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A West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, and Army Ranger recounts his unique education and struggles with the hard lessons that only war can teach. One haunting afternoon on Losano Ridge in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney and his infantry platoon were caught in a deadly firefight with Al Qaeda fighters, when a message came over the radio: one of his soldiers had b A West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, and Army Ranger recounts his unique education and struggles with the hard lessons that only war can teach. One haunting afternoon on Losano Ridge in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney and his infantry platoon were caught in a deadly firefight with Al Qaeda fighters, when a message came over the radio: one of his soldiers had been killed by the enemy. Mullaney’s education,the four years he spent at West Point, and the harrowing test of Ranger School, readied him for a career in the Army. His subsequent experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford couldn’t have been further from the Army and his working-class roots, and yet the unorthodox education he received there would be surprisingly relevant as a combat leader. But despite all his preparation, the hardest questions remained. When the call came to lead his platoon into battle and earn his soldiers’ salutes, would he be ready? Was his education sufficient for the unforgiving minutes he’d face? Years later, after that excruciating experience in Afghanistan, he would return to the United States to teach history to future Navy and Marine Corps officers at the Naval Academy. He had been in their position once, not long ago. How would he use his own life-changing experience to prepare them? Written with unflinching honesty,The Unforgiving Minute is an unforgettable portrait of a young soldier grappling with the weight of his hard-earned knowledge, while at last coming to terms with what it really means to be a man.


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A West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, and Army Ranger recounts his unique education and struggles with the hard lessons that only war can teach. One haunting afternoon on Losano Ridge in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney and his infantry platoon were caught in a deadly firefight with Al Qaeda fighters, when a message came over the radio: one of his soldiers had b A West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, and Army Ranger recounts his unique education and struggles with the hard lessons that only war can teach. One haunting afternoon on Losano Ridge in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney and his infantry platoon were caught in a deadly firefight with Al Qaeda fighters, when a message came over the radio: one of his soldiers had been killed by the enemy. Mullaney’s education,the four years he spent at West Point, and the harrowing test of Ranger School, readied him for a career in the Army. His subsequent experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford couldn’t have been further from the Army and his working-class roots, and yet the unorthodox education he received there would be surprisingly relevant as a combat leader. But despite all his preparation, the hardest questions remained. When the call came to lead his platoon into battle and earn his soldiers’ salutes, would he be ready? Was his education sufficient for the unforgiving minutes he’d face? Years later, after that excruciating experience in Afghanistan, he would return to the United States to teach history to future Navy and Marine Corps officers at the Naval Academy. He had been in their position once, not long ago. How would he use his own life-changing experience to prepare them? Written with unflinching honesty,The Unforgiving Minute is an unforgettable portrait of a young soldier grappling with the weight of his hard-earned knowledge, while at last coming to terms with what it really means to be a man.

