Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) coming of age

[[ Audiobooks ]] The Mirror Test Author J. Kael Weston –

A frustrating, safe book Frankly, by 2016 it wasn t all that shocking to say the Iraq War was a bad idea and to hear that American hubris was largely to blame for its failure The book does alright through talking with people about their experiences what makes this frustrating is that this meandering, self congratulatory book desperately needed a editor and a compass The first two thirds of the book are worth reading but, by 2016, there s nothing new here the last third feels like it was a way to write off some travel expenses as the author traveled around America and decided toor less go off on tangents wherein the voice gets weirdly regaled with trivia about, say, Leadville, Colorado while pointing out he got a medal but he s no hero this is the second book I ve read where someone attached to a Marine Corps unit writes in a way approximating that they were in the Marine Corps, The Silence of War was another and gushing creepily about the Marine Corps. Almost 16 years after they started, America has yet to have any kind of reckoning with its wars in the Greater Middle East, particularly the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan In part this is because the wars are still raging, despite the fact that most people have tuned them out But it is also because it is hard to think of a way to fit these conflicts within a comforting national mythos What were any of these wars for What in particular what was the war in Iraq for What sort of meaning can be taken out so much unimaginable suffering and destruction that has given no clear benefit to anyone, including Americans Kael Weston was a State Department official who served seven straight years in both wars, embedded on the front lines of Anbar Province in Iraq and Khost in Afghanistan The books that he s written about this time is one of the best books I ve read about war generally and undoubtedly the best I ve read about America s current conflicts Unlike a lot of American military writers Weston actually cares about the perspective of the Iraqis and Afghans and includes them as equal parts of the human drama of the war, never failing to mention that they have suffered and continue to suffer most of all He also is a sincere admirer of the U.S forces he is embedded with, many of whom tried to live up American ideals despite their young ages and difficult circumstances Weston is generous and compassionate towards all those he writes about, and seems genuinely tormented by the suffering of both the civilians he befriended as well as the soldiers he embedded with As a State Department civilian he did not carry a gun, but needed as much luck as any soldier to survive living on the frontlines in Fallujah and Khost and being shot at nearly everyday His book is remarkably humane and the only hatred he expresses is reserved for the neoconservatives and Bush administration officials whom he blames for destroying the lives of millions as a result of these conflicts His recollection of being unable to answer Iraqis again and again when they asked him what Iraq had to do with 9 11 seemed to have planted the seed of this anger, as well as the unnecessary suffering he saw on all sides along with that.The writing in the book is very heartfelt and compelling and I breezed through the 500 pages in just a few days But part of this was also due to the author himself, who comes across as a very admirable and fair minded person Weston is a sincere believer in America s professed higher values and is also painfully aware of the crimes that have caused cracks in the mirror of America s sense of self His writing provides invaluable firsthand reporting from his time as a political officer embedded in Fallujah and Khost and gives a voice to the local people and individual soldiers whose stories are rarely mentioned in the larger histories of the wars His deep admiration for the U.S Marine Corps was quite moving and made me want to learnabout the Marines as well He is a real humanitarian, which is rare There have been many wars in modern history, including many that have been bloodier than Iraq and Afghanistan But what is uniquely painful about these conflicts is that so few people in America seem to even care or notice what is going on, nor do they notice much the suffering of others over the past decade or even their own countrymen who served as soldiers As such, Americans are generally mystified about where ISIS or Donald Trump came from, not bothering to see the connection between reckless and cruel events in the past that have not ended and their current malaise In this book, Weston holds up the mirror to the United States over these wars In doing so he helps provide the first step towards an honest and accurate reflection on everything that has been wrought over the past decade and a half, good and bad The resulting book is a really unique accomplishment, one of the most heroic pieces of firsthand writing I ve ever read I sincerely believe that if there wereAmericans like Weston who sincerely believed in their national ideals and strove to live up to them, things would have ended up so terribly over the past few years. Some books you read are mirrors, causing you to reflect Some are windows into other worlds, cultures, time periods This book is both In its capacity as a window, the book offers readers a view of Afghanistan and Iraq at war as seen through the eyes of a U.S State Department official battlefields, forward operating bases, a civilian help center, a potato factory turned morgue, meetings with tribal leaders, in convoys, across deserts, in schools, homes Weston spent seven consecutive years there He got to know the Marines his tribe and the people in the region intimately The book is filled with novel esque scenes and