Small Wars Journal

The Unforgiving Minute - Now in Paperback

Now in paperback: The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig M. Mullaney.

Here's what we posted almost a year ago:

The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education

By Craig M. Mullaney

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty Seconds' worth of distance, run,

Yours is the Earth and everything in it,

And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling, "If"

My only regret in reading The Unforgiving Minute is that I had not read it earlier -- when I received an advance copy in the mail several weeks ago. Now finished, I will offer up my very short summation, echo the praise lavished on this fine piece of work since its release and give it a hearty thumbs up as essential reading for those in (or veterans of) our business -- and maybe more importantly - for those who need to know what that business is all about.

The Unforgiving Minute traces Craig Mullaney's life as a student at West Point, Ranger School and Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; as a Soldier in Afghanistan; as a teacher at the US Naval Academy, and as a veteran.

His writing style displays a fine balance that allows The Unforgiving Minute to be informative, educational, moving, and entertaining for both the seasoned warrior and uninitiated civilian alike. General David Petraeus was spot on in describing Mullaney's book as 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.

Within those words -- two -- soldier-scholar -- probably describe my major take-away from The Unforgiving Minute and reinforces all I've experienced the last 30 years associated with the US military -- we can ill afford leaders equipped solely with the implements of warfare -- they must be intellectually equipped as well. Craig Mullaney is indeed a soldier-scholar and --citizen as well and his story is the story of a whole generation of young leaders.

I'll leave you with Steve Coll's description of The Unforgiving Minute - ... 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.

The Unforgiving Minute - Craig Mullaney's web site

Interview with Andrew Exum - Abu Muqawama

Interview on Afghanistan - Charlie Rose Show