Military Book Reviews

Embrace the Suck

From the early days of trying out for Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD), to his many missions in Fallujah and beyond, Brent Gleeson takes us through his journey of learning how to ‘embrace the suck’. With riveting stories coupled with realistic application, Gleeson outlines a manual to living an extraordinary life, the Navy Seal way. If you have ever struggled with accepting suffering or figuring out the purpose to your life, Embrace the Suck challenges you to explore yourself and dig deeper into figuring out what the setbacks are to your ultimate resilience.

Early on, Gleeson provides the Pain is a Pathway mental model which dictates the acts and the processes that allow us to understand that suffering is not only a pathway to peace but also the strength—the bedrock—to developing resilience. Gleeson goes on to offer useful applications including: staying active (exercising daily) and avoiding negative coping mechanisms (meditating versus abusing substances and alcohol.) At the end of every chapter, the author lists questions for reflection. They include, for example: do I have a fixed or growth mindset and when I have been especially resilient, what was true about me?

These questions allow us to digest the reading material from the chapter, but they also provide a moment to pause and consider our own thought and action processes. 

One story Gleeson highlights is the end of BUD’s Hell Week, marked by the passing of their brother John Porado. It is an overwhelming moment of silence as the men cry in unison. But even in their sorrow, they were not met with defeat and anguish but with gratefulness and admiration for a man who lived up to the Navy Seal Creed. Gleeson would have many trying moments, moments in which he could have thrown in the towel, and given up, or swam on. He chose the latter. And because of that, he went on serve as a Navy Seal in combat and became a successful entrepreneur and CEO of TakingPoint Leadership. 

Gleeson’s varied and honorable military career makes clear ‘embracing the suck’ is not just a mentality, but a way of life. If you are looking to challenge yourself mentally to annihilate your roadblocks and develop resilience, look no further than Embrace the Suck. Comparable to the likes of David Goggins and Mark Owen, Embrace the Suck illuminates the path to inner peace, resilience, and honorable character. 

Review contributed by Jacqueline Parker is an avid book lover and has developed her passion into a professional hobby of writing and reviewing books. In 2021, she is embarking on a 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, curating her book list from 2020 favorites and 2021 must-reads. In her free time, Jackie enjoys cycling, hiking, podcasting on DODReads, and spending time writing her first novel.

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