30 review for The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    In honor of Veteran's Day I chose this book to spend time with, allowing reflection on the sacrifices and challenges faced by our serving military troops. In this case it was a young man who had learned at home first to give of his best and later at West Point (not to mention Oxford). His account of his military education and then experiences in Afghanistan are wonderfully open and vividly portrayed. His adjustments in returning home are also frank. In this soldier's case we are able to see him t In honor of Veteran's Day I chose this book to spend time with, allowing reflection on the sacrifices and challenges faced by our serving military troops. In this case it was a young man who had learned at home first to give of his best and later at West Point (not to mention Oxford). His account of his military education and then experiences in Afghanistan are wonderfully open and vividly portrayed. His adjustments in returning home are also frank. In this soldier's case we are able to see him through to a marriage and a job teaching history at Annapolis strangely enough. A safe harbor, thank God.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    I liked getting the perspective of a West Point cadet, an Oxford scholar, and Afghanistan-stationed soldier. Craig Mullaney is not your average soldier (at least, not the idea of an "average" soldier I have in my head). After all, how many soldiers can say they spent time as a Rhodes scholar? Mullaney's intelligence comes through this book, especially in his choice of chapter epigraphs from the likes of Shakespeare and Dante. He ruminates about the notions of courage and bravery and what it take I liked getting the perspective of a West Point cadet, an Oxford scholar, and Afghanistan-stationed soldier. Craig Mullaney is not your average soldier (at least, not the idea of an "average" soldier I have in my head). After all, how many soldiers can say they spent time as a Rhodes scholar? Mullaney's intelligence comes through this book, especially in his choice of chapter epigraphs from the likes of Shakespeare and Dante. He ruminates about the notions of courage and bravery and what it takes to lead a platoon in war. We need more books that tell us what life as a soldier is really like. The writing is solid and journalistic. But I wasn't a big fan of the length and how the book was arranged. At 375 pages, it ran a little long. It's an all-inclusive account from his first year at West Point to when he leaves the Army. The time span is not all that long, only a few years, but at times the detail was exhaustive. The book is arranged in chronological order. I would have preferred to be taken into the action of Afghanistan first, and then have flashbacks to various points in his Army training. Set up that way, I think a lot of the extra detail would have been unnecessary. The information about Oxford is interesting, but I think that's where the story sags. The storyline with his father could have been developed more. I got the sense that his relationship with his father was what drove him the most. Mullaney says how he feels, but I didn't get the depth that I wanted. There's a lot of "telling" in this story. That's all well and fine, but since Mullaney drew upon his journals to write this story, there's more recounting than there is of scene. I found myself most drawn to Mullaney's accounts of Ranger training, because I have no idea what goes into the making of a soldier. I cannot imagine ever undertaking anything like that, so I admire those who have been through it. I also was drawn to his romance with Meena. I'm typically not a sap, but I found myself rooting for him since his early pursuit of Meena was no slam dunk. I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't know much about what goes into the making of a soldier but wants to learn. I agree with Mullaney that the media doesn't give us much information about our soldiers, and that's a shame. This book helps rectify that situation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    The title of Mullaney’s autobiographical account refers to a passage from Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! Craig Mullaney has written a thoroughly compelling account of his passage through West Point, graduate work at Oxford, and platoon leader in Afghanistan, a turbulent, but growth-filled period of his life. Frequently, I found myse The title of Mullaney’s autobiographical account refers to a passage from Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! Craig Mullaney has written a thoroughly compelling account of his passage through West Point, graduate work at Oxford, and platoon leader in Afghanistan, a turbulent, but growth-filled period of his life. Frequently, I found myself wishing that I had read this book when I was a young teenager. It paints a more realistic picture of war than most of what I read then (actually a relatively small part of the book), but at the same time, I was drawn deeply into his heart as he prepared himself to live out his deeply felt values about honor, leadership, love, and loyalty. He is flawed, as he is only too willing to admit, and his reflections about his mistakes is are sometimes searing in their honesty. On the whole, though, it was a tremendously motivating account, as we see a talented young man who exerts himself every minute of every day to make the most of himself. I recommend this book highly to anyone embarking on a military career or to anyone leading others in any environment, military or otherwise. It digs deep into what I consider to be the most important aspects of leadership – the fundamental values of compassion, commitment, and self-sacrifice that underlie the best of leadership anywhere. He ends his book with an appeal to his brother that might as well be a paean to leaders everywhere: “Gary would have his own unforgiving minutes, I feared, but what mattered was that he fill those minutes with “sixty seconds of distance run.” And just as important were all the hours of demanding preparation before the unforgiving minute: the education and training, the running and marching, the deliberate planning married to decisive action. His men expected no more than everything he had; they deserved no less. Yet the only way Gary would be able to measure success would be to look in the mirror.” If my students embrace these truths, they will have learned what is most important about leadership.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    I just finished The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education by Craig M. Mullaney this evening as I rode the stationary bike. In an attempt to understand Jack’s world, I have been drawn to books about military life. Typically this means reading books about military wives, but for some reason this book felt appropriate. It follows Mullaney as he enter West Point, studies at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and ends up in Afghanistan post-9/11. You see him grow as a member of the Army and read about t I just finished The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education by Craig M. Mullaney this evening as I rode the stationary bike. In an attempt to understand Jack’s world, I have been drawn to books about military life. Typically this means reading books about military wives, but for some reason this book felt appropriate. It follows Mullaney as he enter West Point, studies at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and ends up in Afghanistan post-9/11. You see him grow as a member of the Army and read about the military academy culture in the beginning. You suffer through Ranger school with him and imagine the grueling exercises and pressure. You sigh with relief when he gets a bit of a break to travel and study in England. And finally, you tear through the pages where he experiences combat, and what it means to be a leader in the field. Mullaney seems like a decent guy, and he puts a lot of his thoughts and emotions out there for the reader to see. He’s certainly no stereotypical meathead, and even spends some time trying to reconcile his studious side with his physical, rough side. Overall, you get a good picture of the kind of person who works hard and tries to set an example for others, but has the same fears and worries too.

