14 January 2021

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team

This is another of Scott's books, surprise, surprise. I don't think he owns anymore military books that have been adapted into movies I enjoy so I'm pretty sure we're done with this phase of my life, and we did not end on a high note. This year I read American Sniper, Lone Survivor, and now 13 Hours and even though some people would argue they aren't meant to be compared- this was the worst one.

13 Hours is the story of the American consulate in Libya that was attacked on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. I really didn't know a lot about it, even though I'd seen the movie... I still don't really know a lot about it. I know there was a massive political ripple about the way the event was handled in Washington, a lot of which became the main criticism of Hilary Clinton during her 2016 Presidential Campaign, because she was Secretary of State under Obama at the time of this attack. 

I felt so disconnected from this book and bored by it that I really should have stopped reading. I think the main issue is that it's written in third person by someone who wasn't really there (this is why I usually hate biographies). No criticism against Zuckoff's writing and I know he wrote it in major collaboration with the security team that was there, but the third person narration just killed the whole vibe for me.

four members of the Annex Security Team - Zuckoff mentions that the team is still very close which I love hearing

This book was also completely void of personal details. This could be a product of the third person narration or perhaps something completely unrelated. I'm not naive enough to think I'm the target audience for these types of stories and perhaps the target audience would prefer this style over the romance that was weaved into American Sniper, but I did not. I didn't know anything about any of the characters that made me care about them and it made it hard to even keep names straight, especially in a book where most of the characters are just running around doing the same stuff. 

I kept reading because I was interested to know what the issues were with the political handling of the day but you never really get to learn. Zuckoff maintains completely neutral throughout. He talks about what did happen in Washington but never mentions what he feels should have happened, or what the other options could have been. I can infer them myself as a reader of course but I have limited knowledge of politics, warfare, Libyan relations, etc. and am just completely speculating. 

Around the same time as the second Compound attack began... the unarmed US drone arrived over the city. It immediately began sending live video back to Washington and Tripoli so policymakers could watch grainy overhead images of the battle as it happened."

I know I've been pretty hard on this book but I really didn't like it. The movie felt the same- hard to tell people apart, hard to know what was going on, etc. I do love John Krasinski though and we have the film adaptation to thank for all the Jim & Roy "They've got Pam" memes that were floating around all those years ago, I'll find one to put below.

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