An ambitious topic (the United States' presence in Afghanistan and Iraq) receives a surprisingly comprehensive examination through a direct question-and-answer format.
An overview of these war-torn countries' physical and religious make-ups leads to the review of current political instability in the region. The discussion of combat techniques illustrates America's military power, though a nod to numerous international organizations (from NATO to ISAF) conveys the global scope. Double-page spreads address the perceived catalysts for conflict and the United States' accompanying responses (including Osama Bin Laden's recent death). The layout resembles a scrapbook of sorts; varied photos and bold types facilitate the integration of timely facts with military jargon. File folders, torn paper and snapshots conjure up the images of behind-the-scene operations at a military compound. A soldier's daily routine (from work assignments to the latest in weaponry) captures the nuts and bolts of battle. Statistics reveal the Taliban's dire influence on education (only 22% of Afghan women are literate). Throughout, the focus returns to the youngest causalities, describing deployment's stressful impact on children seeking normalcy while bombs detonate nearby or parents serve abroad. An authoritative voice discusses complicated subjects with ease (“Weapons of mass destruction were never discovered”) and leaves an appropriately ambiguous ending as to future American involvement.Despite its slimness, a remarkably effective and timely treatment. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)