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The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by [Mullaney, Craig M.]
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The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 261 customer reviews

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Length: 428 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Young Captain Mullaney’s admirable, literate autobiography, that of a veteran of combat in Afghanistan, adds much to knowledge of the modern army and makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate over what a “warrior” is these days. Mullaney wryly recounts his years at West Point and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, then writes eloquently of infantry combat and the persistent burden of guilt for not bringing all his men home even as he makes his account a tribute to his fellow warriors. He concludes with sidelights on his teaching post at the U.S. Naval Academy and the moving story of his younger brother’s graduation from West Point and subsequent passage into the ranks of the warriors himself. Almost impossible to put down for anyone interested in the modern U.S. Army or in modern warfare in general. --Roland Green


"[The Unforgiving Minute] is one man's story, warmly and credibly told, and its focus is on the idealism that he brought to military service. In Captain Mullaney's mind there is no contradiction between loyally following orders and intelligently wondering what purpose those orders serve.... The Unforgiving Minute finds both suspense and pathos in the events that took place under its author's command. Its fierce climactic battle is recreated in searing detail. But what gives this memoir its impact isn't the external events that it describes. It's the inner journey of a man who is at first eager to learn as much as he can from service and scholarship. Later on he learns from his mistakes."
-The New York Times

"The Unforgiving Minute is a wonderful, beautifully written story of the education and development of a young soldier-scholar, the coming of age of an infantry officer, and the exercise of a small unit leader's responsibilities in a tough, complex, and frustrating situation in Afghanistan. It captures particularly eloquently and movingly the relationships among those who walk point for our nation as part of that most elite of fraternities, the brotherhood of the close fight."
-General David Petraeus, Commander, U.S. Central Command

"Craig Mullaney's memoir is a thoughtful, introspective work reminiscent of the great British memoirs of World War I. A thousand years from now, historians wanting to know about life in America after 9/11 would do well to look at this book. Equally important, it is an enjoyable and honest book. Read it."
-Thomas E. Ricks, author of New York Times bestseller FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq and senior military correspondent, The Washington Post

"[Craig Mullaney] ultimately delivers far more than the boy-to-man story that he promised.... In this extraordinary book, Mullaney has taken the trouble to look very closely, and has had the courage to discover the limits to his own understanding. Readers will be fascinated to look over his shoulder."
-Washington Post Book World

"Craig Mullaney has lived every kind of American life-he has been a working- man's son, a prize scholar, a soldier-and what's come out of it is a classic memoir about what it means to be American. By marching so many terrains, he has covered the subjects central to every life: courage, pain, loyalty, honor, friendship, love and the tests any good life faces, year by year, minute by minute. He has also produced a page-turner, a brutally honest account of West Point life, the innocence-abandoned experiences of an American abroad at Oxford, and ultimately an indelible story of life and death on the battlefield. In words his squadmates might recognize, I recommend The Unforgiving Minute without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
-David Lipsky, contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine and author of the New York Times bestseller Absolutely American

"The Unforgiving Minute is one of the most compelling memoirs yet to emerge from America's 9/11 era. Craig Mullaney has given us an unusually honest, funny, accessible, and vivid account of a soldier's coming of age. This is more than a soldier's story; it is a work of literature."
-Steve Coll, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens

"Former Army Capt. Craig Mullaney admits up front that, emotionally, he takes after his expressive Irish mother, who is "incapable of stemming a tear." Mullaney is less candid and perhaps unaware of his talent for evoking emotion in others..... But The Unforgiving Minute is far from heavy and never maudlin. Mullaney's sense of humor is obvious....It is Mullaney's clear-eyed, warm- hearted candor that elicits empathy.... This self-effacing frankness makes his coming- of- age-in-uniform memoir a charmer.... Stunning [and] pertinent."
-The Army Times "The Unforgiving Minute is the ultimate's soldier's book-universal in its raw emotion and its understanding of the larger issues of life and death. Mullaney, a master storyteller, plunges the depths of self-doubt, endurance, and courage. The result: a riveting, suspenseful human story, beautifully told. This is a book written under fire-a lyrical, spellbinding tale of war, love, and courage. The Unforgiving Minute is the Three Cups of Tea of soldiering."
-Ahmed Rashid, author of the New York Times bestseller Taliban and Descent into Chaos

"The Unforgiving Minute is a gripping account of a young military officer's quest to prepare for the unknowns of leadership under fire, and his eventual testing in Afghanistan. With unflinching candor, Mullaney depicts his evolution from idealistic teenager to reflective veteran who retains his conviction and patriotism once his innocence is lost. His emotional, often funny memoir takes us to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, through the rigors of Army Ranger school, then on to drunken debates and romance at Oxford, where he had a Rhodes Scholarship.... The book [is] a departure from traditionally dry military memoirs --it reads like a work of literature.... Mullaney's evolution through his intellectual and emotional journey grips on every page; his writing contains a modesty that becomes more endearing as his achievements mount. This is a classic coming-of-age memoir and a valuable insight into post-Sept. 11 conflict."

"Mullaney writes a great story-a true privilege to read. Entertaining, balanced, and graceful, The Unforgiving Minute is a powerful narrative of purpose, responsibility, courage, and personal growth. Every young man and woman in America should read this book, and aspire to his standard of public service."
-General Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.)

