MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A woman plays the hero in a new military thriller set in Afghanistan. Author Tom Young served there and in Iraq as a flight engineer for the Air National Guard. His novel, "The Renegades," is set in a war-torn Afghan province and the air space above it.
Alan Cheuse has this review.
ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: The renegades of the title, a heretofore unknown band of mad dog Islamists, led by a sword-wielding leader nicknamed Chaaku, have split off from the Taliban to wage vicious war against the Western coalition forces and their local allies.
After an earthquake hits the already troubled region around Mazar-i-Sharif, Chaaku and his men attack one of the military hospitals set up to help the wounded and they slaughter without mercy - patients, doctors, and nurses, foreigners especially, and taken number of young boys captive to train them as child soldiers.
While Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson flies in with a helicopter crew he's advising to assist the survivors, Pashto-speaking Sergeant Major Sophia Gold is finishing up her Special Ops Forces parachute training at Fort Bragg. Within days, Major Gold flies to Afghanistan to assist Parson in a hunt for the vicious Taliban splinter group. And before too long, because of her language skills, she takes the lead in an attempt to kill or capture the monstrous renegade murderers and rescue their child captives.
This military procedural, told with clarity and straightforward narrative skill, brings a reader as close as he or she can get to the field of the Afghan war without coming into harm's way. It's a book as thrilling as any of Tom Clancy's or his imitators, and makes us much more mindful than they ever do of the human toll of the war.
BLOCK: Alan Cheuse, with his review of the novel "The Renegades" by Tom Young. Alan's most recent book is a trio of novellas called "Paradise."
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