The Tender Soldier by Vanessa M Gezari
A True Story of War and Sacrifice

78%

5 Critic Reviews

Gezari eschews humor but delivers a gripping report on another of America’s painful, surprisingly difficult efforts to win hearts and minds.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A “sharp-eyed look at the complexities of war” (Parade), that explores the inner workings of the Human Terrain System, a Pentagon program that sends civilian social scientists into war zones to help soldiers understand local culture.

On the day Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, a small group of American civilians took their optimism and experience to a village west of Kandahar, Afghanistan. They were part of the Pentagon’s controversial attempt to bring social science to the battlefield, driven by the notion that you can’t win a war if you don’t understand the enemy and his culture. The field team in Afghanistan that day included an intrepid Texas blonde, a former bodyguard for Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and an ex-military intelligence sergeant who had come to Afghanistan to make peace with his troubled past. But not all goes as planned.

In this tale of moral suspense, journalist Vanessa Gezari follows these three idealists from the hope that brought them to Afghanistan through the events of the fateful day when one is gravely wounded, an Afghan is dead, and a proponent of cross-cultural engagement is charged with his murder. Through it all, these brave Americans ended up showing the world just how determined they were to get things right, how hard it was to really understand a place like Afghanistan where storytelling has been a major tool of survival, and why all future wars will involve this strange mix of fighting and listening.

Vanessa Gezari is the only journalist to have gained access to the lives of people inside this troubled Army program, including the brilliant, ambitious figures who conceived it. This true story of war and sacrifice will upend your ideas about what really went wrong in Afghanistan.
 

About Vanessa M Gezari

See more books from this Author
Vanessa M. Gezari holds the James Madison Visiting Professorship at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has written for The Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, and others. She lives in New York.
 
Published August 13, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 369 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Tender Soldier
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 19 2013

Gezari eschews humor but delivers a gripping report on another of America’s painful, surprisingly difficult efforts to win hearts and minds.

Read Full Review of The Tender Soldier: A True St... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by James Dao on Aug 27 2013

It is a testament to the book’s strengths that it left me wanting more. Why, for instance, did Ms. Loyd — a punk-rock-loving, anti-establishment civil-rights enthusiast — enlist...But over all, Ms. Gezari’s book powerfully humanizes the ways the counterinsurgency effort played out in Afghanistan.

Read Full Review of The Tender Soldier: A True St... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 22 2013

Readers get a sobering feel for the difficult task of waging a war on foreign soil, as well as the travails of hardworking and often brilliant individuals struggling to change enormous political and social systems for the better. Nuanced, readable, and utterly engrossing, Gezari’s exposé is a revelatory and unique look at the war in Afghanistan.

Read Full Review of The Tender Soldier: A True St... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by HOPE LANDSEM on Aug 13 2013

Ms. Gezari portrays AF4's activities in Maiwand, along with the Human Terrain System as a whole, as well-intentioned but tragically misguided...Ms. Gezari is deeply skeptical that the Army's experiment can fulfill the objectives imagined by the soldiers and scholars who created it.

Read Full Review of The Tender Soldier: A True St... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Brigitte Frase on Aug 17 2013

“The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice” unfortunately is as messy as the war it depicts. Individual life stories flit by, and the government agencies involved become a confusing drone; I gave up trying to figure out which bureau was in charge of what.

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Reader Rating for The Tender Soldier
70%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 26 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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