“13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,”

By MItchell Zuckoff - Reivewed by Eric Renderking Fisk

From the publisher:

13 HOURS presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.

13 HOURS sets the record straight on what happened during a night that has been shrouded in mystery and controversy. Written by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, this riveting book takes readers into the action-packed story of heroes who laid their lives on the line for one another, for their countrymen, and for their country.

13 HOURS is a stunning, eye-opening, and intense book--but most importantly, it is the truth. The story of what happened to these men--and what they accomplished--is unforgettable.

This book was written by MItchell Zuckoff as a collaboration with the surviving members of The Annex Security Team – most of the men who are depicted in this book and survived this event contributed in this narrative. This is the there story to tell with the details important to any journalistic product answering the most important “W’s” – the who, what, where, why – and most specifically how. How were they able to survive this terror attack, how were the terrorists able to strike against the American Embassy in Benghazi, and how were four men killed during these multiple attacks on both the embassy and the CIA annex compound?

Mr. Zuckoff is able to answer all of these questions via the collaboration with the people who were actually there, not through political talking points via the White House nor Hillary Clinton’s State Department or the filter of a biased Main Stream Media of either Fox News or MSNBC.

The author also takes great pains to focus the majority of the book on what happened in Benghazi before and during the attack, exploring the history and topography of the city of Benghazi, the location of The American Embassy and the CIA Annex and their uses, who was responsible for the attack and who wasn’t, and all the important men and women who were participants in the American compounds. There are brief explanations why the CIA Annex was separated from The Embassy, and its purpose was leading right up to the moment of the Annex Team abandoned the compound and escaped via convoy to the nearest airport.

The book has scant detail about the decision making progress in Washington, instead it focuses on the decisions of “Annex Chief Bob,” the man in charge of the CIA Annex who is characterized as an overly precautious beaurocrat who treated the contractors (former elite military specialists hired to provide security for the CIA compound and their agents working in the field in and around Benghazi) like over-paid shopping mall security personnel. He’s most noted in this book for demanding that the men under his command “stand down” when they hear the American Embassy is under attack and one of the Embassy staffers is heard begging on the two-way radio begging for help.

The phrase “If you don’t come soon, we’re all going to die!” is heard time and again with increasing levels of concern and fear. In the book, it’s written that despite these pleas, “Annex Chief Bob” is overly concerned about “the optics” of sending armed trucks and solders into the city and rescue Ambassador Stevens and his staff, and wastes precious time being indecisive while waiting for clearance from a higher authority from US Africom…
From the Africom official website.

… “United States Africa Command, in concert with interagency and international partners, builds defense capabilities, responds to crisis, and deters and defeats transnational threats in order to advance U.S. national interests and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.”

According to the book; If you are looking for someone to blame for the deaths of the four American's in the Benghazi attack, don't look at Hillary Clinton nor her State Department. Don't look to all the other American agencies besides the CIA who was supposed to be working in the region to gather information in the region to prevent another "September 11th" attack. Their inaction or incompetency via the Benghazi CIA Annex Compound allowed another September 11th attack, literally - a terrorist attack on the calendar date of September 11th. There is nothing in this book that indicates that Hillary Clinton nor her State Department let this tragic event happen. If you're looking for validation for disliking Hillary Clinton, this isn't the book for you.

Virtually it seems that the second half of the book is about the Annex contractors who descend into the hell that the city of Benghazi becomes during the attack, their trek through mayhem and destruction between the Annex Compound to the Ambassy, and then the return trip back home before the eventually four separate waves of attack on The CIA Annex Compound itself.

MItchell Zuckoff also chronicles the concern and paranoia the Americans have towards the local militia members and some of the people living in homes surrounding the compound and whether or not they are aiding the terrorisits, or if they have spies helping the Al-Qaeda linked group. This book similtaniously rivals any fictional book on political intrigue or war drama that I’ve read in recent years.

This is one of those crazy times when I have to recommend that everyone watches the motion picture also read the book that the movie is based upon. The movie doesn’t do a great job conveying all the intricate detail about the situation in Benghazi, who were all the people involved and their special threads in this mosaic, nor does this Michael Bey directed celluloid share with the viewers Ambassador Chris Stevens passion and love for the people in the region which is necessary to illustrate how genuinely horrific his inevitable death is so damn tragic for the people in that region.

The book on the other hand obviously lacks the visual spectacle; it’s hard to imagine how horrific some of the battles were without seeing them. Granted, like I said in my review of the movie, it’s a Michael Bay movie but it’s the most realistic and most honest one he’s ever made since it’s honest and faithful to the book it’s based on. I don’t think this is one of those cases that you have to read the book to watch the movie or vice-versa, either order will suffice.

The most important aspect to this book to readers of The Fedora Chronicles picks up where I left off in the review of this movie – how could any one of us survive a violent event to such an extent that these men experienced? What does it take to survive a localized apocalypse?

Readers of this website will be happy know that “13 Hours” goes into detail about these men and their backgrounds and the years – if not decades – of training they had while in the military before becoming contractors, either as Army Rangers, Navy SEAL’s, Marine Special Forces… and so on. The book also illustrates their equipment, the armor and protective gear they wear, what they pack in their “go bags” and what happens when their equipment and gear eventually fails or gets lost due to circumstances beyond their control. Despite their advanced preparedness, some men simply die because of circumstances beyond their control, it all comes down two a ‘cosmic lottery’ and the notion that if your number is up, it’s up and there is nothing you can do about it.

“13 Hours” is a near perfect book, and the performance of the author of the book who reads the audio version is a pleasure to listen to since he’s able to convey many of the emotions shared within these pages. It’s not the quintessential book about the entire controversy of September 11th, 2012 terrorist attack since it doesn’t go into the lengthy aftermath, the media coverage, the congressional hearings, and how it may have cost Hillary Clinton the election; this is the quintessential book about the September 11th, 2012 terrorist attack itself and those who either survived it or were killed during it, period.