Sean Parnell Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan

Last updated: July 8, 2019

Sean Parnell’s "Outlaw Platoon" is an honest retelling of the author’s own experience during the Afghanistan War. The prose is matter-of-fact and direct and shows the reader what it is like to engage in combat. However, at times, the writing is a bit repetitive.

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Product Details

In our analysis of 30 expert reviews, the Sean Parnell Outlaw Platoon placed 2nd when we looked at the top 7 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

At twenty-four years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon, the 10th Mountain Division—a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws. Tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a valley in the Hindu Kush, Parnell assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians until, in May 2006, a routine patrol turned into a brutal ambush. Through sixteen months of combat, the platoon became Parnell’s family. The cost of battle was high for these men. Not all of them made it home, but for those who did, it was the love and faith they found in one another that ultimately kept them alive.

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked

Parnell's recollection and story-telling is outstanding. I felt as though I was fighting alongside those brave men, immersed in Parnell's world. Letting us inside his head is a rare thing, and I appreciated that.
This honesty about emotional and sensory aspects of combat drives this narrative more than overt commentary on the Afghanistan mission. Well-told combat narrative that raises disturbing questions about America’s professionalized military and the post-9/11 objectives with which they’ve been tasked.
Parnell balances sentimentality with sincerity and crisp prose to produce one of the Afghan war’s most moving combat narratives.
Part of what set the book apart for me was how well Parnell writes about what it is like to engage in combat. His prose, which is always matter-of-fact and to the point, nonetheless manages to convey the confusion of war as well as how adrenaline and fear can inspire feats of tremendous courage or become too much to handle.
One of the aspects which I really appreciated in the book is that the author does not underestimate the enemy. While the propaganda we often hear is about "cave dwelling towel heads," this misinformation is far from the truth. The enemy the Rangers encountered is a disciplined, well equipped, well trained, organized and experienced military force.

What reviewers didn't like

Certain metaphors were amateurish. I'm paraphrasing, I can't remember the exact passage: "the mountain sagged like the face of an old man" But these were few and far between. He did seem a bit sexist "the mail bitch", did any woman feel that way while they were reading "Outlaw Platoon"?
The book’s main flaw is a repetitiveness that becomes mawkish: Points about the soldiers’ personal burdens and the bond of brotherhood in combat are made so often that they become less rather than more effective.
One thing I wondered about the book was what it might offer a reader who is deeply critical of war and the military complex. There were moments of sexism and homophobia (mostly with language or put downs from one soldier to another), for example, that made me uncomfortable as a reader.
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