- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Soho Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569476284
- ISBN-13: 978-1569476284
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,754,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Sandbox Hardcover – April 1, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Zimmerman's remarkable debut succeeds both as a realistic portrayal of the current Iraq war from the American perspective and as an energetic thriller. Stationed at a remote and poorly equipped U.S. army base in the Iraqi desert, Pvt. Toby Durrant worries about his pregnant fiancée back home. After a remotely detonated bomb kills two soldiers, Toby's commander, Lieutenant Blankenship, recruits him to monitor the accuracy of a translator, and then to interrogate two Iraqi prisoners suspected of being involved in the attack. Well aware of his lack of qualifications, Toby, who made a number of bad choices as a civilian, can't help thinking something else is going on, especially after the prisoners turn up dead. His difficulties escalate with the arrival of a military intelligence officer, who asks him for information about Blankenship. Readers will empathize with the author's everyman narrator as Toby tries to survive while maintaining his humanity. Zimmerman is a talent to watch. (Apr.)
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The situation at remote Forward Operating Base Cornucopia isn’t good. Once home to 150 enlisted men, troop strength has been reduced to 45, and an IED attack has reduced that by 3. The commanding officer is a green West Point lieutenant who is a mystery to his troops, and locals with uncertain loyalties warn that a large force is massing nearby to wipe them out. A sandstorm has halted supply shipments, and the camp’s only video-game console has been stolen. Private Toby Durrant soldiers on, but the arrival and the actions of a lone, creepy intelligence officer hint that things are much, much worse than he realized. Interestingly, Durrant’s war is identified only contextually through allusions to Bush administration blunders. This fine first novel skillfully portrays both the eternal verities of war as well as the stark differences that each war imposes on the young who do the fighting; like many war novels, it powerfully conveys the message that young soldiers are more honorable than those who put them in harm’s way. --Thomas Gaughan
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Top customer reviews
The plot is also the novel's greatest weakness, as so much of it is unfortunately revealed in a lengthy (and dare I say somewhat contrived) expository conversation late in the novel. If I had to guess, I'd blame this on the editing process and on some marketing decision to shorten the novel. Instead of being shown this part of the story, instead of living it vicariously through the main character, we listen while a lot of the twists and turns are explained in dialogue. It's an expeditious solution to the problem of exposition, but it's not a particularly graceful one.
This is unfortunate, but don't get me wrong: it's not a deal-breaker. The novel is a great read, and it's one that I'll read again. Zimmerman clearly has an excellent ear for dialogue, and it's obvious that he's done his homework. His protagonist is at once an Everyman and a person of unusual character and sensitivity. I read a review (NY Times maybe?) that dinged Zimmerman for some heavy-handed symbolism, and if I'd only read the opening chapters, I might have agreed with it; in the context of the whole novel, though, that criticism just doesn't hold a lot of water.
I'm not ready to declare David Zimmerman the next Tim O'Brien or anything, but The Sandbox is a great read.
The book centers around Toby Durrant, a U.S. private stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Cornucopia, a remote American outpost in Iraq that has recently seen much of its strength reduced in the gradual draw down of U.S. forces. Manned by a skeleton crew, a seemingly random IED attack on the base's commanding officer, leads Durrant down a twisting path that includes his fellow soldiers, the remaining lieutenant, a spooky captain from military intelligence who doesn't seem to have a name, and the Iraqi insurgents.
An entertaining mystery set in a war zone, some of the characters and situations in The Sandbox are on the nose, but overall the book is a brisk and enjoyable read. It may not be the book its publisher sold it as, but it offers an interesting spin on the noir genre.
The environments are illustrated exhaustively and with care. Descriptions of people come off as genuine and vivid. There are bits of humanity thrown in everywhere. They come in the form of visceral personal quips about other soldiers or one-asides with the reader on military culture.
The story clips along nicely and can be a real page turner. I thought some of the plot twists were a bit over elaborate but it's a really solid effort that I ultimately enjoyed reading.
Far fetched. Also, he ended the book without resolution of the main
character. But all said it is well worth the investment in time and money.
I recommend it.
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Only two or three times a year do I happen upon a book / author that I have never heard of, purchase it...Read more