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

Last updated date: July 8, 2019

DWYM Score
9.2

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We looked at the top 1 Military Books and dug through the reviews from 5 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Sophisticated Dorkiness, Seattle Pi and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Military Book you should buy.

Overall Take

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. In our analysis of 49 expert reviews, the Sean Parnell Sean Parnell Outlaw Platoon placed 3rd when we looked at the top 11 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 8, 2019:
Checkout The Best Military Book for a detailed review of all the top military books.

Expert Summarized Score
8.4
5 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.6
2,465 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts 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.
- Good Reads
May 27, 2012 | Full review
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.
- Kirkus Reviews
Parnell balances sentimentality with sincerity and crisp prose to produce one of the Afghan war’s most moving combat narratives.
- Publishers Weekly
January 9, 2012 | Full review
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.
- Sophisticated Dorkiness
February 27, 2013 | Full review
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.
- Seattle Pi
March 10, 2013 | Full review
What experts 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"?
- Good Reads
May 27, 2012 | Full review
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.
- Kirkus Reviews
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.
- Sophisticated Dorkiness
February 27, 2013 | Full review

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.

An Overview On Military Books

For those who are interested in learning more about wars, military books provide excitement and intrigue. Military books can cover a range of topics from strategy to technology to heroes. Military warfare is a complex and far-reaching topic, as are the books that cover it.

Non-fiction military books provide the story of real-life events that have taken place. Historical military books cover militaries and wars from long ago, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome or the Chinese Empire. Modern-day non-fiction military books cover wars that have happened more recently, such as World War I and World War II, in addition to the Iraq war and many others. The goal of most non-fiction military books is to provide the reader with a factual account of the role of the military event event the is covering. They may look at both sides involved in the war or focus on just one side. Some non-fiction books follow the life of a particular person who played a pivotal role in the actions of the military.

Fiction military books, on the other hand, cover imaginary events. Those events may be inspired by real-life wars and people, but the narrative is constructed and certain liberties are often taken in terms of what actually happened during the war itself. Fictional military books often have a central hero character who carries the weight of saving the world on their shoulders.

Many military books can be quite graphic when describing the battle. This may include detailed descriptions of injuries and deaths that take place during the fight, so keep this in mind when selecting a military book to read — especially if you are squeamish around blood.

In both non-fiction and fiction military books, the stakes are life and death, so emotion plays a key role. Readers become invested in the fate of certain characters, real or fictional, and it can be heartbreaking when they perish. While the overall plot of military books focuses on the war or the battle, the central characters are what captures the readers’ attention. It is the human element that makes military books so captivating.

DYWM Fun Fact

Recorded military history is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it goes back all the way to 1479  BCE. The first armed battle that was recorded by actual eye-witnesses was the Battle of Megiddo, which was between Thutmose III of Egypt and an alliance under the King of Kadesh. Long before that even, in 2700 BCE, was the first war in history as we know it. The Sumerians and Elamites battled it out together in a legendary war.

While not as old, the United States also has a storied military history. The start of the American military wasn’t with professional soldiers, however. It was civilians that made up local militias in the 1600s, protecting their villages from neighboring European colonies and Native Americans. It wasn’t until 1775 when the Continental Army, the predecessor to the United States Army, was founded.

The Military Book Buying Guide

  • Before selecting a military book to read, it’s important to look at the plot of the book to pick one that resonates with your interests. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a fictional story set during the time of World War II. It follows an Italian teenager as he helps Jews escape over the alps as part of an underground railroad. In the process, he falls in love with an older widow. “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff is a true account of what took place at the Battle of Benghazi on September 11, 2012. It follows the six American security officers as they go beyond the call of duty. Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is the author’s personal account of the bravery of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and their efforts against insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan. “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman is the previously classified true story of the 500 American soldiers that were trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. The story focuses on the men’s perseverance and their incredible never-before-told rescue by Allied Forces.
  • For many readers, the author of each military books plays an important role in the purchasing decision. Certain authors have a particular style of storytelling that readers love, while others bring a unique perspective to the military events taking place in the book. “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” author Mark Sullivan is an award-winning author of over a dozen books, as well as a career investigative journalist. He also writes a bestselling series with world-renowned author James Patterson. On the other hand, Mitchell Zuckoff, author of “13 Hours,” is a professor of journalism and the author of six other non-fiction books. Sean Parnell, author of “Outlaw Platoon,” was a U.S. Army Ranger who was promoted to a commander of a 40-man elite infantry platoon. He writes about his first-hand accounts. Gregory A. Freeman, author of “The Forgotten 500,”  is an award-winning narrative non-fiction author with more than 25 years of journalism experience.
  • The awards a military book has won is an important factor when deciding which one to read. If a book has won critical acclaim or reached the top of the bestseller list, then you know many others have read and enjoyed it. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist for Historical Fiction and a 2017 Goodreads Top 20 Most-Read Book. On the other hand, Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is a New York Times Bestseller.
  • The length of the book may affect whether or not you want to read it. Sometimes, people want a long and detailed book to delve into night after night, whereas other times you want a short and quick read you can get through on a lazy weekend. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” runs over 520 pages, whereas “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff is just over 320 pages. Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” is over 410 pages, while “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman is under 340 pages.
  • For many readers, the price of the military book plays a role in the purchasing decision. Mark Sullivan’s “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff and Sean Parnell’s “Outlaw Platoon” are all available for under $10 in paperback format. On the other hand, “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory A. Freeman costs just under $15 for a paperback version.