An admiring, inspiring account of how the Army shapes and sharpens the tip of its spear.




A former Navy SEAL takes an inside look at how the Army selects and trains its elite warriors.

Among the American military’s special operations forces none has an older or more distinguished history than the Army Rangers. Couch (Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior, 2007, etc.) takes us briefly through these glittering annals, but quickly focuses on the unit’s modern incarnation, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and its preparation of soldiers for their direct-action mission. A light infantry, mobile assault force that typically fights at night, the rapidly deployed Rangers conduct raids designed to kill or capture the enemy, to disrupt his operations, and to seize objectives like airports or embassies. To accomplish this mission, Ranger candidates, recruited from regular Army volunteers, undergo arduous training and merciless evaluation, all levels of which Couch examines. Granted unprecedented access, Couch follows a Ranger class through to its departure for the battlefield. He liberally sprinkles the narrative with interviews of the candidates and their trainers, paying due attention to the specific skills taught—shooting, breaching, mobility, hand-to-hand fighting, fast-roping, etc.—but focusing even more on a complete picture of the unique Ranger culture. The requisite physical fitness, intelligence, mental toughness, ethical maturity, patriotism and cultural suitability of each Ranger are always subject to proof in a regiment where you “have to earn your Scroll every day.” The peer-review process will strike civilians as brutal, but the Rangers’ candid assessment of their fellows, Couch makes clear, is crucial when lives depend on the creativity, cooperation, stability and reliability of each soldier.

An admiring, inspiring account of how the Army shapes and sharpens the tip of its spear. 

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-425-24758-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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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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