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Publisher's Summary

From former special ops Navy SEAL senior chief; master naval parachutist (four Bronze Stars with Valor, Navy and Marine Corps Medal recipient, etc.); fighter in 150 missions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Africa); expert military dog trainer and handler whose SEAL dogs were partners and medal winners - a fierce, moving tale of a return from hell, being badly wounded on a special ops mission that ended his two-decades-long military career, his searing recovery, and the struggle to live life off the speeding train of war. 
In Touching the Dragon, James Hatch, naval special warfare operator, expert commando, tactical master in deadly operations, 24 years in service to his country (he enlisted in the Army National Guard at age 17), writes of his years of military service, from joining the navy at 18, becoming a SEAL, to his joining the Naval Special Warfare Development group ("If I died in a gunfight, it would be doing something I loved"). He writes of the harrowing secret missions (Iraq, Bosnia, Africa) and of the fateful final mission (Afghanistan) that left him badly shot (a bullet exploding through his femur and out the back of his leg) as Hatch and his SEAL team crew were attempting to rescue a rogue soldier - Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his post, was captured by Al Qaida and Taliban militants, and was set to be smuggled to a part of the world where Americans could never reach him.
Hatch writes of the horrific wound to his leg; of having no choice but to end his military career; of coming home to the country he'd spent his life defending; of the ordeal of getting well physically (18 surgeries, 12 months of recovery, learning to walk again); of having to find out who he was as a man apart from the chaotic world of special operations missions; of days and months of despair, alcoholism, the pull toward suicide; and of finally, through love of family, friends, soldiers, and his specially trained military dogs, touching the dragon, of going through the fear of feeling unfit for society, of finding a purpose and a way back to life.
©2018 James Hatch, Christian D'Andrea (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Jimmy Hatch has managed to write a love story out of a war story. The love he has found for those he protected, those he fought with, the dogs he depended on. And finally he found a way to love himself." (Kenny Mayne, ESPN anchor; host, Kenny Mayne's Wider World of Sports)
"This book touched me like no other personal account of battle I've read. Though a special operator who saw more engagements than most, Jimmy Hatch offers no boast or bravado. Instead he describes his unique experiences - and the wars that have shaped this generation of fighting men and women - with provocative insight, calm stoicism, and thoughtful but frustrated understanding. But it is how he has taken those experiences and applied them to his post-trauma life that makes this comparable to Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier. An exceptional read." (Mark Hertling, LTG, US Army, retired)
"There are plenty of books full of daring wartime exploits, but I haven't come across any book that reveals with such honesty and openness, the 'second war' that Jimmy and other special operators must fight when they come back to a society that seems so alien to them, a society completely divorced from the purity of combat." (Anderson Cooper)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Diana on 06-02-18

Rare Honesty - Raw and Well Written

James Hatch, in sharing his story, has given us a gift. He stripped away the ever present emotional body armor most veterans wear to show us the vulnerable human inside. I won't even try to give a synopsis because there is just too much. His word choice and selection of detail elevates the reader to a place of understanding. As a part of the "non-military" audience, I didn't feel lost in overbearing military jargon. Instead, it was as if the author takes the reader by the hand and teaches us to see his world from the inside out. He efficiently builds characters through the use of nicknames. Usually, this treatment runs the risk of developing flat or stagnant characters. Because of the first person narrative, as the story unfolds, the reader understands that the host of characters undergo dynamic changes together, because that is the only way it can happen. No one walked away unchanged from these events. His rhythm in the telling is spot on. He took me on a roller coaster of emotions and I found myself crying and cheering, feeling despair and then hope. He alludes to books and philosophical concepts in a way that adds to the meaning for those who are familiar with them, yet doesn't detract for those who are unfamiliar with them. This added scaffold of meaning makes the book equally accessible to a wide audience. His message is important and so needed in our culture. I'm glad that I listened to the book first because I think hearing it added to the immediacy of the story and gave power to his truth.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

life lessons for us all!

This deeply personal story shows the struggles and triumphs of one Veteran but his lessons can be applied to anyone. His raw honesty is refreshing and his story could make a difference for so many. Highly recommend.

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