First SEALs

The Untold Story of the Forging of America's Most Elite Unit


By Patrick K. O’Donnell

Formats and Prices




$28.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $21.99 $28.99 CAD
  2. ebook $10.99 $13.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 27, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In the summer of 1942, an extraordinary group of men united to form an exceptional unit. Known as the Maritime Unit, it comprised America's first swimmer-commandos—an elite breed of warrior-spies who were decades ahead of their time when they created the tactics, technology, and philosophy that live on in today's Navy SEALs. Often armed only with knives and wearing nothing more than swim trunks and flippers, the Maritime Unit’s combat swimmers and other operatives carried out seaborne clandestine missions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean theaters of World War II. In First SEALs, Patrick K. O'Donnell unearths their incredible history—one of the greatest untold stories of World War II.

  • Military Review, U.S. Army
    "One of the world's preeminent military historians"

    Sacramento Bee
    "The Navy's Sea, Air, and Land teams (SEAL) are rightfully legendary, but until now their origin has been obscured by time. In this behind-the-scenes history, readers learn how a World War II group known as the Maritime Unit became the template for today's elite special force."

    Portland Book Review, 3/5/15
    “Those having interest in World War II history will love the result of [O'Donnell's] research…The writing in this book is very good, very readable.”

    Proceedings, June 2015
    “O'Donnell sets the scene for today's SEALs and provides the reader with the history of the inception of Navy special operations.”

    Seapower, June 2015
    “Much of the history of the MU was buried in classified archives until unearthed by the author.”

    Military Heritage, July 2015
    “Extensive research and interviews have now brought this story back to light. The author is an established authority on special operations forces and his new book sheds light on the origin of the SEALs.”

On Sale
Oct 27, 2015
Page Count
320 pages
Da Capo Press

Patrick K. O’Donnell

About the Author

Bestselling author Patrick K. O’Donnell is a combat historian who has written nine books, including the William E. Colby Award winner Beyond Valor, Dog Company, and We Were One (selected for the Marine Commandant’s Professional Reading List). The author is the recipient of numerous awards include the prestigious OSS Society’s John Waller Award. Visit him at and

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