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This is a very exciting, moving and well written book about war in Afghanistan. Although I didn’t serve there, as an ex Airborne Engineer and veteran of many IED search teams, I especially appreciated the amount of research that went into making the story as true to life as possible. Would highly recommend this excellent book.
When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover girls can read, a woman accepts the blame. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby. But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or foes are hard to differentiate. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late. As many of you will know I've reviewed lots of Patricia's children's books in the past, so when she brought out Silent Heroes an adult book this time I asked her if she wanted me to review it and she messaged me saying yes. I got a copy free from Amazon and then set about this remarkable book. Firstly I have to say this book was out of my comfort zone as I don't usually read books about war. However this book grabbed me right from the start and I finished it whilst on holiday in a couple of hours. The story starts off with shocking with the death of a mother who accepts the blame for girls being able to read in the village and the Taliban shoot her for breaking their rules. The story turns to a U.S military base in Afghanistan. Where there is a group of soldiers with trained dogs that can detect mines. The story shows is that even during war different ethnic groups can work together to try and eradicate war. This book was an emotional rollercoaster and without spoiling the story too much of you are thinking of reading this book please be aware that there is a scene where a dog dies out in the field. Patricia has clearly researched this really well before writing this book, and it honours the U.S Marines and villagers spectacularly. The trained dogs the Silent Heroes of war are also given the credit in this book that they too deserve serving the Marines and the people of Afghanistan. I gave this book a well deserved 5 stars. I look forward to reviewing more of Pats books in the future as she never fails to please.
I have been a fan of Patricia’s books for quite some time. The majority of what I have read has been children’s books very much focused around animals. She has a great way of capturing their personalities and characteristics that engages the reader no matter what their age. Silent Heroes is another one of those books… this time they are service dogs based in Afghanistan, but they are not necessarily the main focus. As soon as I saw this book and what it was about, I knew that I wanted to read it as the subject is quite close to me for various reasons. Patricia takes us to a base camp for the American forces and tells the story of a group of soldiers that have service dogs as part of their ranks as they complete several missions including clearing mines and rescuing captured civilians and military personnel. Despite the topic there are some lighter moments that will bring a smile to balance those moments that bring to the front the harsh reality of dealing with the Taliban. I guess we always hear about what happens to the serving members of the forces but not always about the dogs that also risk their lives sniffing out IED’s. It never crosses our minds that they too can suffer from a canine version of PTSD. This book brings that to the forefront of your mind though. After all they witness the explosions and the devastating aftermath that occurs. They too lose loved ones (their handlers). The dogs are an extension of the handler’s family and often bring comfort in harrowing times. What I loved was the fact that the dogs hold a higher rank than their handlers. This just shows how valued they are. Although this is a work of fiction there are truths to it that will tug at your heart. For anyone who has not read one of Patricia’s books then I would recommend this one.
Silent Heroes is the third of Ms Furstenberg’s books I’ve read and I found it a thoroughly engaging, thought-provoking and well-paced read. It is very well researched, with intricate details of the life and work of the American forces based in Afghanistan, and of the Afghan people struggling to survive against the Taliban’s harsh and brutal enforcement of Islamic Sharia law. Taliban bands swoop down from their hideouts in the mountains to mete out their barbaric punishments of villagers. Women, in particular, are targeted, especially those who have attempted to educate themselves or their female children, or failed to wear a burqa in the presence of men outside their family. Sometimes, young boys are snatched from their families to be indoctrinated in Sharia law and trained to become fanatical killers. Such raids are inflicted upon people who are already starving, their once fertile farmland having been claimed by the Taliban to grow their opium poppies – the sale of which funds their ongoing fight against the Afghan government and foreign forces deployed in the country to counter them. A harrowing description of one such Taliban raid in the opening scene gabbed my immediate attention, serving to introduce two of the key Afghan characters in the story, a brave and well-educated teenage girl and her equally brave younger brother. It also leads to the introduction of the main characters in a group of US servicemen and their faithful well-trained and much-loved dogs. The work of the American unit and their dogs largely revolves around the ‘sniffing out’ and removal of IED’s – bombs planted along roads and in fields to kill or maim armed forces and Afghan people alike. It is deadly work for both men and dogs, one that they must cope with on a daily basis, as well as dealing with bands of raiding terrorists, whose strongholds prove very difficult to locate. The relationships and camaraderie between the servicemen and between the dogs and their handlers, is very special and often tear-jerking. Silent Heroes is a book that evokes so many emotions, presenting readers with tragedy, trauma, heartache and pain, homesickness, and incredible courage. The pride the men take in fulfilling their duty also shines through. Characters are realistically and skilfully drawn, coming to life as the story unfolds. The ‘heroes’, both human and canine, are endearing and memorable. The author also succeeds in filtering in the historic and religious reasons for the Taliban activity in a country that has been fought over and war-torn for centuries. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Taliban and the situation in Afghanistan, as well as to anyone who wants a novel with plenty of action and great characters.