characters and settings Horror and hope The best parts of the book, in my opinion, are when Mr Weston is describing the day to day execution of the war, its toll on the troops, and the struggles to help the Afghans and Iraqis It is a filtered view, to be sure, but an important one The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that the book seemed to suffer from narrative sprawl at times I wish it had beensuccinct and focused I think it would have made the messagepowerful More teachable I could actually see using this book in a middle or high school classroom While sections like the Spirit of America and the history of the small hometowns were informative and interesting, they seemed to dilute the overall narrative I m not sure descriptions of Oscar Wilde being lowered into a mine shaft were necessary Perhaps it should have been two books At one point, Mr Weston remarks that writing a blunt book about Iraq and Afghanistan would be avaluable public service that taking on a high level job in the Pentagon or State Department I agree This is an important book that should be read, especially by politicians and policy makers Weston offers up a challenge to look in the mirror A mirror that is most certainly crack d from side to side I have lived long enough to know that our representatives elected and otherwise will never face fully or take responsibility for what they did i.e invading Iraq on the pretext of looking for weapons of mass destruction It is the little people who suffer and die for their hubris, their mistakes. DIdn t like this book quite as much as I expected It s an account by a State Department official who served in Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of 7 years There are a lot of remarkable moments and anecdotes in this book, but there s also an excessive amount of reckoning about America s actions in the past 15 years and griping about politicians and generals The book could have been a lot tighter He also develops a number of points about these conflicts to about 40% of an argument I would have liked to hear him flesh out his argumentscompletely Weston is right that we need to reckonwith these 2 wars and how we have fought them and who has and has not sacrificed, but that point doesn t make this a great book Nevertheless, it was interesting to see what a State Department official did in these conflicts I d still recommend Dexter Filkins The Forever War as an astounding journalistic memoir account of these wars. An eloquent and heartfelt memoir of a diplomat turned warrior And a humble warrior who is dismissive of his work and deeds Weston served as the Department of State DOS rep in some of the most violent places in Iraq and Afghanistan Not the typical posting for a young DOS employee He interfaced with the big decision makers as well as the lance corporal on patrol and the average Afghan or Iraqi He wanted to make a difference He wanted to make it better His decisions led to the deaths of those around him, friends Marines, Iraqis, and Afghans He feels guilt He feels powerless He was in war zones for seven consecutive years And it took him another six years to expiate himself with this book I don t think you can ever fully forgive yourself He shouldn t feel guilty but he was there He pressed for decisions Men died He is too hard on himself Fate is the final arbiter especially in aviation mishaps We used to joke that theyou fly theyou die He ends up making pilgrimages to the final resting places in the USA of the 31 Marines killed in a helo crash while on a voting mission in Western Iraq The mission the Marines didn t want to fly but he insisted had to be done.This should be on the Marine s reading list If you are a Marine you need to read this book The Marine Corps cast its spell on Weston as it has on many prior to him He should be an Honorary Marine But this book is not about glory but about sacrifice and decision making It could be called an anti war book The disillusionment of seeing the best of intentions result in unintended consequences The frustration of your advice and observations being disregarded or filtered Watching a bad situation grow worse because of a lack of political will or disregard and disrespect of local culture It s all here as well as the attempt to find peace by visiting veterans and their families who have suffered It s a travel or road trip book too And it s a biography as we learn about him growing up in rural Utah Weston had a lot to say and I think he said it He s an able chronicler of the chaos around him as well as the beauty and spirit of place and humanity. Fact 1 I am not a US Citizen neither am I Afghan or Iraqui Fact 2 I live and always lived in Central AmericaFact 3 Im not a big non fiction readerWhy those facts I put them here because If one of those were the contraire I would be a logical and potential reader of The Mirror Test As it is not the case, I have to say marvelous situations brought me to this book, so I bought an e copy fromand started it.J Kael Weston wrote a marvelous book, the book is divided in three big sections and a epilogue 1 The Wrong War 2 The Right War 3 Home Epilogue After War I have to say the first two sections are my favorite, both are so vivid that when you read them is hard to believe you are reading non fiction You are there and you can t stop turning pages and get surprised about what you are reading J.K Weston is a person of a great personality and deep thinking, a humanitarian, that you can tell from his decisions and opinions through the book My reason to mention this is because one of the main reasons I get motivated to read non fiction once in a while is that I always look forward to the learning experience, a conversation with a great mind, this author doesn t dissapoint you in that sense, you learn a lot.I have to mention Home was my least favorite section, maybe is because it