  5. 5 out of 5

    George Siehl

    Mullaney provides an engaging story of military and life education starting with his life as a cadet at West Point, the following two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and his rugged education and training in Army courses to gain Airborne and Ranger designations. He recognizes many things that qualify as education for a well rounded person: photography, travel, wines, cooking, and dressing properly as a civilian. Viewing life through a viewfinder, he found, provided him with new perspectives Mullaney provides an engaging story of military and life education starting with his life as a cadet at West Point, the following two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and his rugged education and training in Army courses to gain Airborne and Ranger designations. He recognizes many things that qualify as education for a well rounded person: photography, travel, wines, cooking, and dressing properly as a civilian. Viewing life through a viewfinder, he found, provided him with new perspectives and revelation of finer details than he would otherwise experience. These educational components he gained outside the classroom from friends, mentors, and experience, that is to say, from life. He writes movingly about the employment of his military education while serving as an Army platoon leader in Afghanistan. The tactical skills taught and practiced in West Point and his later training courses were tested quickly in combat. So were the moral precepts of military command and leadership, primary among which is the responsibility of taking care of the men the he led, "earning the salute," as he phrases it. In the field, and later, he recognizes the desirability of being able to relate to the Afghan people as individual human beings instead of a potential threats. The specific conditions, however, make that a platonic ideal, however. He notes, for instance, that during a fierce battle on Losano Ridge near the Pakistan border, his troops were coming under fire from our presumed ally, and he was unable to fire back, in return. During that engagement, one of the men in his platoon was killed, a haunting event which caused him to blame himself for some time afterwards. The theme of education is not coincidental. Mullaney is not only a warrior but, a scholar as well. The latter is indicated by the literate quality of his writing. He points out that his time spent in Oxford after graduation was sometimes denigrated by his Army colleagues and superiors. A charming aspect of his education is his meeting and falling in love with an American-born young woman of Indian heritage while at Oxford. This love story becomes a continuing thread throughout his book. She proves an adept an inspiring teacher in her own regard, leading him into the study of Indian culture and the Hindi language. This is a book well worth reading. One looks to Mullaney and his coming of age account with respect for his service, and appreciation for the sharing of his story. For those who would like to pursue the nexus of West Point, the teaching of literature, and America's conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, an excellent choice would be Elizabeth Samet's "soldier's heart." It is a poignant account of this West Point English instructor's interactions with cadets in the classroom and their later correspondence with her after they were commissioned and deployed to the war zones.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    Combat leaders know that the day may come when one of their own whom they've trained with for months may get killed. Life isn't guaranteed for anyone, but some volunteer to be in harms way and when that moment comes everyone will react slightly different. The author shares his Leadership experiences and all that led up to that moment when that day came with the lives of his men hanging in the balance. The part I most enjoyed in this book was his being selected for the Rhodes Scholar program and s Combat leaders know that the day may come when one of their own whom they've trained with for months may get killed. Life isn't guaranteed for anyone, but some volunteer to be in harms way and when that moment comes everyone will react slightly different. The author shares his Leadership experiences and all that led up to that moment when that day came with the lives of his men hanging in the balance. The part I most enjoyed in this book was his being selected for the Rhodes Scholar program and studying in Oxford. I personally think Members of the Military always need to expose themselves to education programs that take them well outside of their standard paradigms. Mullaney portrays this contrast quite dramatically between his experiences in WestPoint, Airborne, Ranger School and followed by the more classic education in Oxford. His experiences there sound more like a Gentlemen's finishing school, where he learned to appreciate a different side of life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gus Gochnour

    Great overview of a dynamic soldier. From his time at West Point, to being a Rhodes scholar at Oxford to firefights in Afghanistan, the author tells the story of what goes into the making of a soldier. Both the actual physical training but more importantly the psychological and philosophical attributes one must develop to actually become a leader. Loved the history and literature lessons scattered throughout.

