• Alpha

  • Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs
  • By: David Philipps
  • Narrated by: Andrew Eiden
  • Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (437 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An epic account of the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon, the startling accusations against their chief, Eddie Gallagher, and the courtroom battle that exposed the dark underbelly of America’s special forces—from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter

“An infuriating, fast-paced thriller.”—The Washington Post

By official accounts, the Navy SEALs of Alpha platoon returned as heroes after their 2017 deployment to Mosul, following a vicious, bloody, and successful campaign to drive ISIS from the city. But within the platoon a different war raged. Even as Alpha’s chief, Eddie Gallagher, was being honored by the Navy for his leadership, several of his men were preparing to report him for war crimes, alleging that he’d stabbed a prisoner in cold blood and taken lethal sniper shots at unarmed civilians.

Many young SEALs regarded Gallagher as the ideal special operations commando. Trained as a sniper, a medic, and an explosives expert, he was considered a battle-tested leader. But in the heat of combat, some in his platoon saw a darker figure—a man who appeared to be coming unhinged after multiple deployments in America’s forever wars. Their excitement to work with a tough, experienced chief soon gave way to a grim suspicion that his thirst for blood seemed to know no bounds and a belief that his unpredictability was as dangerous as the enemy. 

In riveting detail, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times correspondent David Philipps reveals the story of a group of special operators caught in a moral crucible—should they uphold their oath and turn in their chief, or honor the SEALs’ unwritten code of silence? It is also a larger story of how the SEAL Teams drifted off course after 9/11, and of the “pirate” subculture that festered within their ranks—a secret brotherhood that, in a time of endless war with few clear victories, made the act of killing itself the paramount goal. The investigation and trial following Alpha’s deployment—and Gallagher’s ultimate acquittal on the most serious charges—would pit SEAL against SEAL, set the Navy brass on a collision course with President Donald Trump, and turn Gallagher into a political litmus test in a hotly polarized America. 

A compelling tale of battle, honor, and betrayal, Alpha is a remarkable exposé of the fault lines fracturing a country that has been at war for a generation and counting.

©2021 David Philipps (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Meticulously assembled and brilliantly written . . . [a] remarkable and engrossing book.”The New York Times

“A dogged researcher and gifted writer, Philipps turns the story of Gallagher’s rise, his alleged war crimes and the botched Navy prosecution into an infuriating, fast-paced thriller.”The Washington Post

“Shakespearean . . . An excellent read from a seasoned reporter who covered the entire saga [of] Eddie Gallagher.”The San Diego Union-Tribune

What listeners say about Alpha

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This is a book from people who were proven to lie their asses off.

I have listened to the trial tapes and the ncis footage and I am not buying this version. Stuff doesn’t jive. EG gets the platoon from worst to the best and they give him that credit yet he is terrible at his job according to these yahoos! Does not make any sense. Miller, burns, Tolbert, vrentz, and Delila are clearly full of shit. …..just listen to the trial and ncis tapes.

16 people found this helpful

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The other side of the story

I read the other book (Man in the Arena) and I’ll say it again, there are these two sides to the story and in the middle is the truth.

However, it’s a shame that Man in the arena was so poorly recorded and very unprofessionally edited by Amazon. I don’t know who’s side to believe more, but I sure can see both sides being the truth. Being a Marine Corp veteran and 20+ years in Law enforcement, there both sides of Eddie’s personality in both jobs.

Good read.

14 people found this helpful

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A shame...

It is a shame more of this info wasn't out for public consumption during the trial and subsequent fallout.

Anyone who has served in a premiere combat unit in the GWOT knows a senior leader like EG, unfortunately.

As a former Army Sniper, those descriptions surrounding the shooting just ring true to me. From shooting the wall around the loop hole to firing shots and claiming kills. I implore anyone in a dust covered desert environment to go set up a hide in a blown out building and take shots at 750 meters and call your own hits. Goodluck with the dust and the subsequent calls on your non human steel targets that don't move or run or scatter when you shoot at them.

The saying, "Real recognizes real" rings true here.

