“What can’t these SEALs do?” To hear Denver tell it, when it comes to special operations, hardly anything at all. Good...

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DAMN FEW

MAKING THE MODERN SEAL WARRIOR

A 14-year veteran of more than 200 combat missions reflects on a career training and leading the Navy’s elite warriors.

Thanks to their many conspicuous successes since 9/11, the SEALs are enjoying a golden moment, celebrated in a number of books and films. Though they number barely 2,500, the SEALs’ special skills have proven especially effective in an unconventional terror war, so much so that intense pressure exists now to create more of these special operators, even as the brotherhood attempts to hold the line, fearful of compromising standards and quality. Denver addresses this intraservice controversy, but his story explains why it will take more than a Pentagon fiat to create more SEALs. The fact remains: Few people have the strength, resilience, aggressiveness and mental toughness sufficient to survive BUD/S, their tortuously rigorous entry program, and the subsequent years of advanced training and moment’s notice, high-risk deployments. SEALs come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s impossible to predict who will succeed. With the help of Newsday columnist Henican (co-author: In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything, 2011, etc.), Denver takes us through a few SEAL missions, including the bin Laden raid, the sniping of Somali pirates and some house-to-house operations in Iraq. But his focus here is on the training, the lessons taught—that winning pays, that small details matter, that thorough preparation is essential, that nothing about war is fair—and on explaining the SEAL culture, from the outrageous “van brawls” (don’t ask) and the enduring fraternal network, to the solemn significance of the gold Trident and the unique self-knowledge that comes with being a “meat eater,” a man who’s killed someone on the battlefield.

“What can’t these SEALs do?” To hear Denver tell it, when it comes to special operations, hardly anything at all. Good reading for military buffs.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2479-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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