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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Mullah's Storm--a review

The Mullah's StormThe Mullah's Storm by Thomas W. Young

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you have seen pictures of our troops stationed on the high mountains of Afganistan with nothing but mountain and rocks and dirt around them and were awed by the desolation and isolation and danger, you must read this book. A US plane is hit by a missle immediately upon take-off in a snow storm. It is leaving Afganistan with a full crew, a female Army interpreter, several CIA operatives and a captive,aged mullah who is being spirited out of the country to be interrogated. Many are killed, several are injured and the attackers are going to move in soon to regain their holy man. The commander orders one of the crew and the interpreter to take the mullah and escape. Reluctantly, the man obeys and the three take off on foot through that same desolate, isolated landscape this time in a blinding snow storm with little food and water, a radio, night goggles, and a GPS system and little else.

Unlike many books of this type there are no gigantic moments of heroic action with shootem ups and fast action. Instead, the realism of the narration has the reader as cold and frightened as the characters. The need to move through an area in which the enemy is hidden but all around, an area where the people one encounters may or may not be friendlies, an area where every path followed is boldly imprinted in the snow is what gets your heart racing. When the trio are captured the fear they feel and their expression of it is totally believeable. There are no romantic involvements, no big buddy relationships, just the business of survival and war. This is not to say that these characters are unfeeling robots--the narration is from the perspective of an airman who is a technician, used to flying, who finds himself as warrior and protector in a landscape he has only seen from the safety of a plane high over this terrain. How he feels about this change and how he conducts himself with this new mission is as gripping as the mission itself.

I think the ending had the most impact on me--the fact that after an intense sharing of danger and loss and injury and pain these characters go their seperate ways and will probably never see each other again. Yet they will always remember and so will we. I closed the book and thought I don't know how they can survive such situations and wonder, as our hero does at times, why they occur or how they can in a place so incredibly beautiful.

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