The Renegades, by Tom Young

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The Renegades by Tom Young takes the reader into the heart of Afghanistan after an earthquake ravaged the country. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson, an Air Force adviser to the Afghans, called in his interpreter, Sergeant Major Sophia Gold to assist him with the rescue efforts to deliver aid and attempt to reach the trapped and injured.

Tom Young shares the story behind The Renegades to let readers know the realities of how our service members handle the issues they have to face on a daily basis within a war zone. My personal opinion is that this book might be too realistic for readers who have experienced the impact of IEDs and suicide bombers, or for readers who can’t handle the realities of war. I would give a word of warning to anyone dealing with flashbacks/ PTSD. Young is graphic with many details of war. He doesn’t sugarcoat the story, and gives the reader a real picture of just what those fighting for freedom experience. Some will praise him for this, others will shudder…I wouldn’t call it “easy” reading.

Learning some about the female military team known as the Lionesses was interesting. Sgt. Major Gold portrays a brave woman who works with two of the Lionesses. In a conversation with one of the pararescue jumpers, a discussion ensues regarding being able to make peace with what he does, and doing all that he can do in any situation presented to him. Gold wonders if she has spent so much time in Afghanistan that a part of her won’t ever leave…that it has taken hold of her. That reminded me of the answer a Vietnam vet gave when asked when he was last in Vietnam. His answer: “Last night.” Gold’s mind absorbed the language, the customs, and the history to the point of it all becoming a part of her. She proved that in her service to both her country and the country of Afghanistan. And she acted on her internal beliefs to the point of putting her life at risk, which brings one of the most intense parts of the book.  

The intensity of this book comes from the fact that Author Young doesn’t keep his characters, hence his readers, out of harm’s way, which gets complicated by the fact that knowing just who to trust is a major problem in the war in Afghanistan. They are trying to fight a Taliban group, called the Black Crescent, which is attacking medical workers, shooting down helicopters, and killing those who are accepting aid. Without enough troops, supplies, or information, Parson, Gold, and Parson’s crews do the best possible to fight what seems to be an invisible evil force.

Young states that he had two goals in writing The Renegades: 1) to write an entertaining story, and 2) “to convey something about the motivations and mind-sets of American servicemen and –women.” As a reader of The Renegades, I feel that Tom Young has definitely met both of his goals.

Reviewed by: Joyce M. Gilmour (2012)


Author's Synopsis

A catastrophic earthquake ravages Afghanistan, and American troops rush to deliver aid. In his new role as an adviser to the Afghan Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson faces one of the biggest challenges of his career, aided by his interpreter, Sergeant Major Sophia Gold. The devastation facing them is like nothing they've ever seen--and it's about to get worse.

A Taliban splinter group, Black Crescent, is conducting its own campaign--shooting medical workers, downing helicopters, slaughtering anyone who dares to accept aid. With the U.S. drawing down and coalition forces spread thin, it's up to Parson, Gold, and Parson's Afghan aircrews to strike back. But they're short of supplies, men, experience, and information--and the terrorists seem to be nowhere...and everywhere.