May 19, 2016 - RM Schneiderman

May 19, 2016
RM Schneiderman

Time, the Greek philosopher Heraclitis allegedly said, “is like a river endlessly flowing, and no man can set foot into it twice,” because over time everything is changing, and thus, both the river and the foot are different every time they re-connect.

You can see what Heraclitis meant by going to the website of Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL who wrote the book Lone Survivor and who is its hero as well in the movie version starring Mark Wahlberg.

In an entry dated December 18, 2013, and still the homepage for is a description of the plot of the book and the movie: “How an Afghan and a Navy SEAL became “brothers.”  The two men are seen together in a photograph.  But by then the river had flowed and Luttrell and the Afghan who had saved his life, Mohammed Gulab, a 40-something illiterate timber farmer and merchant from a village called Sabray in northeastern Afghanistan, were already starting to set their feet in divergent directions.

You can sense that if you go to the bio page of the website which sums up the “Sole Survivor’s” story in these words:  “He was given shelter by an Afghan tribe, who alerted the Americans of his presence, and American forces finally rescued him six days after the gun battle (in which the other three members of his unit were killed)…He then wrote the book, Lone Survivor, to share the amazing story of his brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Notice? In the website bio Marcus Luttrell was saved, not by Gulab, but “by and Afghan tribe,” and his brothers are no longer include Mohammed Gulab, but are his fellow-SEALs who were killed in Kunar Province.

But that unchanging internet rock in the middle of the flowing river of time is now itself more than two years old, and both Luttrell, whose reportedly made millions of dollars from the book and movie and is now a patriotic speaker and entrepreneur, and Gulab, living the life of an impoverished refugee in an apartment in Fort Worth, Texas, don’t speak of one another as brothers any more. They are estranged…separated by disputes about money and loyalty and honor.

Our guest today, R.M. Schneiderman, a senior editor at Newsweek recently wrote a cover story for Newsweek. The headline reads: “Marcus Luttrell’s Savior, Mohammad Gulab, Claims ‘Lone Survivor’ Got It Wrong” and it turns out, Gulab means more than the disputed details of Sole Survivor’s story.

Reading Room

R.M. Schneiderman is a senior editor at Newsweek.  He started as an intern at Newsweek in 2005, and worked as a reporter-researcher there in 2006 and as a writer/editor from 2010 to 2013. Previously he’s written for The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesForeign Affairs and ESPN the Magazine, among other publications. He was also the editor of The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey Into the Gulag of the Russian Mind. His interests include hip-hop music, mixed martial arts, hats and puppies.

“Marcus Luttrell’s Savior, Mohammad Gulab, Claims ‘Lone Survivor’ Got It Wrong” –Newsweek

“Afghan who saved Navy SEAL seeks asylum in U.S., lawyer says” – CBS News

“The SEAL’s unlikely rescuer: True story told from perspective of an Afghan warrior who risked his life” – Hampton Roads

“Afghan villager who saved Navy SEAL gets life line from U.S. after ‘Lone Survivor’ release escalates danger” – New York Daily News

“How an Afghan and a Navy SEAL became ‘brothers'” –

“Reel Face vs. Real Face: Lone Survivor” – History vs. Hollywood

“How Accurate Is Lone Survivor?” – Slate



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