Entertaining, no-nonsense balancing of legends and martial reality.

NAVY SEALS

THEIR UNTOLD STORY

Developmental narrative of the esteemed Navy SEALs, co-written by a former member.

Couch (Always Faithful, Always Forward: The Forging of a Special Operations Marine, 2014, etc.) and Doyle (A Soldier’s Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq, 2011, etc.) co-authored this book as a companion to a PBS documentary: “It is our effort to tell the story of a remarkable elite fighting force and its ancestors.” The SEALs’ legendary improvisational toughness, write the authors, started with the underwater demolition teams in World War II. The UDTs were hasty responses to the horrific Tarawa landings and played a significant role in both theaters, clearing Axis beach obstacles under fire. The SEALs were formally established in 1962, after President John F. Kennedy "encouraged the Pentagon to beef up counterinsurgency and Special Operations forces.” Couch narrates his own tour-of-duty experience during Vietnam rescuing POWs from a prison camp, terming such missions “a tribute to the professional culture that was emerging in the SEAL Teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s.” Yet the SEALs’ fighting autonomy caused controversy; as one recalled, “part of the Navy saw us as some sort of quasi-criminal element.” The counterterrorism-oriented SEAL Team 6 formed in 1980 and fought in the Grenada invasion, the chaos of which led to the consolidation of the U.S. Special Forces Command. After this, “they morphed into professional, well-drilled, experienced, responsible operators” who were ready for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Couch and Doyle precisely depict many missions, including the famed rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and the killing of Osama bin Laden. They focus on SEAL history and tactics and their embrace of obscure technologies and weaponry while emphasizing that in the Special Forces, "Navy SEAL training is the longest and, arguably, the most difficult."

Entertaining, no-nonsense balancing of legends and martial reality.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0062336606

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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

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