessarily hard to follow at times. While Zinke does offer commentary on many political issues throughout the book (President Obama was very unpopular among most military Officers who served during his tenure) there is little offered of Zinke’s term as a Congressman nor how his military service prepared him for Washington.
Zinke relates one negative incident from his time on the SEAL Teams, he was found to have committed a small transgression regarding travel funds and was forced to make restitution. He described this as a learning experience in the book. Ironically, he was forced to leave his post as Secretary of the Interior in January 2019 over ethical concerns regarding his travel expenditures.
Not necessarily a bad book, but one which never really grabbed my interest. The jumping from period to period was an unnecessary distraction and did not add to the narrative in any way. Pick it up if you are curious about SEAL training or operational planning and haven’t already read enough accounts of that in other books.