The shocking, true story of a soldier gone rogue, and the court martial case that divided America.
This is the full story of Eddie Gallagher, a US recruit who was inspired to serve his nation, who became addicted to combat, and whose need to prove himself among his fellow soldiers pushed him to extremes. His actions during a combat deployment to Mosul would divide his platoon, then the SEALs, the Navy, the armed forces, the government, and even the American public, when the President intervened in his trial.
Alpha is an examination of how culture within the military has evolved since 9/11. In an endless war without major victories, the media has instead celebrated achievements of SEAL missions — such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the rescuing of Captain Phillips, and the survival of Marcus Luttrell. But the SEALs’ popularity blinded the public to what was also happening within the armed forces. When Gallagher was accused of killing an unarmed enemy combatant, it created a scandal that reached the White House and millions around the world.
‘This is one of the best books to come out of the Iraq war. It is also one of the saddest. There have been many books about Navy SEALs and snipers, but Alpha is by far the most important. I think it will be required reading for the Navy, as Black Hearts has become for the Army. Anyone who cares about the American military needs to read this.’
Thomas E. Ricks, bestselling author of Fiasco, First Principles, and The Generals
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‘Alpha is a phenomenally reported, deeply compelling portrait of moral courage and moral cowardice in the SEAL teams. Philipps details not simply the many failures of leadership within SEAL ranks that enabled war crimes, jeopardised the mission, and risked the lives of service members, but also the culture that made accountability almost impossible. Superb.’
Phil Klay, National Book Award–winning author of Missionaries and Redeployment
‘Alpha is an important, infuriating, meticulously researched account of modern warfare that I found nearly impossible to put down.’
Jon Krakauer, New York Times bestselling author of Where Men Win Glory and Into the Wild
‘New York Times reporter Philipps presents an enthralling, blow-by-blow account of the 2019 court-martial of US Navy SEAL platoon chief Eddie Gallagher for stabbing a wounded ISIS prisoner to death … This is the definitive portrait of a saga that exposed deep fault lines within an elite fighting force.’
Publishers Weekly, starred review
‘A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller.’
The Washington Post
‘Shakespearean … An excellent read from a seasoned reporter who covered the entire saga [of] Eddie Gallagher.’
The San Diego Union-Tribune