13 HOURS Reviewed
Book Author: Mitch Zuckoff
Studio: Paramount, Publisher: Hachette Books
Movie Date released: January 15th 2016
13 Hours is a riveting movie and book. What makes it special is the discussion by the six American heroes about the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2012. As with most incidents the names are forgotten, but with these accounts people are able to put a humanistic touch on the terrorist attack of Americans. Viewers and readers feel a part of the action, fighting alongside these operators who laid their lives on the line for one another, and for their country. As one of the men described, “Benghazi is essentially a 21st Century Alamo.”
This is the story of an Islamic terrorist attack on the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. Four Americans were killed: U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen “Bub” Doherty, and Tyrone “Rone” Woods. The five operators who provided the account were John “Tig” Tiegen, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, Mark “Oz” Geist, and two others who are known by the pseudonyms Dave “D.B” Benton and Jack Silva. Both the book and the movie tell the story of true heroism in the face of unbeatable odds. Even knowing how it ends, people find themselves rooting for the heroes and holding out hope they all survive. The account seems incredible and reads like a Nelson DeMille or Vince Flynn novel with good guys, bad guys, incompetent guys, sleazy government officials, and action packed scenarios.
Mitch Zuckoff, the author, describes the men as “John Wayne heroes. They did not seek aggrandizement or medals and threw themselves in harms way in order to save American lives. I hoped to show that this is a historical record of what happened, what they did, and what they saw during the Battle of Benghazi. After speaking with them I realized what genuine decent guys they are. I felt it was part of my responsibility to write this book.”
The book and film are extremely informative and people will learn the truth about certain facts surrounding Benghazi. Questions were answered either subtly or directly regarding the attacks being pre-mediated versus spontaneous, if those in charge were unprepared, was a “stand down order” given, and what happened with reinforcements. A powerful quote emphasized “the abundance of weapons, the absence of a working Libyan government, and the lingering anti-Western sentiments” in addition of the Ambassador’s constant request for additional security.
Zuckoff commented, “There were a combination of motivations. Yes, they were highly paid but faced constant danger in their daily lives. Because the current military does not have enough personnel for all the missions around the world contractors needed to be hired. But these men were retired Special Forces/Marines so they had the experience. They repeatedly felt that this attack could have happened at any time. Jack had talked about this at some length, explaining that they always had to be prepared and that their job was to protect American lives.”
To offer readers some context Zuckoff began the book with a history of Libya that included a terrorist attack of the Benghazi American outpost in 1967. He noted, “I put that in so people will get a sense that history repeats itself. If you do not recognize history you are doomed to repeat it. I wanted to show people the world of these men.”
The heroes and the author hope after reading the book and seeing the movie Americans will understand “it is about what happened in Benghazi where American lives were saved, lost, and changed, as bullets flew, buildings burned, and mortars fired.”
People should read the book and see the movie because they will experience as the heroes did the intense, shocking, and horrific 13 Hours, and will be moved emotionally.