  8. 4 out of 5

    William Gorman

    This is an incredible story of a soldiers journey from his education through his end of service. There is much to be gained by reading this regardless of your military knowledge. You become immersed in the difficult decisions made during chaotic battles, feel the weight of losing your men on the battlefield, and get a sense of what PTSD is and the guilt of coming back to the mainland. All of this, and more, really put into perspective some of the sacrifice that goes into service in the military. This is an incredible story of a soldiers journey from his education through his end of service. There is much to be gained by reading this regardless of your military knowledge. You become immersed in the difficult decisions made during chaotic battles, feel the weight of losing your men on the battlefield, and get a sense of what PTSD is and the guilt of coming back to the mainland. All of this, and more, really put into perspective some of the sacrifice that goes into service in the military. I am grateful for this perspective and for the service and sacrifice of the author.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    The Unforgiving Minute is about the training of Captain Craig Mullaney, U.S. Army. Craig starts out at West Point as part of training to be an infantry officer. He does the usual path of West Point and Ranger school, but also takes a detour, to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. And then to find out if the training was right, be leads men in battle in Afghanistan as part of the American effort in Operations Enduring Freedom. Two underlying questions: First, was the best leadership education that the Uni The Unforgiving Minute is about the training of Captain Craig Mullaney, U.S. Army. Craig starts out at West Point as part of training to be an infantry officer. He does the usual path of West Point and Ranger school, but also takes a detour, to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. And then to find out if the training was right, be leads men in battle in Afghanistan as part of the American effort in Operations Enduring Freedom. Two underlying questions: First, was the best leadership education that the United States Army could devise sufficient for bringing us into a different kind of war then we had prepared for. Second, does the finest liberal arts education in the world make a difference in what is sometimes called the graduate school of war. The first part of the book looks at his training. Military training at West Point, Airborne School, Ranger school, Infantry Officers Basic Course. And it contrasts with his time in Oxford. Each type of education brings its merits. The stress put into military training was attributed to instill attention to detail and precision in action, even when under stress. Such discipline would be needed in a battle, when your duty must be done perfectly even under the worse conditions, or it would mean someone's death. The education and habits of thought at Oxford provide the ability to think critically, and to grasp the overall picture and understanding where details fit in the overall scheme of things. And it comes together at the end, where Craig is now teaching the next group of young officers-to-be, and he has the opportunity to put everything together as best he knows how. Another aspect that made this book unique was how it was in the context of something else. All of us have lives, even soldiers. And much of the book had as background his family life, his relations with his father, mother and siblings, and his courtship and marriage of his wife. All in a context of an Army whose members believe that it is only one part of a full life. And the parts intrude on each other. Not just the interference in time due to duties, but all the ways that it affects the plans of life into the future. One scene near the end was poignant. Before his wedding, he went to Arlington Cemetery with his fiance. I remember doing the same, walking through the area with the newest graves from the time I was in Afghanistan with my fiance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    After reading Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, American Sniper by Chris Kyle, and The Operator by Robert O'Neill I was really hoping The Unforgiving Minute would be something different. If I had read another account of a soldier going through Hell Week as part of their training, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish the book. Thankfully, Craig Mullaney's book is different, very different, in many great ways. The book is basically a memoir of the author's life from a young boy up to his departing After reading Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, American Sniper by Chris Kyle, and The Operator by Robert O'Neill I was really hoping The Unforgiving Minute would be something different. If I had read another account of a soldier going through Hell Week as part of their training, I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish the book. Thankfully, Craig Mullaney's book is different, very different, in many great ways. The book is basically a memoir of the author's life from a young boy up to his departing the military. Along the way it's also a love story, a story of one man's quest not to just hone himself into a better weapon but into a more knowledgeable all around person, travelogue, and more. Most stories written by veterans seem to focus first on their intense training and then their endurance during war, almost as if they are competing with each other to see who is the toughest. That is not the case here. Instead it's a pretty intimate look as the author goes from West Point, to being a Rhodes scholar and studying in England for two years, then to war, and then returning home and trying to make a life after. It's autobiographical and the author has no qualms about stating his weaknesses and guilt. It's not Pro-War in the post 9-11 Toby Keith song kinda way, it is infact very respectful of other cultures and religions. The only part I didn't care for was the author recounting of his life with his father. I understand the author can't just skip over his home life, but the father goes from this classic blue collar dad loved his by family to an adulterer shunning and being shunned by his family. It seemed in-congruent at times and I think the book would of been better if the author had stated what happened, stated how it made him feel, and then left it alone. Instead of coming back to it and painting the picture of how so much had changed with his father's departure. Overall though, a very enjoyable read with it's down to Earth humbleness. The book is not afraid to ask some hard questions, to talk about fear and loss, and so a tip of my hat to the author.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Craig Mullaney grew up in South County, RI, graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School, attended West Point and Ranger School, studied at Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, and served in Afghanistan after 9/11. This memoir of his experiences in West Point and beyond is an evolving self-portrait of an intellectual young man who is strong of heart, mind and body, and who earns our respect as we watch him struggle to succeed at becoming a soldier, a scholar, and a man. The Unforgiving Minute has r Craig Mullaney grew up in South County, RI, graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School, attended West Point and Ranger School, studied at Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, and served in Afghanistan after 9/11. This memoir of his experiences in West Point and beyond is an evolving self-portrait of an intellectual young man who is strong of heart, mind and body, and who earns our respect as we watch him struggle to succeed at becoming a soldier, a scholar, and a man. The Unforgiving Minute has received many honors and awards, was included on the Military Times list of best military books of the decade, and has been chosen as the Reading Across Rhode Island selection for 2011. My favorite passage: " Although I knew I wouldn't be recalled from Oxford before completing my degree, 9/11 directly impacted the path my career would take after I finished my studies. A week later, while I camped on a small island near Fiji, the tribal elders invited me into their thatched hut to watch CNN with them. "What will American do?" they asked. I had been asked about the military before in my travels, but my answers had always been academic. Now it was personal. It was apparent the moment President Bush promised to hunt down the perpetrators. I knew in my gut that this wasn't going to mean a cruise missile strike. There would be boots on the ground - one day, my boots." p. 169 And another: "Most Americans had no idea we were still fighting in Afghanistan. After 9/11, they had been told to "go shopping." And they did. Apart from the less than 0.5 percent of Americans in uniform, most people continued with their daily commutes, picked up the dry cleaning, and mowed the lawn. What if, instead, Americans has been asked to sacrifice? Would I have patrolled with unarmored pickup trucks? Someone else fought the war "over there." When the war intruded on the nightly news, it was easy to change the channel." p.339

