Assassins: Mike Bond
Enter the war in Afghanistan and experience the fear, the mortar, the danger and dealing with the Afghan opposition to Soviet invaders. Meet Jack who is on this dangerous mission in Afghanistan. The year is 1982 and he is placed in a precarious and dangerous position as each man on the team is dropped from the chopper, not knowing what he will find when on the ground. Jack was placed undercover as a Peace Corps volunteer working and teaching children in the local village. While doing this job he befriended another teacher named Ahmad and in the tradition of cutting a specific part of your hand or finger, they became blood brothers. The energy is palpable and the danger is real as the team fights for their lives as the missiles go off, shots are fired and many men die. The Americans are there to supply the Afghans with missiles used to take down the Soviet helicopters. But like in all wars sometimes things change and priorities reworked as the CIA works to prevent a truce between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan but why?
Meet Dr. Sophie Dassault who is working there to save lives including Jack’s but with little resources, poor facilities and at times little or know medicine or supplies to aid the injured and the sick. Going to tend to the sick is dangerous at times and could get her killed, raped or injured as those in the street care little for a female doctor. Hearing her talk with Leo, who has been shot and filled with mortar in his head, you can hear the anger, feel her frustration and wonder why she even bothers to help people she hates and does not care about. Listening to Leo talk with her is interesting as he is trying to be more than just a patient.
Next we find Jack and his men in Pakistan but first he brings Owen back and then they head for Pakistan.
Jack is smart, astute and with the aid of Loxley, Ackerman and this team he has been sent to gather Intel in Lebanon, dealing with Islamic Jihad terrorist groups that bomb the barracks in Beirut and as in any major war there is retaliation as in this case for the fact the we, the Americans bombed the village in Beirut which was retribution for the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. Jack returns in order to take action and revenge against those that killed the American soldiers. Reenter Jack as the wars push on and the description and violence quite graphic but his diversions dealing with one woman quite interesting and informative. We learn that the Afghans have a lot of opium, drugs help their economy and although we want to stop the war with Russia and Iran they hope to continue it at all costs. No matter what Jack tries to do including meeting with higher ups enlightening them on what he sees and what should be done they are determined to keep the war going.
This is a story that could be ripped right out of the headlines as you the reader and this reviewer will enter Afghanistan drop from parachutes, enter the night skies and deal with the Paris attacks. The novel spans thirty years of war between the West and Islam. As you read the author’s notes and bio you will learn that the events depicted are based on Mike Bond’s personal experiences in the Middle East. The voice heard if that of many with various opinions, thoughts, views and some told in first person while others directly to the reader or in third. You hear Sophie woman doctor, an American commando and Wahid an Afghani warlord. You will learn from a woman journalist that is British or even a Russian major. Within this novel from the start and as it progresses you will witness the fight door to door in the cities of Iraq and the deserts of Africa, Syria and Sinai. You will understand and fear the battles inside a Russian tank and learn what happens when a French doctor steel away and feel the love that can destroy and be taken from them at any time. Jack is angry, jaded and bitter throughout the novel and each encounter with different terrorist situations brings it out even more. Losing Leo and Loxley made it even worse as Sophia saves his life when he is attacked by the enemy, he goes home and you can tell just by his words and actions that he is angry and does want to go back to finish what so many started but will they ever end the war?
The author explains how the Islamic Jihad grew into ISIS made up of those who would sacrifice themselves for the good of their own cause. Reenter Sophie after losing Leo and having cope with a small child and meeting his parents who welcome her with open arms. Understand the mentality of those like Jack who are obsessed with war and will not give up. Did the Saudi’s fund September 11th? Did the Bush administration allow bin Laden to escape Afghanistan and did Obama’s choice to leave Iraq allow the new breeding ground for the rise of ISIS? Based on first hand experiences the author experienced Assassins refers to the Muslims, ISIS, Afghans, Syrians but us too. Why did he choose to relay this topic? As the author relates in an interview that this subject bothered him as a teenagers in Algeria and then by fighting in a number of wars between Islam and The West. In the author’s words: Because Islam represents a serious (though often underestimated) threat to our modern Western way of life and civilization, I am consistently driven to write about and report it.
