And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
As a fan of Khaled Hosseini’s books, I jumped at the chance to read his latest novel. The author once again delivered a gem of a book with vignettes woven into a complex tapestry of the nation and culture that is Afghanistan. Hosseini has arguably done more than any other author redefining contemporary Afghanistan beyond the caricature of a tragic, war-torn mess. His previous bestsellers, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, paint a colorful portrait of a haunting land misunderstood by many.
His latest is a departure from his tried-and-true formula of writing epic stories that bring to life the rich culture and heritage of the Afghan people. Set in far-flung locales from California to France and Greece, And the Mountains Echoed takes readers to new places and realities. Although the author tried to depict life in the United States and Europe, he merely whetted my appetite to read more about Afghanistan. His homeland is where his pen spills mastery onto the page.
Hosseini detoured from his almost-mythical stories of Afghans who persevered under the most difficult of circumstances toward the frailty and flaws of human nature. And the Mountains Echoed offers more shades of gray than its predecessors. The moral hazards and ambiguity in his characters come to life in fateful decisions that lead to pay-off or penance as their choices affect others whose lives they touch…and their own. The morality tale the author spins may leave readers used to rooting for his typically heroic figures wanting. Those expecting this book to be another Afghan epic may be disappointed.
I laud Hosseini for departing from his previous works and breaking new ground. Though I wished at times while reading the book that it was more like what he is best known for, I appreciated his determination to write something different. It adds to his standing as one of today’s best writers of historical fiction. If you’re a fan of his books, you can’t go wrong once you understand that this novel is different from the rest. I give And the Mountains Echoed four stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
And the Mountains Echoed is now available at:
No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
Mark Owen’s account of the Navy SEAL raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) is a powerful, must-read account. In spite of the uproar over whether Owen’s book violated secrecy laws and that trust of the U.S. Government and military, it’s a gem of an autobiography that anyone, from SEAL fans to those who want to know the truth about OBL’s killing should read.
Given the amount of media leakage that occurred following the raid, including revelations of the SEAL’s involvement hours after the attack and identification of the author’s real name in the media, it’s understandable why Owen wanted to set the record straight after watching the media spin fanciful stories of what happened. The uproar against a retired SEAL who legally vetted the text for sensitive information is hypocritical given that no public action has been taken against anyone currently in uniform or serving in the administration who have leaked far more revealing information about the decade-long pursuit of OBL.
I definitely recommend this book and give it high marks — 5 stars. Better the truth from one who was there than the spin provided by the administration, by Hollywood through movies such as the upcoming “Zero Dark Thirty,” or the media’s talking heads. That Owen tried to honor his fellow SEALs who put their lives on the line without the recognition they deserve day in and day out and is donating proceeds from the book to charities that support SEAL families is an added bonus.
No Easy Day is now available at: