Winner of the 2002 Boyd Literary Award for Best Military Fiction.
Unsure of his own motives, an athletic college graduate becomes a Marine reconnaissance platoon leader. When Lieutenant Gavin Kelly’s recon platoon swims ashore a Mogadishu beach under the glare of hundreds of news camera lights, it is an appropriately surreal beginning to Operation Restore Hope. This modern war is vastly different from the young lieutenant’s experience during Desert Storm. Minutes after the Marines’ celebrated landing, one of Kelly’s men kills an armed Somali bodyguard. The circumstances of the killing are unclear and Kelly finds himself in the exact center of a maelstrom. He must act quickly to deflect a vociferous outcry from members of the international press corps, censure by his Marine superiors, and the possibility of losing the loyalty of his men–particularly two rock-hard sergeants who have vouched for the necessity of the kill.
Thus begins a stinging morality tale where Kelly is torn among his men, his confusing mission, and vicious Somali warlords protected by restrictive international rules of engagement. As his platoon descends into the lawless, violent underbelly of Somalia, Lieutenant Kelly must find his own values in a country whose very culture encourages killing at every street corner. At steep cost, Kelly must learn to accept responsibility for himself, for his men, and for his legacy.
“West recounts with tragic wit the war in Somalia, with every metallic snick of a machine-gun bolt authentic and in place….The rounds are singing off Clancy’s helmet.”
“Former Marine West shows staggering insight into the demoralizing dangers of Third World police duty in this powerful debut chronicling the clash of Marine vets and armed warlords in Somalia.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred reviews)
“Grunt’s eye view of the mean streets of Mogadishu”
“SHARKMAN SIX is truly a war novel for the New World Order. It’s set in Somalia, but it could be anywhere that American troops are sent without a clue as to why they’re there. This is rare insight, written by a former Marine, into how the modern military functions, or doesn’t function. Sharp-edged, fast paced, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always entertaining. Owen West takes a minor military operation and makes it an important morality tale as well as a metaphor for the way things really are.”
—Nelson DeMille, author of The General’s Daughter
“A heartfelt opening vow by Lt. Gavin Kelly not to lose any of his men during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia sets the tone for this strong first-person novel about peacekeeping. The young Marine finds himself dealing with reporters, warlord gangs, and restrictive rules of engagement as he leads his platoon on a mission to feed Somalis. Kelly’s inner struggles and the horrors around him are real and gripping. There’s lots of bloody action, but this is not a thriller–Owen West strives to re-create the experiences of Marines in a hostile land. He succeeds in making this novel compelling from start to finish.” (J.A.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award)
“A great book, impossible to put down. . . . Author West puts us right in the middle of the action in this harrowing portrayal of the complexities of war as seen through the eyes of a complex soldier.”
—Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector
“A superb war book-absorbing and deeply expressed. Owen West really puts you inside the minds of the Marines on the front lines.”
—Mark Burnett, Creator, Executive Producer of “Survivor”
“A complex morality play about military operations other than war and the practical and ethical dilemmas involved…a complex novel on many levels…fast-paced adventure novel.”
—Marine Corps Gazette
“New classic military novel.”
—Flint (MI) Times
“Owen West’s breakneck, fast-paced style commands the reader’s attention from the first scene. His characters remain men in a world where the new order and modern weaponry would reduce them to mere drones. SHARKMAN SIX crackles with intensity.”
—Andrew Huebner, author of American by Blood