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A better title for Captain Mullaney's "The Unforgiving Minute" would be Professor Mullaney the Intellectual goes to War. I am a reader who usually enjoys war narratives, and 'experiencing' things and places through books. However, I thought the book was heavy on boring detail, and the interesting parts could have been done in short story format. The pages and pages of details about such minor things as meals, weather, clothes, cooking, boring recounted conversations, haircuts, whatever, all shoul A better title for Captain Mullaney's "The Unforgiving Minute" would be Professor Mullaney the Intellectual goes to War. I am a reader who usually enjoys war narratives, and 'experiencing' things and places through books. However, I thought the book was heavy on boring detail, and the interesting parts could have been done in short story format. The pages and pages of details about such minor things as meals, weather, clothes, cooking, boring recounted conversations, haircuts, whatever, all should have been greatly condensed. Nothing really happens until at least 1/2 way through the book, except the author's education at West Point and time spent at Oxford...nice, but really not interesting enough to recount to the world in book form. In fact, very little happens in the second half of the book. The author does part of a tour, and then spends the rest of his time behind a desk. There must be thousands of other soldiers who had more interesting tours of duty, sacrificed more, and were braver than the author. This guy just happened to be one of the few who wrote a book, and somehow managed to get it published. After finishing the last boring page, I felt like I deserved some sort of civilian purple heart for making it to the end. West Point and Oxford aren't life experiences; they're building blocks, which Craig was supposed to build toward an Army career. thought his take on West Point was cliche. Sure it was hard. Sure you never got laid. Sure you loved your country. So tell me something I didn't expect or know. His take on Oxford came across as naive and dull. We argued, we laughed, we drank beer. So what. The best part of the book was Afghanistan. With that said, the death of O'Neal seemed more like a plot point for self analysis than true anguish. A well-written read but not much special or memorable about it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I read this book over the long holiday weekend. I found it strangely compelling and much better than I expected. A relatively simple memoir of a soldier who happens to be about my age (late 20s, early 30ish,) the books covers his journey and eventual deployment as an infantry lieutenant in Afghanistan after 9/11. Mullaney is an interesting author however, he came from a squarely blue collar New England family that I found easily to relate to. His family didn't have a history of military service a I read this book over the long holiday weekend. I found it strangely compelling and much better than I expected. A relatively simple memoir of a soldier who happens to be about my age (late 20s, early 30ish,) the books covers his journey and eventual deployment as an infantry lieutenant in Afghanistan after 9/11. Mullaney is an interesting author however, he came from a squarely blue collar New England family that I found easily to relate to. His family didn't have a history of military service and he joined well before 9/11 so it was interesting to see his take on why he joined. Further making the narrative interesting was the fact that the author was obvious an intelligent young adult. He finished second in his West Point class academically and then went to England on the Rhodes Scholarship. Using that to travel around the world he hears about 9/11 in a small village in New Zealand. He is soon in Afghanistan leading a platoon when he is still in his early 20s. Most the books actually covers his training before the war, which I found very interesting. Officer training takes smart people and pushes them very hard over many years. Seeing the very different culture (from a normal college,) these kids are in and what they think/talk about was very interesting. His ruminations on whether how he was disturbed about how easy violence seemed even in training were interesting too. All in all I thought it was a great book to read to see a different take on a lot of the world events that unfolded around our country in the last decade.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    A West Point graduate (2nd in his class), Army Ranger, Rhodes scholar, world traveler, veteran of Afghanistan, and history professor at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Mr. Mullaney has plenty of interesting material for this autobiography. I never knew what it took to be a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, and was really impressed by the discipline and hard work required. This glimpse into the life of a soldier really opened my eyes and gave me a new respect for the men and women who do these A West Point graduate (2nd in his class), Army Ranger, Rhodes scholar, world traveler, veteran of Afghanistan, and history professor at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Mr. Mullaney has plenty of interesting material for this autobiography. I never knew what it took to be a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, and was really impressed by the discipline and hard work required. This glimpse into the life of a soldier really opened my eyes and gave me a new respect for the men and women who do these hard things every day. His description of battles in Afghanistan and what it is like to loose a soldier in combat (his 'Unforgiving Minute') were especially thought provoking. Mullaney's writing style is perhaps a little too cold and factual in this book. For example, when describing his 'wooing offensive' of his future wife, I couldn't really tell if he was chasing her because he really liked her, or if he just picked someone at random to chase. Towards the end of the book he does a much better job of sharing his feelings about events, rather than just the events themselves, but he could have done this throughout the book, and done a better job of it overall. However, despite the somewhat stiff writing style, I enjoyed the content of the book too much to take off any more than 1/2 a star, which left me rounding up to 5.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Eloquent, engaging, enchanting, emotional. So much for my "e"literation of this powerful and compelling personal memoir. It takes its title from Chapter 29, page 279; a title which attracted me to place it on hold at my library several months ago. So after several months of patiently waiting it arrives and I am initially disappointed. I am going to have to wade through a personal narrative starting at Plebe Summer West Point. Been there, done that. However, once starting I quickly realize that t Eloquent, engaging, enchanting, emotional. So much for my "e"literation of this powerful and compelling personal memoir. It takes its title from Chapter 29, page 279; a title which attracted me to place it on hold at my library several months ago. So after several months of patiently waiting it arrives and I am initially disappointed. I am going to have to wade through a personal narrative starting at Plebe Summer West Point. Been there, done that. However, once starting I quickly realize that this initial third and longest part of the book labeled "Student" is easily the best part of the book. The second part "Soldier" is superb. This is not so much a book about combat but a book about life and how to live it with passion and zest and to treasure it. Conflict and coping with it or resolving it not only on a geo-political/tactical scale but on a personal level with peers, seniors, family, and subordinates is a constant theme. I almost feel like a member of Craig's family after reading this. He communicates an intimacy and honesty but still manages to keep some secrets like all of us. I'll be buying this book and recommending it to patrons at my library. It's easily in my top ten for military memoirs.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I normally do not read anything in the military genre mostly because it's just too hard to read. I saw Craig Mullaney on The Daily Show and the interview was compelling enough that I checked the book out from the library. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/ind... This is an exceptional book. Mullaney writes about his time at West Point, going to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and leading a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan, all before he turned 25. The book follows through with his life after war - ge I normally do not read anything in the military genre mostly because it's just too hard to read. I saw Craig Mullaney on The Daily Show and the interview was compelling enough that I checked the book out from the library. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/ind... This is an exceptional book. Mullaney writes about his time at West Point, going to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and leading a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan, all before he turned 25. The book follows through with his life after war - getting married, joining the Old Guard at Arlington Cemetery, teaching history at a Navel school and sending his little brother off to war. An incredibly written book, I was moved to tears more than once. While I never assumed any of the American soldiers are stupid, I never ever realized the extent of training that they go through and the intelligence they have to have in order to survive combat and make things run smoothly. All while usually being shot at. That's pressure that the majority of folks are never going to encounter. I still am not a fan of military books, I highly recommend reading this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A true story written of the experiences of a Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. There is not as much war as one might expect but rather life's experiences. I loved, laughed, and cried as I read this book. Thinking objectively I suppose this book will be more meaningful to those who have lived this life or one similar, to have had these experiences. If it can be read will an open heart it will help those who have never served in the military understand the service per A true story written of the experiences of a Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. There is not as much war as one might expect but rather life's experiences. I loved, laughed, and cried as I read this book. Thinking objectively I suppose this book will be more meaningful to those who have lived this life or one similar, to have had these experiences. If it can be read will an open heart it will help those who have never served in the military understand the service person's life, love of country and commitment to freedom. I have the thought perhaps it can be understood that these unique individuals value your freedom more than their life. It also illustrates the high level of education and intellectual achievement many military person's have. I loved the book, I marked it as I did because I know some just won't be able to grasp this level of personal commitment some made to serve others. Please read it and enjoy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sheehan

