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by Benjamin Hall

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A Fox News war reporter writes of his hellish and near-fatal experiences in the field. During his career, Hall has gone “wherever civilization was collapsing under the assault of factions and ideologies—to Aleppo in Syria, Mosul in Iraq, Kabul in Afghanistan, Mogadishu in Somalia—always maneuvering as close to the front lines as I could,” constantly confronted by the “brutal reality of war.” Working as a war correspondent in Ukraine, he suffered serious injuries from a Russian bomb that killed two of his colleagues. Hall is nothing if not thoughtful: His meditations on the events of his life preceding that terrible moment are always about the well-being of others, especially vis--vis his work. Should he record the moment as a fighter dies? Does he take sides? It seems clear that in the case of Russia’s Ukrainian incursion, his sympathies lie with the invaded, even though “it was not my job to tell people how I felt. It was my job to give viewers the news they needed to know, and to convey how the Ukrainians felt about what was happening. By then I had learned how to squirrel my emotions safely away in my pocket.” The author’s story centers largely on his struggle to regain health and capabilities after having suffered what medical personnel call polytrauma as well as significant burns. He was airlifted for treatment at U.S. military hospitals and rehabilitation centers while being accorded the unusual kindnesses of strangers. These included a Special Forces soldier who offered him gummy bears on his gurney high above the Atlantic and the medical staff who worked around the clock to save his life and as much of his body as they could. It makes for an affecting, singular story. Not for the fainthearted, but a bracing tale of life on the edge of death. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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