SAVING BRAVO

THE GREATEST RESCUE MISSION IN NAVY SEAL HISTORY

A well-conceived work of military history dissecting a seemingly minor episode that still speaks volumes.

A taut study of the largest military search-and-rescue operation in history and the lessons learned.

Talty (The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History, 2017, etc.) has a fascination for grim moments under seemingly impossible odds, as with the story that would eventually become the movie Captain Phillips. The yarn he spins here was already made into a movie three decades ago, the Gene Hackman vehicle Bat*21, recounting the harrowing experience of an Air Force navigator shot down over Vietnam in the late days of the war. Iceal “Gene” Hambleton (1918-2004) was one of the most experienced officers in the business, a master of signals intelligence whose capture by the North Vietnamese would probably have led to a strategic and propaganda victory not just for them, but also for the Soviet agents who were tracking him. Thus it was that when Hambleton’s plane went down under enemy fire, the commanders in Vietnam assembled “an armada of fighter planes, B-52s, attack helicopters, Navy aircraft carriers” to extract him from the field—to say nothing of soldiers, sailors, aviators, Marines, and special forces troops. As Talty recounts, for 11 days these allies raced against equally determined North Vietnamese troops to locate Hambleton, sometimes coming up against each other; among the costs of these extraordinary measures were the deaths of nearly a dozen airborne troops. Too young for service at the time, the author shows informed appreciation for military culture and the workings of war. As he writes, knowingly, “the men at Da Nang that spring would have loved to fight for values like freedom and liberty on behalf of a grateful republic. But as it was, their leaders were feckless, their country had forgotten them, and their allies rarely felt like allies….All they had, many airmen felt, was their unbreakable bond to one another.”

A well-conceived work of military history dissecting a seemingly minor episode that still speaks volumes.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-86672-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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