Monday, February 28, 2011
The New Breed
It is difficult to write reviews for the books in this series because I am reading them so quickly. I bought all of them at one time and have been going non-stop so that as soon as I finish one I just start the next leaving me no time to pause and write a review.
However, I felt this book deserved a little bit of individual attention simply because, so far, it was the best of the bunch in not only this series but also of "The Corps" series which I read immediately before "The Brotherhood of War."
This book doesn't stand out because Griffin suddenly changed his formula either; it still features extraordinary soldiers and the women they love or lust after. This is the first book in the series that doesn't focus on Craig Lowell - instead it is really about the young private Portet drafted into the US Army from his expat home in the Congo where he fly's for his fathers fledgling airline. Portet, much like the rest of Griffin's characters, has an unusual ability to absorb languages - plus he is fairly well off financially though he isn't, as Lowell would say, "Comfortable." Portet, much like Lowell, however, isn't very pleased to find himself in the military and is just counting down the days until his obligation is fulfilled and he can return home. Home is the crux of his problem.
Griffin has changed the playing field, and the normal flow of time in the series, by focusing on the chaos that took place in the Congo during the mid 1960's. "The Generals", the book that precedes "The New Breed" in the series actually takes place later in the 60's, after the events of "The New Breed." Furthermore, the other books in the series focus on the Asian Pacific theater so being thrust into the Congo rebellion is a little bit jarring; but in a good way.
To tell the truth I was a little tired of Craig Lowell and his playboy lifestyle. I had tired of him a couple books prior; he never seemed to learn his lesson about screwing around. Craig's nephew, Geoff who is also featured in this book, is a more likable guy because he is both married and faithful to his wife Ursula. Furthermore, Private Portet, who was a bit of a ladies man before entering the Army, isn't simply a rich kid with an unusually successful love life. Instead he seems to have a little more depth than Lowell.
I have also really enjoyed learning more about the circumstances of the strife in the Congo. It is one of those engagements I haven't read much about even though I'm somewhat familiar with Joseph Mobutu and Moise Tshombe. One of my favorite aspects of Historic Fiction is that it provides me with a launching pad to learn more about the actual history behind the story. I am anxious to learn more about the people and the events that took place around the Congo in the 1960s' thanks to this book.
You can pick up any of Griffin's book and read them out of order because he does a pretty good job of providing the back story filler for each main character in each book. This is a little bit annoying when you read the books back to back - but it provides a casual reader with the perfect excuse to skip straight to "The New Breed" for an interesting and compelling story about the Cold War and our efforts to stop the spread of Communism through the world.