I recently read a book that completely shifted my perspective about the Navy SEALs. The book is called Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior by Rorke Denver. Denver is a former director of basic and advanced SEAL training, and this book is about his own experience as a SEAL going through training and conducting missions. The book also includes his stories on the battlefield. I was blown away every single page. I had to put the book down and just imagine the scenarios Denver explains. These men are heroes and warriors, but this book truly cements that. From training to real life circumstances, what the SEALs go through from the very beginning is intense, unbelievable, and just plain hard to imagine. While I didn’t know a whole lot to begin with, this book provided me with insight and knowledge that I never really expected to know.
A few days later, I was excited to see how Denver’s descriptions came to life in the movie, Act of Valor, in which he starred. Not only did he star in the film, but other real life Navy SEALs played the main characters. They aren’t actors pretending to be these real life warriors. They are, in fact, the real life warriors. For that reason alone I recommend watching the movie. While the plot line can’t reveal too much insider secrets or include every single detail about the way the SEALs carry out missions play-by-play, but as Denver notes in his book, the scenes are truer to how they would conduct missions in real life. The SEALs would tell the director and producers if the scene was set-up in an unrealistic way, and they would re-work the scene to make it realistic. Many people took issue to the fact that these SEALs were poor actors, blah blah blah, but I think that’s what makes this movie unique. They shouldn’t be good actors. They should be amazing at what they do as SEALs.
Even though the movie came first, I recommend reading Damn Few before watching Act of Valor. At both you will be amazed, laugh, cry, and walk away with a new-found appreciation for what these SEALs do. The book gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become a SEAL which will give you a different perspective when watching the movie, and the movie captures the fast-paced action of being a SEAL. The words from the book all come to life in front of your eyes on the screen. And it’s pretty damn cool.