Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Battle Heroes: Voices from Afghanistan by Allan Zullo: Book Review
“10 True Tales” series
Battle Heroes: Voices from Afghanistan
Author: Allan Zullo
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2010
Age: 10-13, Middle Grade
U.S. air strikes on the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan began in October 2001, following the September terrorist attack on American soil that killed 3000 innocent people. Called Operation Enduring Freedom, the search was on for the main perpetrator, al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden. Zullo tells the stories of ten (male) brave American war heroes who fought in Afghanistan during the period 2001 to 2006.
Told in vivid, action-packed language, readers are taken into the battlefield where they witness firsthand the events. Dialogue is interspersed throughout to keep the pace lively and real, and readers are not spared learning about the injuries the soldiers endured (some fatal) and the hand to hand combat they encountered. Zullo emphasizes the loyalty of the troops in supporting each other, and also the Afghan soldiers and innocent bystanders who were sometimes injured in battles.
There is the story of Captain Jason Amerine and his fellow Green Berets, who along with untrained Afghans, made a daring stand against the Taliban when outnumbered ten to one. There is Master Sergeant Sarun Sar, who as a boy had endured living in Cambodia under the Communist Khmer Rouge. He lost his family and later immigrated to the U.S., where he joined the military and became the leader of a twelve-man Special Forces team in Afghanistan. He was known for his agility and bravery in battle. There is the story of Brendan O’Connor, who survived a two-day battle and fought bravely, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his service.
Readers learn that many Afghans fought alongside the Americans, even though they could not speak English. Other Afghans supported the Taliban, who were known for their oppression and cruelty to the locals, when fundamentalist teachings were disobeyed. There are interesting descriptions of Afghan scenery and other conditions as well. A timeline would have been helpful in understanding the war itself, but a glossary at the end helps with war terminology.
Much has happened in Afghanistan since 2006, in particular, the death of Osama bin Laden, but Battle Heroes is more of a soldier's story. Readers interested (boys especially) in finding out what modern day warfare is like, will take away a new understanding of the risks and hardships involved, and a respect for the heroes portrayed.
Copyright 2015 © Sharon M. Himsl