The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best
(2015) is a work of military nonfiction for young adults by Brandon Webb and Marcus Luttrell. Webb describes how he survived military training to later become the Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program. The book was adapted for a younger audience from Webb’s adult book The Red Circle.
It was nominated for the 2018 Evergreen Teen Book Award. Webb trained Luttrell as a sniper, and Luttrell now ranks as one of the finest snipers in the U.S.The Making of a Navy SEAL
begins with Luttrell explaining what Webb’s training meant to him, and how Webb is directly responsible for saving his life. Luttrell describes facing hundreds of Taliban warriors in the Hindu Kush Mountains in 2005. He was the only member of his recon team to survive the attack. He survived solely because of Webb’s diligent training, and the effort that Webb put into redeveloping the sniper program.
Webb begins by explaining how important special ops forces and recon teams are to modern warfare. While the military used to rely on special ops solely at the end of a mission, or in very particular circumstances, now they are at the cornerstone of front-line fighting. Webb describes terrorism as being the deadliest threat we now face, and how large-scale armies are ineffective against it.The Making of a Navy Seal
is divided into six parts. Each part represents a stage in Webb’s life or a stage in his training. Given the age of the intended audience, Webb explains the different divisions of the military and what distinguishes special ops from everyone else. He describes his training in some detail, including images to enrich the content.
In the first part of The Making of a Navy Seal,
Webb describes how his childhood prepared him for life in the military. As a baby, he causes trouble and explores places he shouldn’t. He overcomes every obstacle, from gated enclosures to packs of wild coyotes. His parents realize that there is something special about him, and they channel his energy into sports and achievements.
Webb grows up determined, confident, and always looking for his next challenge. He is not afraid of hard work or adversity. He admires his father and spends his whole life looking up to him. Webb is motivated to join the military to make his family proud. He first finds out about Navy SEAL opportunities through a friend he lives with one summer—until then, he could never have imagined a life as a Navy SEAL. However, he acknowledges that he couldn’t have survived the training if he didn’t have a special passion for it.
In part two, “Boot Camp Training,” and part three, “Becoming a Navy SEAL,” Webb talks about taking his first step inside the Naval Training Center and committing to life as a trainee. During his childhood, Webb spent countless hours sailing and diving; becoming a Navy SEAL felt natural to him. He describes how grueling the underwater training is and how even he felt like giving up at times. Webb hopes that, if readers take anything away from the book, it is that they should never give up.
Although Webb loves training as a Navy SEAL, his superiors realize he has a chance at sniper school. In part four, “One of America’s Deadliest Snipers,” Webb describes his training, from stealth to taking the perfect shot. He explains how important teamwork is, even for snipers, and how most snipers work in teams. Where there is one sniper, there is most often another.
Most importantly, Webb emphasizes that sniper training isn’t all about marksmanship. Not everyone is cut out to be a sniper. Webb’s superiors recognize that he has a calm temper, leadership qualities, and the ability to think clearly under immense pressure. These abilities are why they select him for sniper training, and why he later makes such an impressive trainer himself.
“Duty Calls,” part five, describes Webb’s deployments once he completes his training. These descriptions are age-appropriate and focus more on the general details than violent or harrowing descriptions. Webb covers his tour in Afghanistan and what it felt like to take his first shot as a trained sniper.
The final part of the book, “Continuing to Protect and Defend,” explores Webb’s role as a sniper trainer. He entirely redesigned and recreated the training programs he once completed; he is now known for producing some of the best-trained snipers America has ever had. He focuses on teaching his trainees how to stay calm under pressure, and how the best target is often not the most obvious one.
In The Making of a Navy SEAL
, Webb explains that the enemy of progress is complacency or comfort. We only improve, and we only grow, if we move outside of our comfort zones. Just as the best snipers are never complacent, the most successful people aren’t afraid to fail. What is important is that we try, even if we fail. Webb hopes that this is a relatable message for younger readers.