Book - 2020
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"Neither Mason, a U.S. Army Special Forces medic, nor Lisette, a foreign correspondent, has emerged from America's long post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unscathed. Yet war also exerts a terrible draw that neither can shake--the noble calling, the camaraderie, the life-and-death stakes. Where else in the world can such a person go? All roads lead to Colombia, where the US, with its patented fusion of intelligence dominance and quick-striking special operators, has partnered with local government to stamp out a vicious civil war and keep the predatory narco gangs at bay. Mason, now a liaison to the Colombian military, is ready for the good war, and Lisette is more than ready to cover it. For Juan Pablo, Mason's counterpart in the Colombian officer corps, translating reality into a language the Americans can understand requires a cartoonist's gift for caricature, but it's child's play next to the challenge of navigating the viper's nest of factions bidding for power, in the capital and far out in the field. And if Juan Pablo's view is dark, the outlook of Abel, a lieutenant in the militia Los Mil Jesuses, which controls territory in rural Norte de Santander, a region on the Venezuelan border where the writ of law scarcely runs, is positively Stygian. Abel has lost everything he loves in the carnage that for his entire life has flowed unceasingly in this region, where the lines between drug cartels, militias, and the state are semi-permeable. It is Abel's cruel fate to find safety only by serving a man he has come to fear and loathe. Missionaries is an astonishment, a novel of extraordinary suspense whose central, unsparing drama is infused by a geopolitical sophistication and a wisdom about the human heart that would be rare even in isolation. As Los Mil Jesuses make their move to fill a power vacuum in Norte de Santander, aided and abetted by the Colombian military for its own reasons, the Americans are made pawns of a game they don't even begin to understand. The result is an unfolding calamity that will leave no character unscathed, and will echo across the planet. A work whose accomplishment calls forth comparisons to Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and Robert Stone, Missionaries ultimately stands apart as its own electrifying new form of artistic reckoning with the forces we have unleashed in our world"--
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2020
ISBN: 9781984880659
Branch Call Number: FIC Klay
Characteristics: 404 pages ; 25 cm


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List - New Books - November 2020
NWPL Nov 04, 2020


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May 26, 2021

I think Klay is a gifted writer and his book Redeployment is astonishgly good in my opinion. This one just didn't quite come together for me. While I found it somewhat thought provoking and had a good cross section of different points of view, it just never gained momentum for me. Disappointing and yet still felt I gained something from reading it.

Jan 23, 2021

Obama book

Dec 04, 2020

'Missionaries' is a novel about the United States' never-ending, misbegotten wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, and now Yemen. It is especially about the drug wars in Colombia. 'Missionaries' opened my eyes to what is really happening in this world. The United States has inserted themselves into the local battles in these countries with little understanding of what's going on, like the war in Vietnam. This is about the new kind of wars the United States is fighting in the 21st century, wars that never end.

'Missionaries' is a novel that will change your entire worldview. It is an example of how fiction can provide more meaningful information than non-fiction and provide it in a more enjoyable and palatable form.

In Columbia, the United States has been heavily involved in the conflict since its beginnings, when in the early 1960s the U.S. government encouraged the Colombian military to attack leftist guerrillas in rural Colombia. This was part of the U.S. fight against “communism”. Besides the military, the United States also encouraged right-wing paramilitary groups to fight the guerrillas. These paramilitary groups soon developed into ruthless violent vigilantes, and they also became heavily involved in the illegal drug trade of cocaine and other substances themselves.

“Here is what happens when a man is chainsawed in half in the public square of a small village.”

Now US private mercenary army companies such as Academi (formerly Blackwater) and Dyncorp recruit former members of Colombian paramilitary groups to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere because these guys have no qualms about killing or torturing people.

“Even military people tend to hold mercenaries in contempt.”

In 'Missionaries', four narrators tell the interlocking stories in Colombia of the coco growers, the narcotics dealers, the Colombian army, and the paramilitary groups. And overseeing it all are the US Special Forces, a “higher level of badassery”. Most of the people who have been killed or tortured in these drug wars in Colombia do not belong to any of these groups but instead have been civilians. Shoot first and don't ask questions later. It was not unusual for a former Colombian military officer to turn paramilitary operator, then turn narcotics dealer.

By relating the stories of each of the main characters up until then, Phil Klay has found a fascinating way to bring us up to speed on his intricate yet tragic story. And then 'Missionaries winds up with a rousing scary thrill ride.

And now there is the war in Yemen, “one half war and one half extermination”, which the journalist in 'Missionaries' refers to as “the most fucked-up war we're engaged in right now”.

'Missionaries' goes a long way to explain why the United States wound up with a nasty corrupt authoritarian fool for its President.

Grade: A

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