Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs

Crown. Aug. 2021. 480p. ISBN 9780593238387. $28.99. BIOG
In June 2018, Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher was arrested on capital charges, accused by members of his own platoon of having brutally murdered a teenage prisoner in Iraq (allegedly an ISIS combatant). Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter Philipps (Wild Horse Country) delves deeply into Gallagher’s 15-year SEAL career, his 2018 court-martial, and SEAL culture. Philipps conducted two dozen interviews and consulted court transcripts, confidential documents, and more to reveal Gallagher’s character and the complexities of his accusers and defenders. Gallagher is depicted as a once-heroic, highly decorated SEAL who saw himself as a pirate and came to believe that killing one’s opponent was the ultimate reward; his subordinates claim that, in addition to killing the teen prisoner, he killed civilians in Mosul. Philipps is at his best when recounting the unraveling of Gallagher’s trial and how the seemingly strong case resulted in an acquittal. He writes that Gallagher was helped by a strong legal team and his wife Andrea, who led a “Free Eddie” campaign on Fox News that caught the attention of another supporter, President Trump. Gallagher resigned from the navy in 2019.
VERDICT This often-gripping narrative will appeal to readers interested in U.S. military courts’ prosecution of war crimes, or the mindsets of combatants in modern warfare.
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