What do you know about the war(s) in Afghanistan? This remarkable story of courage, extremism, intolerance, loyalty, betrayal and love will tell you so much. The ‘silent’ heroes of the title are the sniffer dogs employed by American Marines in their hunt for IEDs (improvised explosive devices, if you didn’t know). But this story is about much more than these extraordinary canines. Patricia Furstenberg has clearly done extensive research on the history of Afghanistan, it’s multiple wars, both internal and with invaders from various countries. This is presented through the voices of characters in the story, in several sections. She has also made herself fully conversant with operating methods used by the Marines and the Taliban, their philosophies, and their deeply contrasting views of the value of life. There is much sadness here, understandably. But there is also great bravery, action, and, against all the odds, hope. As a reader who sees books through the eyes of a writer, I found some aspects of the book a little irritating: changes in tense, occasional malapropisms. But these in no way detracted from a story that gripped me throughout. There are passages describing events and locations from points of view that required the author to enter the minds of people she could only imagine. And she does this with quite remarkable success. In particular, an event is described through the eyes of a nine-year-old Afghan boy; the strangeness, unfamiliarity, occasional incomprehension he finds in his temporary environment is pictured with astounding clarity and credibility. Dog lovers will enjoy the passages that describe the work, relationships and dangers faced by the sniffer dogs and their handlers; though, beware, you may need tissues handy. There is shocking material here, violence; the appalling catalogue of cruelty practiced by insanely criminal extremists in the pursuit of power under their distorted interpretation of the Qur’an. It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this book without feeling real empathy for the people of Afghanistan as they attempt to lead ordinary lives surrounded by dreadful cruelty, indiscriminate danger from exploding devices and armed gangsters. The story contains further evidence, if it were needed, that the war on drugs has utterly failed. The only result of such mistaken official policy being the financial reward of terrorists who use the heroin trade to fund their killing sprees. This is sometimes a hard book to read, but it is also a story that uplifts with its portrayal of people who continue to care for others despite the dangers they face every day. A great read.
Helmand Province is considered one of the deadliest regions in Afghanistan. It provides the setting for the fictional village of Nauzad, an area where Taliban insurgents terrorise local villagers, forcing them to grow opium poppies, banning women and girls from learning to read or write, capturing boys and forcing them to fight... The author introduces her readers to the plight of the villagers, after the execution of a well educated mother who sacrifices herself to save her children. A short distance from Nauzad, Forward Operating Base Day is home to a group of marines who battle daily with the changing tactics of the Taliban. A team of Military Working Dogs or MWDs - Tara, Xena, Ramba and Honda, have been highly trained in sniffing materials used in IEDs. Together with their handlers, Seb, Conde, Kent and Dunn, they bravely search roads, fields and paths for new explosive devices, often planted under cover of darkness in areas that families and children frequent. These dogs are treated with the same honour and respect as any other combatant, which is skilfully portrayed by the author. This book is incredibly well researched, and provides many edge of the seat moments, as the marines search for the Taliban's hiding spots in The Hindu Kush Mountains and beyond. Relying on local guides, they put their lives at risk in a country dealing with "displaced people, ethnic tribal and religious rivalry, crime and corruption, malnutrition and disease, and not least, with humanitarian abuse." Highly recommended.
Firstly, a really big thank you to Patricia for getting in touch and asking me to read and review this book. It was a very interesting and great read even though it’s a book based on a hard subject of war.
In this book we follow soldier’s that are serving in Afghanistan with their loyal dogs, who are vital in sniffing out IED’s (buried land mines). I didn’t actually realise how important dogs are in war zone countries. This book has really got me interested in finding out more about their importance in war.
While reading this book I found out some really interesting things about our canine friends. For instance,I never knew that dogs can suffer from a form of PTSD. I also learnt that service dogs are given a higher ranking than their human handlers. This really shows how much they are valued and how important they are.
Although this book is fictional it felt so real. Patricia has done a wonderful job. It’s full of great descriptions. As many of you know I’m not one to get emotionally attached to books but this one definitely had my emotions all over the place. It didn’t quite have me in tears but was very close. Any book that can do that is worth a bonus heart in my rating.
This review doesn’t do this book any justice, BUT it’s such a great read that I really can’t express how much I enjoyed it. If your looking for a fast paced read I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s a definite must read.
This is my first ever military, Taliban, Marines novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is well researched, well written and very easy to follow. It deals with the Taliban invasion of Afghanistan, the helpless villagers, women and children that get caught up in these brutal wars. It also shows the bravery of the Marines and sniffer dogs that help with dismantling IEDs whilst getting injured along the way. Wonderful characters, the Marines, dogs and doctors. Lovely story of little Rafik and his sister who help the Marines locate the Taliban leader. This is the first book I have read by this author, Pat has a wonderful style of storytelling, her passion for the subject shines through in her writing. Just terrific, highly recommend.
Silent Heroes is a thought-provoking story of a Marine K-9 unit serving in Afghanistan. The storyline is graphic and intense, yet, filled with the underlying beauty of the country.
I can not imagine the hours of research Ms, Furstenberg invested in writing such an in-depth book. She crafted every word to evoke the struggles the characters endure. The pacing is excellent. Just when you lose your breath due to the intensity, you are offered a respite through interactions with the elderly, women, and children.
The K-9 members of the unit are equally as important as the humans. Their job is dangerous, deadly, and essential to the survival of all. Each dog’s personality shines through the author’s words.
I learned quite a bit about the history of Afghanistan, and it’s people through the author’s well-crafted story.
This book should be required reading for everyone. I highly recommend this book to fans of fiction, drama, war stories, and history.
Poignant and thought-provoking, Silent Heroes gives readers an up-close and personal look behind the scenes of war in one of Afghanistan’s deadliest provinces. The author skillfully ties together the lives and objectives of a Marine K-9 unit serving in Helmand Province and a local community trying its best to survive as the Taliban’s rampant rule kills, threatens, abuses and uses them for its own sinister purposes. The author does an amazing job weaving the ravages and ruins of war into a beautiful heartrending story that is an eye-opener. Highly recommended! ~ Bette A. Stevens, author of award-winning children's picture book AMAZING MATILDA and other books for children and adults.