Hopefully the masses will read this and realize what a turd this dude really is. I feel bad for his kids and for the guys rolled in the wake left behind by this.

13 people found this helpful

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Well written worth reading

This journalist definitely did his homework in order to write this book. As I listen I hear the obvious evidence of the issues that happen with any group, the rise and fall of values and the people in the middle of that fall not being able to see what is so obvious
The narrator is the right person to read this story.
If only all groups or agencies with the kind of absolute power would constantly check whether they are spiraling down or up and change course when on its way down and learn when on the way up we would have better military, policing, and political directions and action.
The worse thing we can do as humans is operate with such all or nothing, black or white, good guy or bad guy kind of thinking.
I think the day of war as it’s been up till now is no longer viable. If we don’t work from our higher thinking to solve world issues we are going to take that step too far and have no way to step back from that action

11 people found this helpful

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Compelling

very insightful, it shows me the danger of having a president who was a disaster and a tv network that is a danger to the country

7 people found this helpful

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Unbelievable and upsetting snapshot of spec ops

This book goes to show our military isn’t made of perfect heros. It is a group of individuals with their own flaws. I’m an Army veteran that served in Iraq, and I’ve never understood or agreed with how veterans can receive free passes to do anything they want by the civilian population. I feel sorry for every soldier, marine, or seaman that is forced to work under leadership that encourages this behavior.
This is a enthralling and upsetting story. You won’t be able to stop listening to. I wonder if it is all true.

6 people found this helpful

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Great and Rage inducing at the same time

I spent 17 yrs as a special operations medic. Five of those years in Iraq and Afghanistan and I was severely wounded once in each country. I am the anti-Gallagher. I listened to the podcast before the book and was impressed. The book took it steps further. Great research, great character building. It would be an awesome fiction novel. Too bad it’s this nightmare the SO’s community will be dealing with for many yrs

5 people found this helpful

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Every American needs to read this book

This book about "pirate culture" not only describes a specific story about the US Navy Seals but actually serves as a metaphor for what IS happening to all of our institutions and to our country since the conservative movement decided years ago that power was all that mattered, not the constitution, not any notion of a common good, not even the rule of law, or their respect for fellow citizens or humanity itself. It all comes down to unbridled selfishness in a world blinded by winning and losing. Phillip's tale is captivating and infuriating. We are all paying a high price for the willful ignorance that says right and wrong only matters if you get caught. We are losing our freedom every day not because we are weak but because we don't understand that freedom comes through wisdom and self restraint. at least there were a few of the characters in the story who did know this and did their best to serve truth and justice. America has too few of these good men and way too many Eddie and Andrea Gallaghers and their happy collaborators capitalizing on evil.

5 people found this helpful

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Psychotic Serial Killer Pirate... Eddie Gallagher!

This is the TRUE story of how a psychotic serial killer pirate got away with multiple murders and president trump protected him from everybody! If you want a true account and from a well researched author that covers all the atrocities that this murderer did from the moment they were in Mosul until the end of the trial and afterwards, this is the book to read. Eddie is a shit stain to the Seals honor and tradition and loyalty and to all the men that served in the past and present and future. It will blow your mind with what he gets away with during his career!

4 people found this helpful

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The Whistleblower’s Dilemma

Which is more important, duty or loyalty? What does honor require? These are the profound questions raised in “Alpha,” a suspenseful true story of conflicted Navy Seals. The men in Alpha platoon must choose how to respond when their gung-ho leader, Eddie Gallagher, seems to go rogue in Iraq, committing random acts of violence and apparently even a murder. Each Seal is skillfully drawn, giving the listener a strong sense of their character. Some support Eddie all the way. Some try to bring him to justice despite their loyalty to the platoon. And some just look away. The whistleblower's dilemma – report the bad guy and risk your career or stay loyal to the team and risk your self-respect – has been dramatized before. This true story is as compelling as any fiction. Andrew Eiden’s narration adds to the drama. He reads with a street savvy intensity, always holding the listener’s interest. Highly recommended!

3 people found this helpful