    Well written autobiography, chronicling the life of an Officer's life in the Army and personal growth associated with leading men into battle. The book made me continue to re-evaluate preconceived notions I have about the military. Oral histories and autobiographies, this one especially, provide a depth of understanding of the individual experience that is lost in a lot of the more polemical books I have read about war in general. Yes, war is wasteful, often engaged in lightly by those in power an Well written autobiography, chronicling the life of an Officer's life in the Army and personal growth associated with leading men into battle. The book made me continue to re-evaluate preconceived notions I have about the military. Oral histories and autobiographies, this one especially, provide a depth of understanding of the individual experience that is lost in a lot of the more polemical books I have read about war in general. Yes, war is wasteful, often engaged in lightly by those in power and for the "wrong reasons", but in the end they are also all populated by individuals. Books like this which parse out the individuals definitely problematizes my opinions and leaves me feeling compelled to keep reading more to understand the motivations that make a military milieu. Just what a good book should do...pick it up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    MaryHelen

    This beautifully written biography was a learning experience for me. The author detailed his life experiences as the child from a working-class family, a West Point cadet and graduate, an Army Ranger school graduate, a Rhodes scholar who earned two masters degrees at Oxford, an Afghanistan veteran of firefights and other challenges, and finally as a teacher of history at the U.S. Naval Academy. It is humbling to realize how dedicated our professional soliders must be and how complete is their ed This beautifully written biography was a learning experience for me. The author detailed his life experiences as the child from a working-class family, a West Point cadet and graduate, an Army Ranger school graduate, a Rhodes scholar who earned two masters degrees at Oxford, an Afghanistan veteran of firefights and other challenges, and finally as a teacher of history at the U.S. Naval Academy. It is humbling to realize how dedicated our professional soliders must be and how complete is their education toward the goal of military leadership. Still a young man in his 30s at the time of this book's publication, Craig Mullaney has written a poignant memoir that is full of life lessons and a spirit of service.

  20. 5 out of 5

    BookSweetie

    A clearly written, emotionally and culturally revealing memoir of one self-disciplined person's young adult experiences as he pursues a military career. Not only does Mullaney attend West Point, he also pursues Ranger training, becomes a Rhodes Scholar (studying at Oxford before and after 9/11), and then serves in Afghanistan. Mullaney, a Catholic Rhode Islander, includes his emotionally complex father-son relationship as well as his interfaith challenges winning over his future wife (a medical A clearly written, emotionally and culturally revealing memoir of one self-disciplined person's young adult experiences as he pursues a military career. Not only does Mullaney attend West Point, he also pursues Ranger training, becomes a Rhodes Scholar (studying at Oxford before and after 9/11), and then serves in Afghanistan. Mullaney, a Catholic Rhode Islander, includes his emotionally complex father-son relationship as well as his interfaith challenges winning over his future wife (a medical student/doctor) and her Hindu-Indian-American family. At the back of the book, the author identifies three organizations "to support the troops": Fisher house, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, and Veterans Northeast Outreach Center.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James

