Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review: Trigger Men

Trigger Men: Shadow Team, Spider-Man, the Magnificent Bastards, and the American Combat Sniper (Hardcover)
Author: Hans Halberstadt
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 18, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312354568
ISBN-13: 978-0312354565

Amazon Link

This book was purchased after reading a positive review from a member of the forums. I would post a link to his review, however that site unfortunately will be taken down soon.

Trigger Men is a book about killing people. It contains stories detailing the killing of insurgents mainly in Iraq, by Marine and Army snipers. This book is unapologetic about the subject matter it contains. There are graphic details about what bullets do to humans within this volume's pages. If that is something you are not interested in reading about, this book is not for you.

This book does provide a no bullshit look at modern sniper training, tactics, weapons, and results. A majority of the book is taken directly from the shooter's accounts of events themselves.

Trigger Men was a very quick read for me. I was very interested in the subject matter, of course, but it was also a very accessible and fairly entertaining read. The book contains a mix of first hand accounts, as well as background technical information about modern sniper warfare.

The first chapter is a walk through of sniper mission basics. It covers topics such as moral aspects of the sniper mission, the differences between police and military snipers, and a brief history of the art.

Chapter two is a short chapter based on a USMC sniper's experiences. The third chapter talks about sniper selection and training. The rest of the book primarily deals with individual accounts from the battlefield. There are however sections on ballistics, and sniper weapons.

The flow of the book switching between technical detail and commentary is very good. A lot of the information presented in the documentary chapters is reinforced by the individual accounts. This unfortunately brings up the only thing I did not like about this book. It tends to repeat itself. Many of the snipers tell the same story about a particular weapon for example. This was not overly distracting at all though, and often I was able to glean more details about the particular event or implement from the different viewpoints. Several of the snipers were operating in and around Ramadi, so some of the things they experienced were very similar.

The book does provide a great insight into the sniper's art, as it is being applied in Iraq, that I have not seen elsewhere. It's technical detail, while limited, is a great primer. The stories told by the soldiers and marines were very interesting and really give you a glimpse into their world.

If this subject is interesting to you, I would urge you to purchase and read this one. You won't be disappointed.