"The Unforgiving Minute is a classic memoir of war and personal development. Craig Mullaney has provided a far greater service to his nation by penning a riveting memoir that should be mandatory reading by every junior officer who dons the military uniform."
-ARMY Magazine

"I recommend The Unforgiving Minute because it is superb and important.... Read the book and you know the caliber of the men and women leading our troops and the troops themselves. More importantly, Craig shows the price of service to country and the cost of sacrifices so few individuals endure in our name."
-The Huffington Post

"Craig Mullaney has written a poignant and evocative book about the great hurdles in coming of age: love, death, belief, and betrayal. Learning from his experience can help us face our own unforgiving minutes. I couldn't stop reading."
-Nathaniel Fick, author of the New York Times bestseller One Bullet Away

"Insightful... This book should be read, certainly, by everyone who has a loved one who is serving in the military, has served or might one day serve. But it also should be required reading for all Americans.... His is a remarkable journey, recounted with unflinching honesty, thoughtful reflection, occasional humor and hard-won wisdom.... An unusual book that combines grittily realistic accounts of war with highly educated reflection and introspection.... If enough people read [The Unforgiving Minute], then perhaps we as a country would not have such a profound lack of understanding of the volunteer troops we send to fight our wars, and of the sacrifices that they and their families make."
-Winston-Salem Journal

"One of the most thoughtful and honest accounts ever written by a young Army officer confronting all the tests of life---education, love, self-knowledge, combat, and the fates of war."
-Bob Woodward

"There have been a slew of memoirs, many very go

Product Details

  • File Size: 1155 KB
  • Print Length: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 9, 2009)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001P9W9PY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,689 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Unforgiving Minute is a spectacularly written, extremely accurate depiction of the life of a US Army Officer involved in the Global War on Terror. As a member of the West Point class of 2000, I've shared many experiences with Craig. These include not only our time at West Point, but also time that I spent at the same locations in Afghanistan a year after Craig. His accuracy and presentation are astounding, and the challenges he faces are real.

Beginning with his time as a cadet, Craig takes us through his 4 years at West Point, his time in Ranger school, and his attendance at Oxford as a Rhode's Scholar. He takes us on a journey of developing relationships with his soldiers, and then testing and growing those relationships on the battlefields of Afghanistan. The struggles that he details are something that all Army leaders deal with, but few can put to paper as well as Craig has.

In addition to all that, this book is a love story and a story of family hardships. This book is truly a page turner that I recommend to anyone. "The Unforgiving Minute" is an instant classic that I will read over and over again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the life story of West Point graduate... Rhodes Scholar... Afghanistan veteran... Craig Mullaney... who also believe it or not... wound up teaching at the Naval Academy. The author takes you from his childhood which included great admiration for his hard working Father, to an in depth look at life for a plebe at the hallowed grounds of West Point. It's invigorating for the reader as Craig describes the demanding goals that are set so high for our future leaders... both physically... and academically. The smallest detail is never small enough to be overlooked. A tiny... seemingly insignificant detail now... can save a life on the battlefield. One of the most enjoyable parts of this literary journey are the quotations that are peppered throughout the story. They range from Plato: "ONLY THE DEAD HAD SEEN THE END OF WAR." to "WHO SEEKS PEACE MUST PREPARE FOR WAR."

After West Point Craig wins a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and in my opinion this is the one part of the book that loses a little traction. After completing his Oxford education the author enters Ranger School... and during this portion of his training it is literally impossible not to be in absolute awe of these future leaders of America. As an honorably discharged Viet Nam era veteran, I am amazed at the capability to push both the body... and the mind... past any logically accepted limits... and to have the inner strength and fortitude... to push both of them together in harmony. Another laudable character trait constantly displayed by the author throughout this story... is the fact that he... openly shares his fears... doubts... and uncertainties... with the reader. A sterling example of this is when he asks a war veteran: "HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW YOU'LL HANDLE COMBAT?" "YOU WON'T HE RESPONDED.
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Format: Hardcover
I live in Berkeley, CA, and like most of the population here, am as far to the left politically as it is possible to get. I have always had a negative view of the military in general and in particular, of the kind of person who would volunteer for it. It has seemed to me to be the sort of thing men (and to a lesser extent women) do who want to have power over others, and who need to feel superior to others. Needless to say, news from Abu Ghraib did nothing to change my perception of this.

Mullaney's story, however, has changed my mind. His sense of integrity, honor, and humility, along with others he served with, comes across so clearly in his writing, that I have had to re-evaluate my beliefs about military culture. He is the kind of person I would actually trust to carry a gun, and to represent the U.S. in other countries. I can only assume that he would not love the army so much unless it was filled with other people holding values similar to his. He wrote in the Author''s Note that he hoped his book would help America better understand its military. He has done that for me, and I believe many like me will feel the same.

I recommend this book to every American--to those who love the military, and especially to those who think they hate it.
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Format: Hardcover
Mullaney's book is moderately well-written but fails to deliver. I salute his service, but as an Iraq war vet, I am very disappointed by his lack of leadership, and I am equally disappointed with the book. As such, it is probably good that Mullaney decided to leave the Army when his contract was up.

The author boasts his blue-collar, Irish-Catholic upbringing, but as and adult he completely disrepsects and literally turns his back on his hard-working father, whom he can't bring himself to forgive for his parent's divorce. When writing about one of his men who was killed in combat, Mullaney devotes several pages focused on his feelings, which is fine as one of the book's themes, but it leaves the (correct) impression that Mullaney is way too into himself to be a good military leader. For example, in true narcissistic fashion, he couldn't even bring himself to respond to a touching letter written by the dead soldier's dad. What kind of leadership is that? Then, after his return from Afghanistan, he visits the dead soldier's grave, but can't overcome his own self-absorbed emotions to pay a visit to the kid's dad. Maybe he has a problem with father figures. Ironically, in the end, Mullaney "forgives" himself for the death of a soldier, but never forgives his own dad for the divorce.

I'm sure Mullaney is a bright guy, but what comes across is a very shallow intellectualism. Two stars is the most I can recommend. Save your money.
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