    Destined to be a classic - this is a powerful, eloquent, and enlightening book. Knowing a fair amount about the rigors of some of his training, I am humbled by Captain Mullaney's ferocious drive and toughness, although his recounting of events includes his failings and mistakes as well as his successes and is sometimes hilarious at his own expense. From the perspective of middle age, I'm also humbled at the degree of wisdom he has somehow reached in his 20s. I hope to see more books from him, as Destined to be a classic - this is a powerful, eloquent, and enlightening book. Knowing a fair amount about the rigors of some of his training, I am humbled by Captain Mullaney's ferocious drive and toughness, although his recounting of events includes his failings and mistakes as well as his successes and is sometimes hilarious at his own expense. From the perspective of middle age, I'm also humbled at the degree of wisdom he has somehow reached in his 20s. I hope to see more books from him, as well as to see him play a prominent role in public life in other contexts now that he's left the military, and I hope this book gains the wide readership it deserves.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    5-stars. I loved this book. Craig's journey from West Point to graduate studies, to leading men as an infantry officer, to courting a spouse from a different culture are all experiences I could relate with intimately. I know most of the mentors Craig mentions and felt proud to see how they mentored and influenced Craig. Craig's love of history and literature shape his view of the world and his leadership role - I wish I could have learned this at his young age. Instead it took me twenty years to 5-stars. I loved this book. Craig's journey from West Point to graduate studies, to leading men as an infantry officer, to courting a spouse from a different culture are all experiences I could relate with intimately. I know most of the mentors Craig mentions and felt proud to see how they mentored and influenced Craig. Craig's love of history and literature shape his view of the world and his leadership role - I wish I could have learned this at his young age. Instead it took me twenty years to realize their true value. I look to see where Craig goes after his assignment with USAID.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Chin

    Gives you a perspective on a soldier's life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kyle C. Dunham

    A thought-provoking bildungsroman and memoir of a West Point graduate and soldier-scholar who goes to battle in Afghanistan. I found the account riveting in parts, especially his recounting of his West Point days and ranger school training. His time at Oxford was mildly interesting. The author’s prose is engaging and descriptive. There are, however, several shortcomings in the book. The narrative is long; there are many extraneous details that might have been omitted to tighten the story. Second A thought-provoking bildungsroman and memoir of a West Point graduate and soldier-scholar who goes to battle in Afghanistan. I found the account riveting in parts, especially his recounting of his West Point days and ranger school training. His time at Oxford was mildly interesting. The author’s prose is engaging and descriptive. There are, however, several shortcomings in the book. The narrative is long; there are many extraneous details that might have been omitted to tighten the story. Second, the author indulges in self-aggrandizement at points throughout the narrative. He seems to focus primarily on the times he won, finished first, or received an award of some type. That is not to say that the author lacks introspection or even honesty about moments of self-doubt. It coincides rather with one of the features that I find distasteful in memoirs. The author/subject is always right, always takes the best path, always does the honorable thing. Autobiographies usually lack objectivity and drive me toward a greater degree of skepticism about the author’s claims. Lastly, I found distracting the author’s incessant “daddy issues.” He constantly resorts to the fact that his father left his family, although this occurred after Mullaney had more-or-less finished his college and graduate work. I am not indifferent to emotional pain. But the author belabors the point such that the reader wants to cry out: “Enough! You’re a soldier now. You need to let it go.” On the whole, I found the book to be interesting and well-written. It is probably one of the better accounts to emerge from the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    This book was the selection for the campus-wide shared reading experience at my daughter's college a few years ago, and I picked it up and added it to my "to read" pile when I was cleaning out her closet. After a day's reading, I was left with the feeling that compared to Craig Mullaney, I have wasted every moment of my life since about age 9. Total waste. I've accomplished nothing, and I never will. Sigh. So, unless you were also an outstanding example of young humanity-- excelling in academics This book was the selection for the campus-wide shared reading experience at my daughter's college a few years ago, and I picked it up and added it to my "to read" pile when I was cleaning out her closet. After a day's reading, I was left with the feeling that compared to Craig Mullaney, I have wasted every moment of my life since about age 9. Total waste. I've accomplished nothing, and I never will. Sigh. So, unless you were also an outstanding example of young humanity-- excelling in academics, athletics, religious devotion, personal development and just plain grit--prepare to feel like crud about your own life course as you follow Mullaney's progress from high school valedictorian to West Point, to Oxford, to Afghanistan and voila! onto the NYT best seller list. It's like reading about a different species of human--one who doesn't waste after-school hours watching Gilligan's Island or reading Flowers in the Attic. Sigh. I can forgive the braggity bragg bragg of Mullaney's tale partly because he really is impressive and it'd likely be smarmily faux-humble for him to come across as anything less, and also because he was still young when doing the writing, with a young person's expectations that things will work out if you just don't quit. Another reviewer pointed out, unkindly maybe but also factually, that Mullaney's education lasted much longer than his career as a wartime soldier. West Point and Oxford lasted six years. Mullaney's deployment lasted one year, and makes up a correspondingly portioned part of the book. The Unforgiving Minute: A scholar goes to war" might be a more accurate title, though unlikely to sell books in our anti-intellectual nation. I'm on the fence about whether I'll recommend this book to my son. I started out thinking that I might because hey, maybe he could benefit from the example Mullaney sets--working hard, studying, intellectual curiosity--but having finished the book, I don't know. It's disillusioning in the end, to see what became of all that effort and will to learn.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Eisenberg

