A must-read for military buffs and a should-read for anyone who has given even a cursory thought to the U.S. efforts in...

ALL THE WAYS WE KILL AND DIE

AN ELEGY FOR A FALLEN COMRADE, AND THE HUNT FOR HIS KILLER

The search for the story behind an IED death leads to the history of the post–9/11 wars and the lives of the men and women who fight them.

Coming to terms with the details surrounding the death of a fallen comrade is often both personal and businesslike. In Castner’s (The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows, 2012) latest book, it is almost entirely personal. No longer on the job as part of an Air Force explosive ordnance disposal team, the author investigates his friend Matt’s wartime death to answer some of his questions and the demons that lived alongside them. Castner already had intimate knowledge of what Matt was doing every day in Afghanistan as part of the EOD team, and he used that foundation to find the personal stories of others who survived IED blasts, men and women who were crucial in the search for “the Engineer” of the bomb and the way war has changed for the current generation of soldiers. Castner’s personal drive shines through the investigation, providing an intimacy that draws readers in. Not just along for the ride, readers will be equally invested with the author in finding the elusive man behind the IED technology. Castner does a beautiful job of putting together his puzzle, weaving all the seemingly disparate elements into one cohesive whole. Covering all aspects of his experiences, the author makes learning about a week in the life of a drone pilot as integral to the story as understanding how insurgents target specific military vehicles. Castner’s writing is evocative and engaging, completely absorbing from beginning to end.

A must-read for military buffs and a should-read for anyone who has given even a cursory thought to the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62872-654-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation.

CODE TALKER

A firsthand account of how the Navajo language was used to help defeat the Japanese in World War II.

At the age of 17, Nez (an English name assigned to him in kindergarten) volunteered for the Marines just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Growing up in a traditional Navajo community, he became fluent in English, his second language, in government-run boarding schools. The author writes that he wanted to serve his country and explore “the possibilities and opportunities offered out there in the larger world.” Because he was bilingual, he was one of the original 29 “code talkers” selected to develop a secret, unbreakable code based on the Navajo language, which was to be used for battlefield military communications on the Pacific front. Because the Navajo language is tonal and unwritten, it is extremely difficult for a non-native speaker to learn. The code created an alphabet based on English words such as ant for “A,” which were then translated into its Navajo equivalent. On the battlefield, Navajo code talkers would use voice transmissions over the radio, spoken in Navajo to convey secret information. Nez writes movingly about the hard-fought battles waged by the Marines to recapture Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and others, in which he and his fellow code talkers played a crucial role. He situates his wartime experiences in the context of his life before the war, growing up on a sheep farm, and after when he worked for the VA and raised a family in New Mexico. Although he had hoped to make his family proud of his wartime role, until 1968 the code was classified and he was sworn to silence. He sums up his life “as better than he could ever have expected,” and looks back with pride on the part he played in “a new, triumphant oral and written [Navajo] tradition,” his culture's contribution to victory.

A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-425-24423-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more