The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers
By Nicholas Irving with Gary Brozek
Read by Jeff Gurner
Published by Macmillan Audio, January 2015
Length: 7 hours 40 minutes
Nicholas Irving was a sniper with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, in this book he describes his experiences during a single deployment to Afghanistan. On a typical operation, the Rangers would be assigned a specific objective such as capturing a Taliban operative, then inserting into the area at night. Sgt. Irving’s role as a sniper was to provide overwatch to the assault team, supplying information and eliminating threats. He was credited with thirty-three confirmed kills, which he modestly attributes to being in the right place at the right time.
Two incidents stand out from the rest of the narrative. One is a stand-off with a Taliban sniper known as “The Chechen”, a veteran with years of experience fighting in Afghanistan. Irving vividly describes the terror and frustration of being on the receiving end of a sniper’s attentions, the paradox of the role reversal is not lost on him. The other incident occurred on a raid when he suddenly realized his teammate and fellow sniper was not following behind him in the dark and no one had seen him go missing. I won’t reveal the details (read the book), suffice to say movement in the dark can be hazardous in and of itself, and loyalty to a teammate and dedication to completing mission objectives can conflict.
There are many sniper books and many Special Operations books which have come out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the only one I have read (or in this case listened to) which was written by a Ranger. There are some differences in the way Rangers deploy and conduct operations, but much in this book will be familiar to readers of previous accounts. I enjoyed this book, recommended.