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Elliot Ackerman

Green on Blue

Elliot Ackerman Green On Blue
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Main description:

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.

Review quote:

"Green on Blue is harrowing, brutal, and utterly absorbing. With spare prose, Ackerman has spun a morally complex tale of revenge, loyalty, and brotherly love. The saga of young Aziz is a chilling and often disturbing glimpse into one of the world’s most troubled regions."

Review quote:

"If we're looking for answers—and after fourteen years of war we damn well better be—Elliot Ackerman's brilliant, audacious novel is an excellent place to start. For so many years the war has been about "us" and "them," but Green on Blue blows open the standard narrative by showing just how fluid and fraught that distinction can be. If we're tempted to think this war has been simple and clean, Ackerman's unflinching novel should wake us up to the messy, heartbreaking reality of it all."

Review quote:

"This is the best novel of the Afghan-Iraq wars to date, striking a lyrical cord akin and equal in power to Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls. Elliot Ackerman captures both the deep brutality and the innate humanity of the Afghan Pashtun world and its collision with the west in clear, cold strokes. This fearless and pitch perfect first novel is a heart-breaking wonder."

Review quote:

"What makes Green on Blue so brilliantly poignant is Elliot Ackerman's feeling of empathy, his ability to get under his characters' skin, reminding us not only of our vast differences but of our shared humanity.”

Review quote:

Green on Blue is a remarkable achievement, a novel of war, betrayal, love, and honor that feels equally timeless and timely. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn once wrote that the line dividing good and evil doesn’t run between nations, but through every human heart. Elliot Ackerman traces that shifting line with enormous empathy and intelligence."

Review quote:

“Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, has performed that most difficult of all military operations – the achievement of radical empathy. In Green on Blue he has entered the world and the consciousness of a young Afghan soldier, one who is orphaned,impoverished and placed under the obligation of re“With a tension and tenderness reminiscent of Graham Greene,Elliot Ackerman’s gripping novel of revenge and honor deftly reveals the complex machinations of a too often oversimplified war.”

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