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All The Young Warriors (Mustafa and Adem) Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Bleeker (the meaning namesake 'bleak' not lost on the casual observer) mourns his partner's passing by fueling his rage across continents, leaving no stone untouched in his quest to rid the world of his personal demon. Accompanied by an unlikely alliance in the form of a local gangster whose son, Adem, has been caught up in the terrorist plight - Bleeker's investigation leads him down a path populated by extremists, pirates, killers, and government officials alike.
All The Young Warriors, for it's graphic depiction of murder and retribution, retains a sense of realism delivered through heart thumping emotion and pulse pounding clarity. The aspects of a world ravaged to ruin and ruled by violence, yet softened by a few kind souls is thought provoking and awe inspiring. Smith has delivered on one of the best books of 2011 with each chapter further evidence of his ability to demand a reader's attention and hold it until the very end. Captivating and utterly essential. 5 stars.
This is a dark, violent book. Smith doesn't shy away from the violence visited on people, especially in Somalia. In Smith's hands, this adds to, rather than detracts from, the story. The book moves fast, and the suspense ratchets up throughout. There is also an authenticity to this book -- I'm not aware that the author visited Somalia for research, but the book certainly reads like he did.
After his outstanding YELLOW MEDICINE and HOGDOGGIN' (not to mention his e-only CHOKE ON YOUR LIES), I'd been eagerly waiting for a new Anthony Neil Smith book -- I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed.
Earlier this year, I read "Crossbones," of which I wrote: "A young man of Somali descent disappears from his Minneapolis home. His stepfather, Ahl, and uncle, Malik, a journalist, travel to Somalia in an attempt to find him and bring him home. This is the post-Blackhawk Down Somalia, before and in the early days of the Ethiopian invasion to drive out the Islamic Courts and restore - with U.S. backing - a more secular government. It is a dangerous country for everyone, particularly journalists and opponents of the Courts. The author takes the reader on a lengthy tour of recent Somali history and politics, Islamic thought in urban and rural Somalia, piracy and fishing disputes, kidnapping as a political and economic weapon, terrorism and bombing, and international relations in the Horn of Africa. The author, Nuruddin Farah, takes too much time dealing with family back-and-forth discussions about their histories and the Somali character, and many of the characters within the family are among the least interesting. Of more interest are the pirates, Shabbab terrorists, and their financial enablers. It's a good read, but not a great one."
"All the Young Warriors" treats essentially the same subject, but in a very different way. Anthony Neil Smith has written an action novel that pairs a burned-out, small-town, Minnesota cop with a former Minneapolis gang-banger of Somali descent to bring back from Somalia the killer(s) of the cop's girlfriend; one of whom might be the Somali's son. Stateside, they battle to form a trusting relationship while working to break the chain of recruitment to jihad of young Somali-Americans living in the nation's heartland. Overseas, they search for the two Somali suspects in terrorist camps of the Horn of Africa. The book also tells the story of the two young men, Jibril, the impulsive, gangsta wannabe, and Adem, a college student searching for his Somali and Muslim roots. beginning with the shooting of two Minnesota cops, the two examine their faith, desire for power and influence, and willingness to kill for their cause, as members of a ruthless militia and as pawns of a gang of pirates who prey on international shipping.
This is a fast-paced, exciting, and thoughtful book that deals with race, religion, nationality, prejudice, vengeance, and culture. It is, however, by no means a perfect book. At different points, the author refers to Somalis and at other Somalians; words that shouldn't be capitalized (such as spring and east)are, while others that should be capitalized (such as Muslim) are not. Most of the characters are well-drawn, but at least one is shockingly off-base, a college international studies director who has little good to say about international students. I worked 22 years for two universities, and never heard anything but total support from ISP staff for their international students, regardless of nationality. While Smith writes powerfully, he's a bit too enamored with the use of three-to-five word phrases rather than complete sentences.
One paragraph does, perhaps, boil down the strife that affects the Somali-Ethiopian conflict that provides the context for this novel: "Why Ethiopia? Because Ethiopians had invaded Somalia, occupied it, and killed indiscriminately. And they were Christian. Now they'd been chased back, but still attacked whenever they felt like it. Same with the Somalis, tit for tat. Mutual hatred. Nothing better to do." And life goes on.
The book alternates chapters between what is happening in Somalia and a Minnesota cop's very personal pursuit of the killer. It's personal because one of the police who was killed was his lover--three months pregnant with his child--and he was in the process of leaving his wife for her. The cop, Ray Bleeker, is not a sympathetic character no matter how much we feel for his loss. He is constantly on edge, a danger to himself and everyone around him, and he goes out of his way to offend. This is quite problematic since in order to track down the killer, he needs the help of Adem's father, Mustafa, the ex-leader of a Twin Cities Somali gang who quit for his son's sake and now works at the Target warehouse! Mustafa is not a person to be trifled with, but in a nice twist, it is the ex-gang leader who is the calming influence in this mismatched duo. Slowly they begin to understand and trust each other enough to start to trace the whereabouts of Adem, whom Mustafa believes to be innocent of the murder, and Jibriil, who he is convinced pulled the trigger.
From Minnesota to Somalia, this is a riveting tale of almost non-stop action that the author never lets get out of control. There are a lot of other memorable characters along the way, but I won't give away any more of the story than I have. This is a book you must read. Smith is quite simply one of the best writers I have ever read, and this is a masterfully told story that will grab both your gut and your heart.
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