Four men creep on their bellies through the dust of an Afghan mountain. For the moment, they are concealed less than 500 yards away from an unanticipated enemy force, which outnumbers their group 5-to-1. As our small crew rushes for cover, the enemy fighters detect them and open fire immediately. As rounds zing around their heads, the four must call an air strike now, if they are to survive this encounter. Better not miss.

Author Brandon Webb absorbs the reader in the covert world of the Navy SEAL through his personal experiences. Through Brandon’s immersive style, we are carried along his journey through the trials of BUD/S training, deployment into the hotbed of Afghanistan immediately following the attack of 9/11, and the unique challenge of developing training for new generations of snipers.

Brandon begins the book by providing his backstory. As he lays out his busy childhood, the adventures (and misadventures) of his youth, and growing up on the water, the reader becomes acquainted with Brandon’s interests, like his love for high adrenaline sports and the ocean, and with his bold personality. We learn his strength of character, iron will (and stubbornness), and strong sense of leadership – an important theme throughout the book.

Setting one’s personal life, both the triumphs and weak points, for the evaluation of others is a challenge Brandon undertakes well. He is honest, introspective, and intelligent. His intimate tone makes the reading feel more like a conversation, as though he were sharing stories over a beer with a friend. He explains pertinent history and military jargon, making The Red Circle relatable for any reader, regardless of military background. In this way, he opens a window into a secret world, that of the elite Navy SEAL, and introduces the reader to the “asymmetrical” warfare of the present day.

Part of The Red Circle’s draw is the simple weight of how hard it is to become a SEAL, and the realization that the challenges only continue to mount after the grueling trials of BUD/S are passed. It’s enough to give any patriot a new level of respect for the courage and dedication Spec Ops forces possess in order to do what they need to fight for their nation. In a different manner, however, another part of what makes Brandon’s novel so compelling is the connection he makes with the reader. Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but to feel that, through his writing, I was getting to know Brandon. I couldn’t put down the book because I had to find out what challenges he would face next, and to see how he would overcome them.