Though the writing lacks polish, readers interested in elite military forces could hardly ask for a more honest rendering.

YELLOW GREEN BERET

STORIES OF AN ASIAN-AMERICAN STUMBLING AROUND U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES

A West Point graduate looks back on his training and experiences as a Green Beret.

What does it take to succeed as a member of the Army Special Forces? Author Wong (Yellow Green Beret Vol. II, 2012) found out when he attended West Point in the late 1990s and then set out to join the ultraelite Green Berets. After completing several years of arduous training, he achieved his goal and later earned two Bronze Stars for military service in places ranging from the Philippines to Iraq. In order to realize his aims, he had to meet challenges that included grueling physical education classes at West Point and navigating the U.S. Army bureaucracy. His book makes clear that the route to joining the Special Forces has no shortcuts and that dismissal from the program lurks around every corner, but the experience can bring unique rewards. Writing in a conversational tone, Wong describes the excitement of being an Asian-American in the military: “I stated who I was and that I was there to see Colonel King (cool name by the way—he’s a colonel, and he’s a king).” Although the breezy prose style at times works against a robust understanding of complex situations, the book offers a realistic look at a military institution romanticized by movies and other forms of popular culture. The author seems to have no agenda beyond the obvious: telling the story of a man who tried hard, failed many times but persevered even if the results didn’t always live up to expectations. The author and his comrades in arms spent years perfecting military tactics, at times only to face tedious PowerPoint presentations, indifferent authority figures and arbitrary rules instead of action. Peppered with information on the Iraq War and the U.S. involvement in the Philippines, this book leads an informative expedition into a much mythologized part of the military, headed by an author who’s never been afraid to fail.

Though the writing lacks polish, readers interested in elite military forces could hardly ask for a more honest rendering.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463529499

Page Count: 330

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2012

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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