A moving account of bravery.

ONE MILLION STEPS

A MARINE PLATOON AT WAR

The terrible toll of the Marine Corps’ ferociously fighting Third Platoon in Afghanistan, within the context of a larger failed U.S. effort.

Embedded with the Third in January 2011 during its dangerous drive to clear out the Taliban from Sangin, a poppy-farming community in southern Afghanistan bordering Helmand province, war correspondent and Marine veteran West (The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan, 2011, etc.) offers a suspenseful account of the perilous mission, during which the platoon suffered a greater than 50 percent casualty rate. Though the objective of the mission—winning over the Sangin tribes of farmers, installing a turbine at the Kajaki Dam and instilling a “nation-building” ethos through the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency policy—was not achieved, West demonstrates the tenacity and cohesion that kept this fighting force together and driven despite the horrendous conditions. The author gives a terrific overview of the Western attempt after 9/11 to expunge Al-Qaida, while the U.S. remained ostensibly to build a democratic nation. Yet the Taliban crept back in to secure the wealth of the poppy fields, routinely attacking the British garrison around the district market and ringing it with IEDs. When the Marines went in with President Barack Obama’s call for a surge, the mission was to “drive the enemy out of Helmand by walking every foot of farmland”—6,000 steps per day. Despite the confusion about the goal, downgrading “defeat” of the Taliban to “diminish,” and attempting to win hearts and minds rather than killing their way to victory, the U.S Marines took over from the British and kept their sights on defeating the enemy. The battle-hardened Marines lived in caves and were frequently blown apart by IEDs, leaving shock and anger and a fresh will to move forward. West’s last chapter, “Who Will Fight for Us?” offers a heart-rending assessment of the collapse of this long war of attrition.

A moving account of bravery.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1400068746

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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