The Red Circle

My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen

  • New York Times bestseller

In April 2009, my agent called and told me a story about something that had just happened to her.

It was just days after three Navy SEAL snipers had executed the magic act that saved the life of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama, and she had been watching a CNN interview with the guy who had created the sniper course that trained these three heroes.

“I’d like to have that guy as a client!” she told a friend.

This was on a Saturday. The following Monday, that guy walked into her office looking for an agent. His name was Brandon Webb. And now she was calling just to check if by any chance I was interested in writing his book.

“I didn’t figure you’d want to do this one,” she said. “I mean, this is not exactly the kind of thing you write.”

It is now.

Full disclosure: I have never been a Navy SEAL. In fact, I have never served in the military and (although my grandfather was an Air Force general) confess I knew next to nothing about military life when this project started. On the face of it, you’d think Brandon and I would have had nothing in common.

But we clicked. And have since become good friends and close business partners. And if you’re wondering why, you’ll find the answers in the pages of this book. Because The Red Circle is about the life and career of one Navy SEAL sniper—but underneath that, what it’s really about is excellence, leadership, commitment, perseverance, devotion, and the unshakable belief that if you throw yourself into it—heart, mind, body, soul—you can achieve the impossible.

Foreign Language Editions

Now also available in Chinese (modern), Chinese (traditional), CzechFrench and Polish editions. (Clicking on the cover will take you to the site where you can order that edition.) 

The Red Circle Reviews

“A painstaking recounting of the hellish mental and physical tests required to earn a SEAL’s trident pin and the nitty-gritty of the course necessary to become a SEAL sniper. … Webb and Mann do a good job of placing the reader on the mountain slopes [of Afghanistan] and in the Zhawar Kili caves, where the SEALs searched for bad guys and the weapons and information they left behind. … The first-person narrative and casual tone of the book give the sense that Webb is telling these stories around the campfire.”
San Diego Union-Tribune

“Brandon has a great story to tell, and it is living proof that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”
— Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor

“If you want to know what makes up the DNA of a Navy SEAL and have a behind-the-scenes look at the best sniper program in the world, then ‘hold 1 right for wind’ and read The Red Circle.”
— Chris Kyle, American Sniper

“An impressive and well-written account of the most elite snipers in the world. Webb recounts with heartfelt and vivid description the training, trials, and heartache that are all costs of choosing this lifestyle.”
— Howard E. Wasdin, SEAL Team Six

“A valuable read for anyone aspiring to reach goals that seem unattainable — in any walk of life.”
— CDR Richard Marcinko, USN (Ret.), Rogue Warrior

“The story of today’s Navy SEALs is Brandon Webb’s to tell, and The Red Circle does it masterfully. Strap in for a wild ride.”
— CDR Ward Carroll, USN (ret.), editor of

Excerpt from The Red Circle

I’ve thought long and hard about why I am writing this book and what I want it to say. I think the message I want my story to get across boils down to two words:

Excellence matters.

Throughout my time with the Navy and within the SEAL community, I’ve seen poor leadership and exceptional leadership. I’ve seen training that was simply good, training that was great, and training so transcendingly amazing it blew my mind. And I’ve seen the difference it makes.

In political matters I have always been a down-the-middle-line person. When it comes to leaders, I care less about their party affiliation and more about their character and competence. I don’t care how they would vote on school prayer, or abortion, or gay marriage, or gun laws. I want to know that they know what the hell they’re doing, and that they are made of that kind of unswerving steel that will not be rattled in moments that count, no matter what is coming at them. I want to know that they won’t flinch in the face of debate, danger, or death.

I want to know that they excel at what they do.

A free society looks like it rests on big principles and lofty ideals, and maybe it does for much of the time. But in the dark times, those times that count most, what it comes down to is not reason or rhetoric but pure commitment, honed over time into the fabric of excellence.

Why am I telling you this? Because it matters.

You may never shoot a sniper rifle. You may never serve as part of an assault team, or stand security in combat, or board a hostile ship at midnight on the high seas. You may never wear a uniform; hell, you may never even throw a punch in the name of freedom. I’ll tell you what, though. Whatever it is that you do, you are making a stand, either for excellence, or for mediocrity.

This is what I learned about being a Navy SEAL: it is all about excellence, and about never giving up on yourself. And that is the red circle I will continue to hold, no matter what.

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