Cover image for Green on blue : a novel
Green on blue : a novel
Ackerman, Elliot, author.
Personal Author:
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, 2015.
Physical Description:
242 pages ; 24 cm
A "debut novel about a young Afghan orphan and the harrowing, intractable nature of war"
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clarence Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Anna M. Reinstein Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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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.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When Aziz's older brother, Ali, is hideously injured in a Taliban bombing, the young Afghan must join the Special Lashkar, a U.S.-funded militia, to ensure that Ali is cared for. His brother never far from his thoughts, Aziz learns to be a soldier and dreams of taking badal (revenge) against Gazan, the leader of the Taliban. But as Aziz wonders as he gradually becomes aware of the venality that drives his sector of the war, Is Gazan really the enemy? For this type of war, the Americans don't have a word. The only one that comes near is racket. Our war was a racket. . . . Now the cause is war for advantage, war for profit, not a future. Soon enough, Aziz also learns that this type of war has no sides; it seems altogether fluid as its participants do whatever promises them financial advantage. Can anything break the cycle of such fighting? Ackerman, who served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, writes with empathy, authority, and integrity, telling an important story that is at once moving and, in its depiction of the futility of war, deeply depressing. Always insightful, the novel brings welcome clarity to the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that often seems incomprehensible; accordingly, Green on Blue belongs on the short shelf of truly memorable books about war.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Ackerman's debut novel, young Aziz Iqtbal and his older brother, Ali, live in the remote agriculture hamlet of Sperkai, Afghanistan, until a mortar round fired by the Taliban leader Garzan destroys their home and family. Left as orphans, the two brothers escape to the nearby city of Orgun, where they scrape by as panhandlers and transporters in the bazaar, until another explosion leaves Ali legless and requiring expensive long-term hospitalization. Aziz agrees to serve in the Special Lashkar, an American-backed local militia unit, in exchange for Ali's medical care. Aziz swears as well to follow the Pashtun tribal code to avenge his crippled brother's honor by fighting against Garzan. Aziz becomes a trained combatant and joins a unit opposing Garzan. While stationed at the firebase near the strategic border village of Gomal, Aziz associates with the corrupt American military liaison known as Mr. Jack and visits the village leader, Atal. An edgy romance emerges when Aziz falls in love with Atal's ward, Fareeda, also damaged by the war. Aziz is thrown into the maelstrom of deceit, greed, and betrayal as the different factions extend the war for personal gain. Ackemna's novel is bleak and uncompromising, a powerful war story that borders on the noir. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

[DEBUT] Among many recent debut novels by Americans who have fought in the Middle East, Ackerman's is distinctive for being written wholly in the voice of a young inhabitant, presenting the region's perspective in all its complexity. Barely more than a boy when his parents are killed as armed forces rush through their Afghan village, Aziz and his older brother, Ali, make their way to a neighboring city and scrape by until an explosion leaves Ali seriously injured. Aziz is assured that his brother will be cared for if he joins a U.S.-backed militia, run by ironfisted Commander Sabir, who consults with an inscrutable American named Mr. Jack while battling Taliban leader Gazan-the very man responsible for the bombing that devastated Ali. This is Aziz's opportunity for badal, or revenge, and he grabs it eagerly, only to discover that he's trapped, forever beholden to Sabir. As Sabir tries to drag in Atal, a town leader who wants to remain neutral, and Aziz finds himself shuttling between Atal and Gazan after committing a dreadful mistake, one realizes the essential error in American thinking: the war is not about ideology but about soldiers settling scores and fighting simply to fight. Verdict Told in a limpid voice, less fiercely lyrical than, say, that of Phil Klay (Redeployment) or Michael Pitre (Fives and Twenty-Fives) but just as absorbing, this illuminating and original work is highly recommended.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

A different perspective on America's war in Afghanistan. Rather than examining themes of ideology or heroic battles, this novel sheds light on the microview, seen through the experience of Aziz, of a young soldier. The focus stays on those most affected-fighters on both sides and those caught in the middle. After his brother Ali is grievously injured in a Taliban mortar attack, the only way Aziz can pay for Ali's medical care is to join Commander Sabir's American-backed anti-Taliban militia. An equally strong motivator is the need to restore his nang (pride) by exacting badal (revenge) against those who injured his brother. Many men in the militia have joined for the same reason; their belief in badal makes it a useful tool for keeping Sabir's ranks full. The protagonist is committed but soon notices unusual connections among Sabir; Gazan, the leader of the opposing Taliban militia; and Atal, a resident of a village that Sabir and Gazan are fighting over. Aziz comes to realize the reason the fighting drags on has almost nothing to do with beliefs held on either side. As he understands the truth, he must make some hard decisions about the role he'll play going forward. The young man's efforts to sort out what he's told vs. the reality in front of him will resonate with teens. VERDICT Readers will appreciate the author's honest, direct, and complex exploration of powerful yet hidden motivations for war, especially because of the work's blurred lines between heroes and villains.-Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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