    In The Unforgiving Minute Craig Mullaney details his educational experiences at West Point and Oxford, and the time he spent serving as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. The Unforgiving Minute is well written---Mullaney is exceedingly smart, attentive, reflective, and candid. You might expect a book about such compelling subject matter, written by a man with the aforementioned traits, to earn more than 3 stars. I certainly would. But something prevented me from engaging with this book on an em In The Unforgiving Minute Craig Mullaney details his educational experiences at West Point and Oxford, and the time he spent serving as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. The Unforgiving Minute is well written---Mullaney is exceedingly smart, attentive, reflective, and candid. You might expect a book about such compelling subject matter, written by a man with the aforementioned traits, to earn more than 3 stars. I certainly would. But something prevented me from engaging with this book on an emotional level. Mullaney uses a very analytical---I daresay sterile---writing style. As a result, I found the book interesting and enlightening, but not moving. So I liked it, but I didn't really like it. Three stars. Bonus Coverage Each chapter of The Unforgiving Minute begins with an exceedingly well-selected epigraph culled from a source that contributed to Mullaney's education. I found almost all of them to be moving and thought-provoking, and made mental notes of the sources as I moved through the book. Those mental notes turned out to be completely unnecessary---at the end of the book, Mullaney provides the reader with a recommended reading list... one that I plan to consult often for the next few years. Mullaney follows his recommended reading list with a list of 3 charities to which he recommends contributing if you wish to help support soldiers and veterans. I'll be consulting that list as well.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dave Allen

    I sat at my laptop for the longest time debating whether to give this book three stars or four. I finally went with four, because if nothing else, it's well-written, and I'm feeling generous today. Because this book is on the U.S. Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List for officers, I expected it to contain some serious substance, valuable insight or experience for young officers to draw from. Instead, it's simply a coming-of-age story, following the author from his first days at West P I sat at my laptop for the longest time debating whether to give this book three stars or four. I finally went with four, because if nothing else, it's well-written, and I'm feeling generous today. Because this book is on the U.S. Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List for officers, I expected it to contain some serious substance, valuable insight or experience for young officers to draw from. Instead, it's simply a coming-of-age story, following the author from his first days at West Point through Oxford, Ranger training and an unfortunately eventful first deployment as an infantry officer. His story is occasionally entertaining with its share of sad parts, but in the end there's no added value. No lessons learned, no special insight to be gleaned from his experiences. Only three hundred and seventy pages of 'look at what I did.' I'd recommend this book to young students considering applying to West Point or seeking a commission through other avenues. For those already in uniform, there's nothing here they haven't read or seen several times over.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wes F

    Picked this book up on a recent trip to Herat, at a colleague's house. Originally bought by another colleague who has since moved on. Great read that has many pithy leadership lessons in it for hard places. Mullaney was a West Point grad trained to be an infantry platoon leader. He then completed Ranger school and went on to do an M.A. at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Following that he was sent to Afghanistan for a tour--where he led a platoon on the rough, isolated border region between Afghanist Picked this book up on a recent trip to Herat, at a colleague's house. Originally bought by another colleague who has since moved on. Great read that has many pithy leadership lessons in it for hard places. Mullaney was a West Point grad trained to be an infantry platoon leader. He then completed Ranger school and went on to do an M.A. at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Following that he was sent to Afghanistan for a tour--where he led a platoon on the rough, isolated border region between Afghanistan & Pakistan. Gives a good bird's-eye view into army life & tactics & training, followed by the transition from theory in the classroom and simulations on the training grounds to the rough & tumble of the tough battle field.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Smith

    I really enjoyed this autobiography of Craig M. Mullaney and being a part of his journey from a West Point cadet, Rhodes scholar, and Afghanistan Solider. I also learned a little about his personal life and how he overcame challenges in dating and marriage, from not only being a soldier but also with cultural differences with his espoused and how they made it work. I'm grateful that he took the time to document these years of his life post-9/11 and gave us the perspective of a solider and the ha I really enjoyed this autobiography of Craig M. Mullaney and being a part of his journey from a West Point cadet, Rhodes scholar, and Afghanistan Solider. I also learned a little about his personal life and how he overcame challenges in dating and marriage, from not only being a soldier but also with cultural differences with his espoused and how they made it work. I'm grateful that he took the time to document these years of his life post-9/11 and gave us the perspective of a solider and the hardships they faced. I want to personally thank him for his service and for this small glimpse into his life. I enjoyed the poems and quotes he associated to each phase or chapter.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edie

    This is a wonderful book about the author's development as an Army officer. I have been reading a lot on the subject as my youngest prepares to enter West Point. I think this book gave me the best perspective on an individual's evolution into a leader of troops in combat. I can't explain the mix of pride and fear and respect I feel about my son pursuing this path. The author is very thoughtful and intellectual and he shares his mental and physical journey, including times of fear and doubt, and This is a wonderful book about the author's development as an Army officer. I have been reading a lot on the subject as my youngest prepares to enter West Point. I think this book gave me the best perspective on an individual's evolution into a leader of troops in combat. I can't explain the mix of pride and fear and respect I feel about my son pursuing this path. The author is very thoughtful and intellectual and he shares his mental and physical journey, including times of fear and doubt, and his great devotion to his men and his country.

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