Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Philipps uncovers the shocking rise and fall of Eddie Gallagher, the decorated Navy SEAL accused of war crimes during his deployment to Mosul, the fellow SEALs who turned him in, and the court martial that captivated the nation.
... [a] meticulously assembled and brilliantly written account ... Philipps leaves little reason to doubt his conclusion that Gallagher really did plunge that special knife of his twice into the ISIS prisoner’s neck. But he also reveals that the killing was only the culmination of years of indiscipline, recklessness, tactical incompetence and bragging ... There are other distinctly drawn characters too ... the most interesting part of this remarkable and engrossing book examines the SEALs as an institution and as a subculture within the military ... And yet even though he believes that Gallagher and his immediate superiors escaped justice, Philipps comes to a surprisingly upbeat conclusion.
A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller ... How did Vriens get to that point? It's a question I wish the book had spent more time trying to answer. In Philipps’s telling, Gallagher is a soulless master manipulator who goads his men into committing war crimes in a devious effort to prevent them from turning on him. But in portraying Gallagher as a super-criminal Svengali, Philipps risks letting the Navy SEALs and their leadership off the hook ... 'empathy, restraint, and the ability to stay on course in the stormy morality of combat' ... The inescapable conclusion from reading Philipps’s book is that the SEALs lack these critical attributes and that the blame for those shortcomings extends far beyond the moral failings of Eddie Gallagher.
... a serious study of a SEAL unit in crisis as it fought ISIS in Mosul, Iraq ... credible ... This book brims with such striking quotations, mainly because Philipps was able to read a trove of some 6,000 texts written by Gallagher and 2,300 others sent by members of his platoon ... it’s time for the military to take stock of everything that went wrong. That should include making Alpha—one of the most important books to come out of the Iraq War (as I wrote in a blurb for it)—required reading in every service academy.