As a critic, my area of expertise is fiction — more specifically, the thriller genre, especially political, spy, and military thrillers. . . anything with action. I read books about people who do extraordinary things, but they all have one thing in common (well, two if you count stopping nuclear attacks, because they all stop nuclear attacks at some point): they’re all fictional.
When I’m not reading books for reviews or blurbs, I like to get outside the genre I cover and try something else. I personally enjoy autobiographies, but it’s pretty rare I actually review a nonfiction book. I’ve done it, sure, but the book has to really knock my socks off for me to step aside from the thriller genre and take the time to review it.
That’s exactly what happened when I read Mastering Fear.
Following Mitch Rapp or Jason Bourne is great, don’t get me wrong. I love those characters and greatly admire the authors who created them. Recently, more than ever, real heroes are stepping into the world of fiction, trying their hands at penning thrillers.
Brad Taylor (former Delta Force commander turned New York Times bestselling author), A.J. Tata (former brigadier general who now writes the Jake Mahegan series), Sean Parnell (former U.S. Airborne Army Ranger and bestselling nonfiction author whose debut thriller comes out this fall), Matthew Betley (who spent ten years as a Marine officer and was trained as a scout sniper platoon commander before creating Logan West), Nick Irving (one of our nation’s deadliest snipers who just teamed with Tata on a new fiction novel), and Joshua Hood (former 82nd Airborne and author of the Mason Kane military thrillers) are just a few former servicemen who’ve taken their real-life experience and applied it to the fictional universes they’ve created.
Then you have the Chris Kyles and Marcus Luttrells of the world, who detail their experiences with gripping, first-hand accounts of their time in the military. Brandon Webb has done that, too. The Killing School, for example, is phenomenal. But this time around, Webb, who has also written numerous motivational books (like Total Focus), manages something truly extraordinary. Not only does his latest book offer stories from his time in the Navy, but Webb provides a glimpse into other areas of his life as well, like when he taught his friend Kamal, who was terrified of water, how to swim.
Through it all, page by page, the former Navy SEAL actually teaches readers about fear.
I might know a lot about thrillers, but I definitely know more about fear. We all do. And therein lies the magic of Webb’s book. He doesn’t just teach you how to beat your fears. . . he teaches you how to harness your fears so that you can use them as fuel to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
“Mastering your fear is not about becoming physically stronger,” writes Webb in an early chapter, “it is about how to identify and change the conversation in your head.” And that, truly, is the essence of this book. Maybe you won’t turn the final page and feel ready to go all Juggernaut on your fears, running head-first through those metaphorical brick walls, but if you read Webb’s thought-provoking analysis of fear itself, I guarantee you’ll see your fears differently, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have been inspired enough to attack them with everything you’ve got. I know I was.
You don’t have to be an ex-special forces commando to face your fears. If you sit down to read just one chapter, you’ll be sucked into the next, and then the next, until you’ve finished every page. Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide is a powerful tool that reads fast, educating you about the things you’re afraid of and then motivating you to overcome them.
Author: Brandon Webb and John David Mann
Pages: 200 (Hardcover)
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.