This book takes that sub-genre and makes it even more focused, and is all the better because of that. Dick Couch’s choice, with the exception of the first chapter, of focusing solely on the training of Green Berets rather than on the whole history of the outfit as a whole really lets him go into details that broader texts miss.
As a former SEAL Couch defiantly knows about Special Forces and is able to translate that into really detailed and clear explanation of what these men go through. He gives enough background detail of the people he is interacting with to be interesting without giving us page after page of soldiers that come and go through the training, a trap some history books fall into. This focus on the training with a brief overview of the men involved is more important when discussing Special Forces as so many men fall out of the training. Couch gives a good amount of anecdotal details about the candidates to make you feel connected to them without having to go into great detail about each man.
The pace of the book is also noteworthy. A poorly written history book can be a little tough to read. Having to record so much information and so many facts can leave a book a little dry if the author does not have the ability to keep an interesting narrative going throughout. Couch has mastered this narrative version of history writing and Chosen Soldier has a very easy to read flow.
There are a few problems with Couch’s writing however. Because he has broken the specialist training into its own sections there are times when he goes into detail about the same event nearly verbatim in multiple chapters. This doesn’t happen to often but when it does it can be distracting. He also seems to have lost some objectivity when writing this book. He is himself a character in his own books and recounts his side of interactions with soldiers as much as their interactions among each other. Doing this a few times might have its charms but he pushes this a little too far and his imposing himself in the story happens a little too much for my liking.
None of this detracts from the book. Chosen Soldier is a well-paced, informative read that anyone with interest in the military should pick up.