Author(s): Craig M. Mullaney
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.
Mullaneyas 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 couldnat 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 soldiersa salutes, would he be ready? Was his education sufficient for the unforgiving minutes head 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.
Advance Praise for "The Unforgiving Minute"
aKeenly intelligent war memoir whose central question is, aWhat is a man?aaa] A philosophically ambitious account of coming to adulthood.a a"Kirkus Reviews"
aCraig Mullaney has lived every kind of American lifeahe has been a working- manas son, a prize scholar, a soldieraand whatas 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.a
aDavid Lipsky, contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine and author of the "New York Times "bestseller "Absolutely American"
a"The Unforgiving Minute" is the ultimate's soldier's bookauniversal 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 fireaa lyrical, spellbinding tale of war, love, and courage. "The Unforgiving Minute" is the "Three Cups of Tea" of soldiering.a
aAhmed Rashid, author of the "New York Times "bestseller "Taliban" and "Descent into Chaos"
aMullaney writes a great storyaa true privilege toread. 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.a
aGeneral Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.)
aThe Unforgiving Minute is one of the most compelling memoirs yet to emerge from Americaas 9/11 era. Craig Mullaney has given us an unusually honest, funny, accessible, and vivid account of a soldieras coming of age. This is more than a soldieras story; it is a work of literature.a
aSteve Coll, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Ghost Wars" and "The Bin Ladens"
a"The Unforgiving Minute" is the poignant true story of a young manas unusual education from the classrooms of West Point and Oxford to his development as a leader, son, brother, husband and friend. In this powerful book, we share in the remarkable experiences of a Rhodes Scholar, and the heartache and pride of a soldier. I admire Craig Mullaneyas courage, and thank him for his service.a
aSenator Richard Lugar, former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
aCraig Mullaney is an exemplar of the next great generation of Americans, those who are serving and sacrificing on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a compelling, canat-put-down book, a well-written, memorable description of preparing for war and leading in combat.a
aJoe Klein, Time Magazine political columnist and author of "New York Times" bestseller "Primary Colors"
aNo matter how many books you have read about the rigors of basic training and the terrors of war, you should read this one. Mullaney's keen eye for detail, lively narrative style, and capacity for self-reflectionaunusual in many soldiersamake an old story new and gripping.a
aAnne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
aCraig Mullaney adds his name to the very few among of us who have the intelligence, sensitivity and skill to share the unforgiving sadness and the unparalleled joy of leading men and women in combat. "The Unforgiving Minute" should be required reading for all who serve in the White House and Congress and for those who aspire to leadership. Read it. Twice.a
aPaul Bucha, West Point Class of 1965, Medal of Honor recipient and past president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society
aCraig Mullaney puts the reader in the muddy boots of a combat leader as he marches a path from West Point to Afghanistan and back again. Weaving action and reflection, "The Unforgiving Minute" is fast-paced, entertaining, and rich with insight and wisdom. A great debut from a leader to watch.a
aGeneral Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
aIntimate and evocative in the tradition of the best coming-of-age memoirs, "The Unforgiving Minute" accurately captures what it is to prepare for the ultimate responsibility of leading soldiers in war, a demand as much intellectual as physical, as much about compassion as discipline. By turns thoughtful, hilarious, gut-wrenching, and inspiring, "The Unforgiving Minute" is as gripping and addictive as it is perceptive and honest.a
aLieutenant General F.L. Hagenbeck, U.S. Army
"Craig Mullaney has served his country twice: first by leading his men at war, and now by remembering. He has done both with skill and honor.Mullaney's memoir is the thinking soldieras guide to modern combat, told with a novelist's eye for detail and a philosopher's penchant for perspective. It is a story well worth reading."
aBill Murphy Jr., author of "IN A TIME OF WAR: The Proud & Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002"
aNo one describes more clearly how a boy becomes a man than Craig Mullaney in this masterpiece of self-awareness. No American can read this book and ever again forget what we owe to others for giving to us a society filled with so many choices that we have the freedom to make for ourselves.a
aDavid L. Boren, former U.S. Senator and longest serving chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee
aAn honest account of the closeness and the distance between a father and a son and the highs and lows of military life. A heart-breaking account of what it is like to be responsible for the life and death of America's most precious asset: the Combat Warrior. A must read for all combat leaders.a
aLieutenant General Ronald Coleman, U.S. Marine Corps
""The Unforgiving Minute" tells the story of a fiercely passionate young man and provides important insight into a new greatest generationahis comrades in arms who serve in a time of war. Read this book to get a sense of their courage and sacrifice."
aLieutenant Colonel John Nagl, USA (Ret.), author of "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife"
a"The Unforgiving Minute" is a literate and thoughtful memoir that is a valuable contribution to both the genre and to our understanding of contemporary conflict.a
aAndrew Exum, author of "This Man's Army"
"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.
aA poignant and evocative book about the great hurdles in coming of age: love, death, belief, and betrayala]I couldnat stop reading.a
aNathaniel Fick, author of "The New York Times" bestseller "One Bullet Away"
aCraig Mullaneyas memoir is a story of our time, from West Point to combat in Afghanistan and back. 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.a
aThomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco: "The American Military Adventure in Iraq," and senior military correspondent for "The Washington Post,"
aThe young Army officer at the center of this tale provides a searing and honest account, full of small victories, significant losses, and eventually the greatest of all triumphs: self-awareness and understanding. This is a marvelous read, full of life lessons on every page, written in a modest and unflinching styleaa classic memoir.a
aAdmiral James Stavridis, Commander, U.S. Southern Command