A gung-ho yarn of modern war that also clarifies the resilience of Afghanistan’s tribal culture.

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THE LION OF SABRAY

THE AFGHANI WARRIOR WHO DEFIED THE TALIBAN AND SAVED THE LIFE OF NAVY SEAL MARCUS LUTTRELL

Pulpy retelling of a notable Afghan war flash point from the perspective of the Pashtun tribesman who saved wounded Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

Prolific author Robinson (Honor and Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Navy SEALs Who Captured the "Butcher of Fallujah"—and the Shameful Ordeal They Later Endured, 2013, etc.) previously co-authored Lone Survivor, made into a 2013 film, about Luttrell’s ordeal. Here, the author re-examines the fierce firefight against numerous Taliban fighters that claimed both Luttrell’s three peers and a helicopter-borne rescue mission via the story of Mohammed Gulab, based on interviews conducted via interpreter. Though the overall narrative is familiar, Robinson develops it via a lesser-known facet of the war: the fiercely independent mountain tribes that tried to avoid both Taliban and American entanglements. Gulab notes at the outset, “God spoke to me that day and said I must give protection to this man...under the Pashtunwali rules that guide our lives.” This decision surprised his village and Luttrell and infuriated the Taliban, resulting in a tense series of standoffs before a covert, high-tech rescue mission arrived for Luttrell and his unlikely protector. Remarkably, it took years for Luttrell, who credits the tribesman with saving his life, to find Gulab again. Robinson tries to rectify that by telling his story, emphasizing Gulab’s bravery, the respect accorded to his family by his tribe, and his credentials as a genuine warrior who started as a child soldier fighting the Soviet occupation—not to mention the fact that Gulab “liked this tall Special Forces operator a great deal more than he cared for the rough, sneering gangsters” of the Taliban. Robinson sincerely discusses the inscrutable, honor-bound, ancient Pashtun society and warrior code that guided Gulab. However, the book suffers from repetitive observation and a sometimes excessively macho tone (“It was as if everyone was involved in this rescue, if not physically, then with their fighting hearts and steel-rimmed willpower”).

A gung-ho yarn of modern war that also clarifies the resilience of Afghanistan’s tribal culture.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1798-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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

NIGHT

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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