This book tells the stories of our young people, that were sent to remote outposts in Afghanistan, so remote that not only were they undefensable, but they couldnt even get regular shipments of supplies. Sometimes they were lacking even in that most basic of necessity-dinking water. While it was said that the US would not take "half measures", this war in Afghanistan clearly became an afterthought, once the main show got underway in Iraq. It was a half measure from the beginning. These soldiers are fighting the very people who attacked the World Trade Center, yet the main interest was in Iraq. They were spread out so thinly that they could not get any momentum. A unified strategy and Intelligence are clearly lacking. Most of the time they dont even know who they are fighting. They recognize the enemy as foreigners, who come in through Pakistan. Interpreters dont understand the language the fighters speak. This is the very obvious theme of the book- young soldiers sent to fight a war that wasnt the center of attention for the military and government leaders. For me, Another theme became quite obvious. The management structure of our military is antiquated. High level officers have completely free reign to do whatever they want, with absolutely no oversight. Generals can plan missions for a purpose that seems to be to decorate the pages of their year end review, or just to show they are a hardass (at least an armchair). One mission is focused on in detail, to send a large truck to a remote outpost on roads that could barely support a humvee, in an area swarming with fighters, for the purpose as the General says, to show it could be done. Two people died after the road caves in and the truck goes off the edge. One of the dead was an officer of particular high promise, who died attempting to demonstrate a large truck could be driven on mountain roads made for horse-drawn buggys. Prior to the mission, lower level officers who actually had experiece on the ground in Afghanistan, tried to explain the risk of the mission to the general who came up with the idea. The general turned and walked away, rather than to have a serious discussion of his underling's concerns. If this happened in a Fortune 500 company, there would be serious repercussions. The military treats these soldiers as expendables, which not only is a moral outrage, but will be the downfall of our military, as soldiers realize they are expendible, and despite their obvious expertise gained from on the ground experience, their ieas count for nothing. We will lose the best and brightest, the truly heroic, as they are either killed, maimed, suffer from mental illness, or become so disheartened that they decide the military is not the place for them. Corporate management in this country has been transformed into an enlightened syle of management over the past 30 years, where people's opinions are considered based on merit, regardless of rank. The open door policy is commonplace, where management cannot simply turn away whenever underlings want to discuss the merits of a planned action. And most important, the oversight of managers comes both from the bottom up and the top down. In the military it seems the high level officers have an unspoken policy of agreeing not to critique each other's performance. With this antiquated management structure in the military, and the ability of a loose cannon president to do what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld did, to engage in warS with no serious critical oversight, with forward movement fueled purely by the momentum of a heavily politicized foreign policy. It seems to me that if things dont change drastically, this country has the potential to decay just like the Roman empire. This is Vietnam all over again. There is no clear mission. Our young people are sent to remote areas of Afghanistan, to hang out, and serve as targets for the radical muslims of any number of countries. When a persons tour is up, there is no mechanism to capture his learnings. There is no review of the disasters, no attempt to install corective measures, based on the learnings from a study of our mistakes. We always end up being the policemen. We will stay there, suffering the casualites, the deaths, and the injures, the wounds that cannot be seen - mental illness. Eventually it will end just as it does time and time again. We will decide its not worth it. We will leave, and Afghanistan will once again go its own way. I am so sad to see once again, the lives of our young heroes squandered needlessly.
If I wanted to listen to the ramblings of pimply faced pubescent teenagers, I could listen in on my kids phone conversations for free. I don't want to be responsible for contributing to the delinquency of a minor either. This guy thinks he is Jack Kerouac, "drinking steady through the afternoon", "if you will". If this guy was really serious about anything, he would have taken a writing class where they would have warned him about using those tired clichés, let alone stuffing his book full of them. I tried, honestly I did. But after 20 minutes, I feel nauseated. Especially after he starts talking about how he abandoned his wife and young child like it is a bade of honor. If this were my kid, I would send him to the Marines to smack some sense into him. But that's not the case, and poor Lewandowski will have to settle for going through life with the mentality of a 13 year old. Is this really all it takes to write contemporary fiction? Perhaps Lewandowski is aiming at titillating the high school crowd.
