Running title: Damn Few – Making the Modern SEAL Warrior
Rorke Denver is no stranger to most of us. For those of us that paid our 14 quid to see Act Of Valor, last year, saw him (larger than life) on the silver screen as one of the lead roles. Yes, to those that missed certain clues, I’m afraid that not only did he play a SEAL but it turns out that he IS an actual SEAL. So needless to say as I was going through the stacks and I came across this book, let’s just say that the word “covet” is a pretty generous word for my intentions with this book.
In thumbing through the first pages, the first line of the acknowledgement page caught my eye: “for my wife, my heartbeat”. Noble, humble and honest from the heart, I love this bloke and so I read on.
Mr. Denver has a unique format of storytelling which really makes the reading very spirited and prods the reader onward in eagerness to see what’s waiting on the other page. Each chapter starts with a quote from the likes of Beowulf to Sun Tzu, followed by anecdotes of his experiences and then a full elaboration that ties the two which in turn gives the reader that “aha” followed by a “wow” moment. Seriously, EVERY chapter is like this. Now many SEAL books always write about their training and for the most of us trying to fathom what these brave souls do in their training makes us a bit more appreciative of all they do.
In Damn Few, Mr. Denver invites us on a mental trip through his eyes in three phases: as a trainee, as a warrior and as an instructor.
During the trainee phase, Mr. Denver strips away all the bollocks and gives the reader a serious, no-nonsense tour of the wonderful, exquisite world of BUD/S and Hell Week training. The level and detail in his descriptions were so vivid that it conjured images of aching muscles and joints that at times I could have sworn that I was walking off to my bed with a limp after reading several chapters of this book. It is almost as if Mr. Denver was wearing some sort of futuristic GoPro HD body cam during this training where we could see from his perspective and that camera had a neural interface that was wired into our nervous system. Or maybe I’ve got a really spectacular imagination. During the warrior phase, we share some of Mr. Denver’s wartime experiences. Many triumphant, some heart-wrenchingly saddening that always seems to hit home and make you pause to raid the tissue box. Aye, the Evil Parrot has been known to shed a tear or two. And yes, you didn’t read any of this. In the instructor stage, we are not only introduced to advice that could help those of us going into BUD/S training but it is also premium stuff that pertain to life itself. Regurgitated from any other place or wanks this stuff would either come across as pretentious and the usual pop-psyche bollocks. But hearing it from a bloke that has probably seen scary, hellish scenarios and has survived thus far … and can still hold on to certain aspirations is enough to make most of us to do a bit of introspection and overhaul our attitude to life. In the chapter, Family Time, he writes out some of the most endearing insights that everyone can take and use in their life. And the best part is that you don’t have to be in special ops to appreciate this. Of course, the part about wanting to wear shoes with red soles sort of threw me off (a bit) and for a second, forced me to re-evaluate my sexual orientation, but then I realized I was being such a dafty nutter and his writing was being taken out of context (trust me you’ll see when you READ it … and try to be gentle in your thoughts about me).
Damn Few is a brilliantly written tribute to the humble, noble, valiant and quiet men that do the extraordinary and sometimes the near superhuman tasks for the sake of country and their fellow man. And as stated in the acknowledgement, it is an ever greater tribute to the SEALs other (and very significant) support network: their families. And unless you have the emotional content of a stone, there’s a good chance that you will come away with something from this book whether you were in the military or not. In his writing, Mr. Denver mentions his library containing works of figures such as Sun Tzu, Thucydides, and Ulysses S. Grant. Figures that helped in the developing of his warrior ethos. I wouldn’t be surprised if several centuries, down the line, that Mr. Denver’s Damn Few finds its way in the midst of Tzu and Ambrose in some future warrior’s library.
One magnificent line that I got from the book ( and was also quoted in the Act Of Valor) was from the Native American Shawnee chief Tecumseh: “live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart”.
Thanks Mr. Denver, for your service and your many acts of valour. Should we ever cross paths, pint(s) are on me. God bless you and yours and all their days on this earth.