his wide-ranging knowledge of the country's military establishment, Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks has created an entirely credible, and disturbing, fictional tale of conspiracy among our highest-ranking military officials.

After observing the culture wars that dominated military-civilian interactions during the Clinton administration, Ricks reportedly felt that a novel, rather than a nonfiction book, was the best way to reveal the strains and conflicts that affect today's soldiers.

At the center of his novel are two talented young officers who arrive at the Pentagon and conveniently fall in love. Majors Bud Lewis and Cindy Sherman are among the Army's best, and they've both been tapped for prime positions as aides-de-camp for two of the Pentagon's most senior generals. After Sherman and Lewis begin their tours of duty, they soon discover that a secret group of military officers who call themselves the Sons of Liberty is conducting covert protests against White House policy.

Failed missions in Algeria and a looming debacle in Afghanistan, coupled with a civilian leadership that's out of touch, provide the backdrop for a gripping thriller and an excellent portrait of the American military. As the administration keeps the Army grinding through a miserable third-world brushfire war, the Sons of Liberty's activities grow more treasonous, and their efforts to avoid detection more ruthless. Majors Sherman and Lewis find themselves in a vicious game with life-and-death stakes and the future of the American military hanging in the balance.

The subversive campaign gains more support as the Afghanistan mission worsens. In the end, the young officers are challenged to choose between their duties to a nation and its civilian leadership and their personal honor as officers expected to follow the orders of their superiors.

A Soldier's Duty offers a provocative look at the post-Cold War generation of soldiers. A Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting at the Washington Post and the author of a nonfiction bestseller (Making the Corps), Rick has demonstrated with his first novel that fiction can be an effective tool for reporting a story.

Dominic Caraccilo is a lieutenant colonel in the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia.

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