So Others May Live is a tribute to the U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmers and the teams that surround them. These are people that risk their lives in some of the most harrowing and hazardous conditions to try to save people they do not even know. Little has been told of the amazing level of heroism and patriotism that surrounds this program and this book puts it under a spotlight.
Unlike most of the other adventure books reviewed on this site, So Others May Live is made up of a bunch of smaller short stories. Typically I am not a big fan of books full of short stories, but this was an exception. Each story is an individual rescue operation based on first hand accounts from the flight crews and swimmers themselves. The first two chapters detail how the swimmer program got started and the intense, often brutal training and selection process that the swimmers have to go through. After this, each chapter is an action packed, fascinating account of a rescue attempt.
The author, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate, does an excellent job of accurately portraying the unbelievable risk the swimmers and crews would go through to get the job done. There is a rescue that takes place within a cave filling and being battered by ocean waves that is as intense as it gets. There are a few others that are nearly as intense and most stories would nearly bring me to tears with their authenticity.
Now for the downside, and it is due to the many stories style. With many stories, there are only so many really great ones to be found. So Others May Live has some stories that are a little lackluster. I can’t say there were any I did not enjoy, but there were several that just did not have a lot of spark for me.
Overall this was a fun read with a few absolutely amazing rescue stories. For anyone that has had an interest in the U.S. Coast Guard or life saving stories this is well worth reading. Be ready for a few stories that are a little slow, but they are still an interesting read and none of the stories are very long, so you are quickly on to the next one anyway.