was afar from the wars and the unknown the adventure, the danger , however that doesn t mean it is bad As I like jogging I can relate it with that moment after a long run when you walk to relax, you still have the adrenaline, but is time for a reflexion, the real Mirror Test for America with his big population, big and small graveyards, shopping malls, museums and cities.Were this a fiction book I d probably give 4.4 stars to it a very honest rating , however I personally think it requires a lot of courage to write about the things he wrote about in this book This is an important book, and even if it was not written to talk about my country or a war where my country is fighting I believe is a must read for anyone who has a bit of conscience for this world. A solid first hand account of a diplomat working on the battlefronts of Iraq and Afghanistan He gives us great detail and a sense of place of the quagmires of both countries struggle between American soldiers and their enemies His criticism of American policy and strategy is based on his experience, but lacks a sense of history He worked closely with Iraqi and Afghan troops and leaders, yet I gained little insight into their perspectives and desires for their country The writer never learned the native language nor did he convey a sense of their culture and desire for their nations future Thus, the book lacked the opportunity tocompletely educate the reader on the issues and the politics of these countries. A Deeply felt, sincere account of war time in Iraq Afghanistan Detailed and intense with subtleties that had me rereading passages several times A scathing review of our nation s foreign policy with both parties subject to fair criticism A difficult but enlightening read. J Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the State Department He saw up close and personal what it cost the U.S lack of national policy has cost our country in terms of treasure, international standing and most of all in lives Iraqi lives, Afghan lives and our brave service members This is an accounting of his experiences and a plea to evaluate and remember the longest war Do we recognize the country that we have become And how does the world see us after Iraqi and Afghanistan Why I started this book Severely wounded warriors and all patients have a point in their healing when they must look in a mirror for the first time and see their unfamiliar face Their face that they remember is gone and they must deal with the new reality Some can t and that s why it s called the Mirror Test Weston challenges us as a nation, to look in the mirror and see what Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom has done to us, to our service members and to the world Why I finished it This is not a book to be read quickly or lightly It demands consideration and time I cried thru the whole audio Weston mentions by name, and hometown all Americans that he served with that didn t return alive Powerful, and a wonderful book for Memorial Day weekend I also loved all the literary quotes that he included in his book I will be recommending this to all who know someone who served, have any interest in political science, or consider themselves patriotic Weston argues that we owe our service members, Iraqi citizens and Afghan citizens to think about these wars THINK real hard And it will be the greatest service if we think about the next war before we start it, not a decade into fighting it Buddy Read Playing to the Edge American Intelligence in the Age of Terror Hayden advocated enhanced interrogation, claiming that it saved American lives Weston refutes these claims, as he had to listen to those who spent years in Gitmo and then were released with no explanation or apology. A Powerfully Written Firsthand Account Of The Human Costs Of Conflict, The Mirror Test Asks That We As A Nation Look In The Mirror And Address Hard Questions About America S Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan J Kael Weston Spent Seven Years On The Ground In Iraq And Afghanistan Working For The State Department The US Government Sent Him To Some Of The Most Dangerous Frontline Locations Upon His Return Home, Traveling The Country To Pay Respect To The Killed And Wounded, He Asked Himself How And When Will These Wars End How Will They Be Remembered And Memorialized What Lessons Can We Learn From Them Questions With No Quick Answers, But Perhaps Ones That Might Lead To A Shared Reckoning Worthy Of The Sacrifices Of Those, Troops And Civilians Alike, Whose Lives Have Been Changed By Than A Decade And A Half Of War With A Novelist S Eye, Weston Takes Us From Twenty Nine Palms In California To Fallujah In Iraq, Khost To Helmand In Afghanistan, Maryland To Colorado, Wyoming To New York City, As Well As To Out Of The Way Places In Iowa And Texas We Meet Generals, Corporals And Captains, Senators And Ambassadors, NATO Allies, Iraqi Truck Drivers, City Councils, Imams And Mullahs, Afghan Schoolteachers, Madrassa And College Students, Former Taliban Fighters And Ex Guantanamo Prison Detainees, A Torture Victim, SEAL And Delta Force Teams, And Many Marines The Overall Frame For The Book, From Which The Title Is Taken, Centers On Soldiers Who Have Received A Grievous Wound To The Face There Is A Moment During Their Recovery When They Must Look Upon Their Reconstructed Appearance For The First Time This Is Known As The Mirror Test Here, Like Grains Of Sand, Weston Gathers These Voices And Stories Iraqi, Afghan, And American And Polishes Them Into A Sheet Of Glass, One He Offers To Us As A National Mirror What Neil Sheehan SA Bright Shining Lie Did For Vietnam, The Mirror Test Does For Iraq And Afghanistan An Unflinching And Deep Examination Of The Interplay Between Warfare And Diplomacy, It Is An Essential Book A Crucial Look At America Now, How It Is Viewed In The World, And How The Nation Views Itself