Review of Extreme Ownership

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Former US Navy SEAL officers and New York Times number one best-selling authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin served in the Iraq War, including the 2006 Battle of Ramadi. They fought in SEAL Task Unit Bruiser, an outstanding special operations unit. The two officers created and led leadership training for SEALs and later opened Echelon Front, a leadership consultancy for building and leading winning teams. Their combat record is exemplary, and they fought in some of the war’s toughest battles. Willink held higher rank than Babin, but their communication, commitment and willingness to examine the efficacy of their actions created a lasting bond. They now consult together, helping companies solve leadership problems. However, leadership lessons make up barely half of their book. Combat stories fill most of the text and prove far more engaging. In the war-story section of each chapter, the authors detail the planning and execution of a combat mission. Surprisingly, the section of each chapter that often turns out to be the most illuminating about leadership is the combat debriefing. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends these compelling war stories to those who prefer a military-style leadership structure and are willing to examine their own mistakes with ruthless candor.

About the Authors

Former US Navy SEAL officers and New York Times best-selling authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin served in SEAL Task Unit Bruiser during the Iraq War. They created and led leadership training for SEALs and now run Echelon Front, a team leadership consultancy.


Willink and Babin set out to give readers the leadership lessons they learned as Navy SEALs. Each chapter begins with a combat photo showing the authors as tough, competent warriors. Their prose mirrors their military background. They write in hard-nosed direct sentences, with few adjectives, although they use the ones that they like often. They also repeat certain events and use some words – “wary” and “deference,” for example – incorrectly. But never mind all that. Even given that the manuscript would benefit from a rigorous edit, its flaws haven’t deterred its readers.

Perhaps that’s because the authors’ clumsy, plodding style and tendency to fall back on clichés can’t blunt the excitement of their account of their wartime experiences. The downside is that sometimes the flatness of their authorial voice – which seems to spring from a warrior-dude refusal to evoke emotion – drains some of the drama out of their combat sagas and the illuminating leadership lessons they exemplify.

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    A. 4 years ago
    Yet another business book written by an ex-military person. The lessons are all the same -- if you've read one, you've read them all. Same deal with famous ex-sports coaches. Team work. Keep the end in mind. Never give up. Blah, blah, blah.