Suffer in Silence

Suffer in Silence

Julie Merritt

Suffer in Silence

David Reid


P.O. Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842

1589396480, $16.00, 340 pages,

Popular culture is saturated with references to Navy SEALs. These silent warriors are the focus of dozens of books, documentaries, movies and video games. To make his mark in a crowded field, new author David Reid needed to produce a truly memorable book. Luckily for us, that’s exactly what he did when he wrote Suffer in Silence.

Many authors have delved into the rigors of SEAL training. Thousands of pushups, endless torture in the freezing surf, 120 hours without a wink of sleep–these are surely the elements of gripping human drama. Nevertheless, I didn’t truly appreciate both the horror and the beauty of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training until I found myself entangled in Reid’s compelling novel.

While struggling to survive the first few months of SEAL training, Ensign Mark Grey develops a strong bond of friendship with Seaman Murray, an irascible sailor who constantly garners unwanted attention from the instructor staff. Convinced that a particularly fearsome instructor is determined to force him out of training, Murray opts to delve into blackmail in an attempt to save his career. Despite his raunchy sense of humor and fatally flawed judgment, I found myself enthralled by Murray’s antics. Grey is an equally sympathetic character, and he brings an unusual sensitivity to one of the toughest places on earth. And as a Tennessee native, I was pleasantly surprised that Reid’s description of Seaman Jones (a.k.a. “the Tennessee Wonder”) was spot-on.

The one weakness in Reid’s novel is the skeletal nature of its plot. Although the central drama of the story unfolds slowly, I was so mesmerized by Reid’s engaging characters and crisp descriptions of training that I never lost interest. In a particularly vivid scene at the end of Hell Week, an officer known for his ability to rattle off classical poetry stands high up on the diving platform while the rest of the class engages in a violent melee below. Reid juxtaposes stanzas of poetry with glimpses of the chaos unfolding in the pool. Wielded by a less skilled author, this ruse could easily have failed. However, Reid manages to enhance the mystique of SEAL training by seamlessly melding the sequence with the semi-lucid thoughts of the sleep-deprived students.

Suffer in Silence is not for the feint of heart. You may learn some things that disturb you: the instructors’ obsession with pornography and homosexuality is troubling, the students’ injuries and infections are gruesome, and a surprise visit by a drunk instructor in the middle of the night results in astounding abuse. Nevertheless, the author paints a fair picture of SEAL training. Despite the endless litany of tortures the instructors employ with glee, the allure of joining ranks with our nation’s finest warriors shines through in Reid’s novel.

Suffer in Silence is thoughtful, fearsomely honest, and expertly crafted–a genuine triumph. David Reid is a rising talent, and he will have to create something remarkable to exceed my expectations for his next effort.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Midwest Book Review

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group