Authors present their thoughts in many different viewpoints but this one you hear Jack, Leo, Loxley, Timmy and other Americans, Muslims, Jihadists and an Afghani warlord named Wahid who wants to take out all of the infidels. Each character is unique, different and has his/her own flaws, strengths and weaknesses. The French Doctor has been voices and presents different faces with each person she meets. Going back to Paris she has her young son Leo but when her car is towed and she receives tickets it will cost her a lot just to try and get it back. It’s as if the whole world can do whatever they want except those who can’t. Jack is now going to go to Paris and with a deniability clause that he has to sign will he go back and fight another war and this time somewhere else? How can you sign something that says you were never there? Is this a war of loyalties if so whose? It’s almost as if the book is focused on one big war within the Assassins and killers as each individual person fighting his or her own private war to survive.
Jack feels that Sophie saved his life many times and when he is in Paris is tracks her down, connects with her and then explains who he is looking for but does not really say why. Pretending to be an Afghan and speaking Pashto and Afghan he is able to assimilate in many different environments and pretending to want to kill the infidels who do not believe in the Koran seems quite convincing to the terrorists.
The structure of war is not looked up the same way by all sides. Jack knew that something was brewing each time he was demanded and called to go back inside by Ackerman, Timmy and others. Fear makes you vulnerable. Hate brings on revenge and the continents of war at times makes you stronger and yet unaware of what is happening in front of you. As Beirut is hit, our embassies in Nairobi too and then September 11th the world was becoming more aware that Al Qaeda the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and those associated with Osama bin Laden were not going anywhere and when his best friend and the man who saved his life is killed Jack hardens even more. Each time author Mike Bond brings us into the many different battles, bombings, encounters and allows us to hear the terrorist rationalize their thinking and why they want to destroy all of the infidels, you should shudder. The author brilliantly recreates the wars in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and then we meet Leo at ages 16 and 18 and his daughter Sarah at age 7 seeing the world through a child’ brilliant eyes wanting to be an astrophysicist. When Sarah argues with Jack and Sophie about going to the orthodontist for her teeth, Jack will always regret not taking her along with him on his mission and the end result is more than tragic. Hardened, immune to others and their words we hear Wahid order the death of his own brother Ahmed. We hear the rationalization of these men when someone dares to save the lives of small children at what they feel is their expense. Their mindsets are sick and their ways frightening as they actually think they are right. Using his own experiences in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Middle East author Mike Bond bring authenticity to this novel in a powerful way.
Jack finds himself going after the terrorists with many restrictions from Bush, Langley and other higher ups that refuse to understand that the Taliban is dangerous and that working with them will only bring more deaths. Bombs, weapons, guns and other artillery take out a lot of the opposition as Wahid wonders why God and his belief in the Koran have failed him.
Throughout the novel Jack is sent to Bagdad, Tora Bora, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq in search of Osama bin Laden and as he puts his life on the line he encounters Wahid and other terrorists that the government wants free and not taken in but he has his own thoughts as we have given the Taliban millions of dollars, we want the crude oil in Iraq and the government officials have their own agendas each different as we hear Ackerman and many others that practically threaten Jack into doing their bidding while they have other plans when the bombs go off, the people are dead and the body counts rise. The author describes these events and massacres in such detail you can actually feel you are there. Then in comes Isabella and Independent who wants to know why Jack is there yet he wonders how Bin Laden keeps getting away and the intrigue plans that Bush has and why not go after Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction.
Hear the words of Wahid as he talks about religion and with Afghanistan, Iraq and how we want oil and military bases on both sides of Iran, which has a lot of oil. Oil is a dying commodity and as he states they have to grab as much as they can. No one is innocent and there is no limits on their opium shipments. The author concludes with how ISIS came into control and why they are so dangerous. Isabelle is taken and Jack goes into overdrive and will stop at nothing to get her back? Will he make it in time?
The ending is explosive as the Paris attacks leave the reader and Jack and many more reeling with pain and anger. But, as he says at the end when he is once again called to action: When enemies attack you : PEACE IS A DREAM. No one is innocent and the world including ours if filled with people like Jack: ASSASSINS!