In This Review

A Soldier's Duty
A Soldier's Duty
By Thomas E. Ricks
Random House, 2001, 241 pp

"The politicians have failed. We are being misused by civilians who serve market values, not the nation. Our values run deeper than the latest polls." Thus a proclamation by the Sons of Liberty, a subversive group in the U.S. military that dominates this novel. An experienced defense correspondent, Ricks tells a story in which both the heroes and the villains are soldiers who think they are hewing closely to soldierly values. The book takes the form of a work of fiction and is built around Pentagon infighting during a war going poorly in, of all places, Afghanistan. But it is really an extremely well informed meditation on contemporary civil-military relations, which are in a state of deep (although concealed) crisis. The novelist, the reader quickly realizes, can say what the journalist merely intuits.