This book is a great rebuttal to a book that was written about US secret operations called "Legacy of Ashes", which contended that every single secret operation ever attempted by the US secret agencies since WW2 has ended in failure. Here is the story of a group of men who were the true heroes. They sacraficed their lives without hesitation, answering the call of a President of the US in trouble. The secret mission they agreed to undertake sounds as though it might have been designed by a child after reading too many James Bond novels, and clearly fits the profile of a typical Legacy of Ashes operations. But these men agreed to go on the mission even though they had reservations, and they succeeded, although most sacraficed their lives. Success of this mission was not to achieve some military operations goal in the Korean war, to conquer a hill or assassinate a politician, but rather it was to give the President Truman the information he needed to be able to shut down the people who were pushing for an expansion of the Korean war. Without the information these men paid for with their lives, the war likely would have been expanded, given the domestic political forces in play at the time, pushing for all out anti-communism and invasion of China, an expansion of the war that was still being pushed even after the firing of a wreckless and arrogant General MacArthur, would have resulted in all out nuclear war with China and the Soviet Union. These men sacrificed their lives to provide the President conclusive evidence that China had the means and was preparing for nuclear war with the US, with the help of the Soviets. So listen to this story, a horrific story by any measure that ends with the massacre of the fifty of so men involved in the operation, with only 3 survivors, and after finishing you will want to get that old american flag out of that box in your garage and throw it up on the side of the house. Yes, the US did make mistakes in the ~65 years of american foreign policy and military actions since ww2, but the bad guys were real, and there have been many true heroes who knowingly sacraficed their lives so the rest of us could have the quality of live we now have, and have had since the end of ww2.
These stories from Craig Johnson are the best I have heard. I like the rural setting, and believable, real life characters. The tempo of the story increases as the blizzard sets in, climaxing in a fury of a violent struggle for life at the peak of a blizzard, and a few meetings with Indian ghosts thrown in. The narration is spectacular. I reallly liked the portrayal of the native american characters, Henry and Lonnie. I listen to these stories to keep me from falling asleep when I am driving. This one had my heart pumping. I will surely listen to every one of Craig Johnson's books.
I kept thinking of the beer commercial, "he is the most interesting man in the world". I couldnt force myself to finish it.
A disfunctional family struggling through hard times, as seen throught he eyes of each member of the family. The best story I have listened to all year.
I really got sucked into this book. The setting, the indian lore, all excellent. The twist at the end was enthralling. Great story.
You can figure out the ending early on in the story. After that, the story was predictable. The rash of almost gotya's is too much to take. The sex scenes are too detailed in certain ways. Is that really how women think about sex? Or is she writing how she thinks men thinks about sex? Whatever it is, I didnt find it exciting, but kind of nauseating. The details about flying were incorrect.
I bought this book half thinking that it would be a waste of money, as I thought it would be a slapstick comedy routine. Although the comedy is there, it turned out to be a very touching story with almost zen-like undertones, following the life of an obscessive-compulsive person as he tries to find happiness. I ended up listening to this twice in a row. Steve Martin is a fantastic writer, and the best narrator for hs story.
This is the story of the relationship between LBJ and the Kennedys. LBJ was Texan with a straight forward personality who was brought up from poverty, knew what he wanted, and got it. The Kennedys, born into wealth and prestige, never had to work a day in their lives, with no real focus or overarching goals. If the Kennedys had enlisted the help of LBJ rather than to exhile him from the administration, perhaps JFK's presidency could have been monumental. But the Kennedys were too arrogant to ask for help from Rufus Cornpone. JFK is probably one of the least accomplished presidents of our time, although his loyalists went forth to write book after book, to establish the Kennedy mantra, to synthesize the history of Kennedy for the poor and downtrodden. LBJ is obsessed with civil rights and helping the poor, as a consequence of his upbringing in poor rural Texas. He accomplished more in the 11 days after the assassination than the entire Kennedy presidency. The Kennedys squandered their power on petty hates such as trying to pin something on Hoffa, or assassination plots and coups. RFK says during LBJ period of success with Great Society that it is all the work of JFK. JFK just didnt have enough time. There is a lot here I never heard before. LBJ bringing foreign dignitaries to his ranch to eat spare ribs with no silverware. LBJ, who was in such a manic state after the assassination, that he has to have a cabinet member stay with him until he falls asleep, calling him back several times "I am not asleep yet". The political mechanics of the 1960 nomination explained, as well as how LBJ gets a bill through congress (1964 tax cut bill). What is left out here is Vietnam, because that is the subject of the next book. I was surprised how little was said about Vietnam, especially given that much of the history of the late 60's in Vietnam stems from JFK decisions and involvement in the coup to topple Diem. Absolutely enthralling.
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