Green on blue A novel

Elliot Ackerman

Book - 2015

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Subjects
Genres
War stories
Published
New York : Scribner 2015.
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
242 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781476778556
1476778558
Main Author
Elliot Ackerman (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* When Aziz's older brother, Ali, is hideously injured in a Taliban bombing, the young Afghan must join the Special Lashkar, a U.S.-funded militia, to ensure that Ali is cared for. His brother never far from his thoughts, Aziz learns to be a soldier and dreams of taking badal (revenge) against Gazan, the leader of the Taliban. But as Aziz wonders as he gradually becomes aware of the venality that drives his sector of the war, Is Gazan really the enemy? "For this type of war, the Americans don't have a word. The only one that comes near is racket. Our war was a racket. . . . Now the cause is war for advantage, war for profit, not a future." Soon enough, Aziz also learns that this type of war has no sides; it seems altogether fluid as its participants do whatever promises them financial advantage. Can anything break the cycle of such fighting? Ackerman, who served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, writes with empathy, authority, and integrity, telling an important story that is at once moving and, in its depiction of the futility of war, deeply depressing. Always insightful, the novel brings welcome clarity to the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that often seems incomprehensible; accordingly, Green on Blue belongs on the short shelf of truly memorable books about war. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Ackerman's debut novel, young Aziz Iqtbal and his older brother, Ali, live in the remote agriculture hamlet of Sperkai, Afghanistan, until a mortar round fired by the Taliban leader Garzan destroys their home and family. Left as orphans, the two brothers escape to the nearby city of Orgun, where they scrape by as panhandlers and transporters in the bazaar, until another explosion leaves Ali legless and requiring expensive long-term hospitalization. Aziz agrees to serve in the Special Lashkar, an American-backed local militia unit, in exchange for Ali's medical care. Aziz swears as well to follow the Pashtun tribal code to avenge his crippled brother's honor by fighting against Garzan. Aziz becomes a trained combatant and joins a unit opposing Garzan. While stationed at the firebase near the strategic border village of Gomal, Aziz associates with the corrupt American military liaison known as Mr. Jack and visits the village leader, Atal. An edgy romance emerges when Aziz falls in love with Atal's ward, Fareeda, also damaged by the war. Aziz is thrown into the maelstrom of deceit, greed, and betrayal as the different factions extend the war for personal gain. Ackemna's novel is bleak and uncompromising, a powerful war story that borders on the noir. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

A different perspective on America's war in Afghanistan. Rather than examining themes of ideology or heroic battles, this novel sheds light on the microview, seen through the experience of Aziz, of a young soldier. The focus stays on those most affected—fighters on both sides and those caught in the middle. After his brother Ali is grievously injured in a Taliban mortar attack, the only way Aziz can pay for Ali's medical care is to join Commander Sabir's American-backed anti-Taliban militia. An equally strong motivator is the need to restore his nang (pride) by exacting badal (revenge) against those who injured his brother. Many men in the militia have joined for the same reason; their belief in badal makes it a useful tool for keeping Sabir's ranks full. The protagonist is committed but soon notices unusual connections among Sabir; Gazan, the leader of the opposing Taliban militia; and Atal, a resident of a village that Sabir and Gazan are fighting over. Aziz comes to realize the reason the fighting drags on has almost nothing to do with beliefs held on either side. As he understands the truth, he must make some hard decisions about the role he'll play going forward. The young man's efforts to sort out what he's told vs. the reality in front of him will resonate with teens. VERDICT Readers will appreciate the author's honest, direct, and complex exploration of powerful yet hidden motivations for war, especially because of the work's blurred lines between heroes and villains.—Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA [Page 108]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

A different perspective on America's war in Afghanistan. Rather than examining themes of ideology or heroic battles, this novel sheds light on the microview, seen through the experience of Aziz, of a young soldier. The focus stays on those most affected—fighters on both sides and those caught in the middle. After his brother Ali is grievously injured in a Taliban mortar attack, the only way Aziz can pay for Ali's medical care is to join Commander Sabir's American-backed anti-Taliban militia. An equally strong motivator is the need to restore his nang (pride) by exacting badal (revenge) against those who injured his brother. Many men in the militia have joined for the same reason; their belief in badal makes it a useful tool for keeping Sabir's ranks full. The protagonist is committed but soon notices unusual connections among Sabir; Gazan, the leader of the opposing Taliban militia; and Atal, a resident of a village that Sabir and Gazan are fighting over. Aziz comes to realize the reason the fighting drags on has almost nothing to do with beliefs held on either side. As he understands the truth, he must make some hard decisions about the role he'll play going forward. The young man's efforts to sort out what he's told vs. the reality in front of him will resonate with teens. VERDICT Readers will appreciate the author's honest, direct, and complex exploration of powerful yet hidden motivations for war, especially because of the work's blurred lines between heroes and villains.—Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA [Page 108]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An Afghani orphan loses everything when his village is attacked by militants and must join a U.S.-funded militia to try to save his injured brother, who fell victim to a marketplace bomb.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and White House Fellow, a stirring debut novel about a young Afghan orphan and the harrowing, intractable nature of war.Aziz and his older brother Ali are coming of age in a village amid the pine forests and endless mountains of eastern Afghanistan. There is no school, but their mother teaches them to read and write, and once a month sends the boys on a two-day journey to the bazaar. They are poor, but inside their mud-walled home, the family has stability, love, and routine.When a convoy of armed men arrives in their village one day, their world crumbles. The boys survive and make their way to a small city, where they sleep among other orphans. They learn to beg, and, eventually, they earn work and trust from the local shopkeepers. Ali saves their money and sends Aziz to school at the madrassa, but when US forces invade the country, militants strike back. A bomb explodes in the market, and Ali is brutally injured.In the hospital, Aziz meets an Afghan wearing an American uniform. To save his brother, Aziz must join the Special Lashkar, a US-funded militia. No longer a boy, but not yet a man, he departs for the untamed border. Trapped in a conflict both savage and entirely contrived, Aziz struggles to understand his place. Will he embrace the brutality of war or leave it behind, and risk placing his brother—and a young woman he comes to love—in jeopardy?Having served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Elliot Ackerman has written a gripping, morally complex debut novel, an astonishing feat of empathy and imagination about boys caught in a deadly conflict.