HUNTING THE CALIPHATE

An insightful, though often impersonal, exploration of an ongoing conflict.

A dual memoir and military history of America’s war with the Islamic State group.

This book provides readers with what may be the most complete insider’s perspective on the United States’ struggle against the Islamic State group to date. Maj. Gen. Pittard is a graduate of West Point, a former senior fellow at Harvard University, and the former leader of a U.S. task force “to help Iraqi and Kurdish Forces protect the capitals of Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdish Region from the relentless advance of the terrorist ‘army’ of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).” His co-author, Master Sgt. Bryant, enlisted in the Air Force in 1998 after a directionless post–high school period that included a few failed community college classes. Their combined perspectives create a narrative that expertly explains the complexities of Middle Eastern politics and also offers the perspective of the war from the soldiers on the ground. Pittard’s chapters give readers key insights into the geopolitical and domestic factors that complicated American strategies, from competing ethnic and religious groups to contentious behind-the-scenes conversations with American politicians, such as U.S. Sen. John McCain. One section that particularly stands out is Pittard’s discussion of the difficulties locating “trained moderate Syrian rebels,” whom American politicians were eager to assist. Alternately, Bryant’s passages relate the intensity and terror of the battlefield in a flavorful vernacular (“the hours eked by”) that’s absent from Pittard’s lessons on Middle East politics. The book also tells the story of the rise of “strike cells” to hunt and killing Islamic State members, which combined ground forces with airstrikes, directed from remote operations centers—and represented a new phase in U.S. military history. The two men provide a shared skepticism of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, intermittently critiquing both of them throughout the book. Pittard, for instance, asserts that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “diplomatically outmaneuvered” Obama to become a central player in the region following the American president’s reluctance to intervene in Syria—even after it was proven that Bashar Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. Emphasizing the point of view of troops on the ground, Bryant critiques American politicians who seemed to have placed “not just the lives—but the perceptions of the Afghan people above the welfare of U.S. warfighters.” His accounts are also peppered with implicitly orientalist descriptions of the Middle East, however; at one point, for example, he describes Kandahar as “a Mad Max version of civilization—trying to copy the West, but not quite getting it right.” That said, in one of the book’s more introspective sections, Bryant reflects on his own biases after observing joyous Muslim families at a shopping mall in Bahrain. Similar contemplative passages are rare, though, leaving readers without valuable insights into the physical, mental, and spiritual tolls of war, which are common in military memoirs. Also, although both authors introduce readers to their families, the impact of the war on their loved ones’ lives is equally elusive.

An insightful, though often impersonal, exploration of an ongoing conflict.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64293-055-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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

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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