Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds
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.

Five-Tour Veteran Elliot Ackerman Charts New Territory in a Charged New Novel, Green on Blue

The Words of War

I Fought at Fallujah. Here's What I Think About When People Ask If It Was Worth It.

Where I Write

Wars of Liberation and Commerce

Praise for the book:  
"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." ~Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

"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.” Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

"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." ~Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

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." ~Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“In all too many accounts of the Afghan War, the Afghan people caught in the cross-fire are rendered invisible. Elliot Ackerman's eye-opening Green on Blue places them front and center, taking us into the life of a Pashtun orphan navigating the impossible choices offered to him by the brutal realities of his war-torn country. An incisive and moving glimpse into the human consequences of decades of conflict.” Phil Klay, author of Redeployment
“Here, in his deeply compelling and poetically rendered first novel, Elliot Ackerman goes where few, if any, western novelists have gone before, deep into the private skin and heart of a young Afghan soldier who began as we all do, as a child. Green on Blue is more than just the page-turner it most certainly is; it is a naked and profound exploration of the ugly futility of war, and it is also one of the finest literary debuts I have ever witnessed. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.” ~Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
"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." ~Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
“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 revenge. In doing so, Ackerman has brought to us a new understanding of the complicated layers within Afghanistan's tribal society, and the penetrating beauty of that country's landscape. This is a brave and impressive debut.” ~Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
"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."
– Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
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