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Green on Blue    by Elliot Ackerman order for
Green on Blue
by Elliot Ackerman
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

A young Afghan boy, Aziz, and his older brother witness an attack on their village and afterwards try to survive as orphans. Then Aziz must join a militia to save his brother, who has been badly wounded in an attack by Afghani militants. As he learns how to fight and use weapons, he also finds out that U.S.-backed militias are fighting against rival Afghans who themselves are benefiting from U.S. resources. Many of his comrades do not see a way out of this, and Aziz comes to understand the price he must pay to keep his brother safe.

It is very important to understand certain phrases and terms used here. A green on blue attack is one where Afghan soldiers attack U.S. forces. Green on green attacks - clashes between rival Afghan groups - play a significant role in this harrowing tale. In this culture, a person's honor is his nang. If a person's nang is challenged, he must take badal, revenge. In times of war, this concept can be extra hard to live by. Though this is very well explained and shown in the progress of the story, somehow this reader felt, especially at the beginning of the tale, that the author was assuming more knowledge than this reader had.

The author has plainly experienced what it is like to try to exist in this bewildering but explosive world. The events depicted in all their detail are horribly real. The book is dedicated to 'two Afghan soldiers who, consumed by their war, will likely never have a chance to read it.' Though much is made of the fact that a Westerner has tried to get inside an Afghani, to this reader the important thing is that the author has been able to capture, and very well, the real plight of these people and to bring to light the complexity, futility and hopelessness of their situation.

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