Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekend Reviews

By Sebastian Junger

From the author of The Perfect Storm, comes a new book detailing the lives of U.S. Army soldiers fighting from the most dangerous camp in Afghanistan. What goes through the mind of a man after a bullet ricochets off his helmet? What type of relationships develop between soldiers who continuously trust their lives to each other? How can these men return to civilian life after living on the front lines? Junger tries to answer these and other probing questions, illuminating the sacrifice and courage demonstrated by those fighting for our country.

The author spent months at a time on the outpost eating the same food, sleeping in the same bunks, and venturing out with the company on missions into enemy territory. His observations give a unique look at these men living in extreme circumstances. It’s a look into what we ask of those protecting our interests and the toll it takes on them physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend this book. Be prepared for the rough language that necessarily accompanies an honest portrayal of Army life. But also be prepared to understand a little better how modern warriors are made.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
By Wes Moore

How are our fates decided? How can one person succeed and another fail when their origins appear to be so similar? These questions are asked in a very powerful way through this dual biography of two boys whose names, family circumstances, and socioeconomic positions are all eerily similar but whose lives lead them in two entirely different directions. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar and the other is sentenced to life in prison. The author summarizes their stories well on the front jack stating “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

In each of the eight chapters, Moore describes events or decisions in both boys’ lives during a single year that led them to their polarized futures. Don’t expect any real answers to what points a kid toward success or failure. What Moore does provide is a very vivid picture of the obstacles young men face as they progress to manhood, especially in our country’s inner cities. Readers gain a timely reminder that our youth need role models and positive influences that give them confidence in their own ability to rise above their circumstances. Moore realizes at one point that “The Expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of our selves.” A powerful message our society undeniably needs.


Emily said...

I saw Wes Moore on Oprah talking about his book and thought it sounded like a good read. I'm glad you liked it...now maybe I'll actually go read it myself.

Mary Ann said...

I just love how you write!