four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
14-Jan-Feb-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-WarlordsSonFive weeks after 9/11, newspaper correspondent Stan Kelly (aka Skelly) is given a last-chance assignment to cover the war on terror. He hires Najeeb as a guide/translator to get him into Afghanistan. What he doesn’t realize is that his new friend is both an outcast from his tribal clan (for conducting an illicit affair with a woman who resists her arranged marriage) and an unwilling informer for the Pakistani secret police. As part of a warlord’s entourage, Skelly endures a harrowing journey into the war-torn countryside of Pakistan that brings them closer to Afghanistan. But politics, kidnapping, media frenzy, and a shocking revelation all conspire to test their bond and to end each man’s quest for redemption.
Knopf. 336 pages. $23. ISBN: 0375414738

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"While on the one hand, The Warlord’s Son is a story of intrigue with plots to make Machiavelli proud coupled with astounding cruelty, it is also about the universal human traits of the bonds among friends, lovers and families." Tom Walker

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"While the plot has its merits, the insider’s perspective of one of the most troubled spots on the globe is what turns this book into a riveting and sometimes frightening read. … The story takes us inside the lives of wartime journalists while re-creating an alien world increasingly relevant to our own lives. And it does so in an enlightening and entertaining manner." Pat MacEnulty

Sunday Telegraph 4 of 5 Stars
"Fesperman’s experience as a war correspondent, together with his powers of description and characterization, produce an utterly compelling thriller and quite simply the best book I’ve read all year." Susanna Yager

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"A terrific novel of intrigue, duplicity and death. … [It] offers a brilliant picture of what might be called the journalistic condition—specifically, the joys, absurdities and horrors of the foreign correspondent’s life—and it will teach you more than you ever expected to know about tribesmen for whom violence is a given and betrayal is an art." Patrick Anderson

Economist 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… a convincing, accurate thriller. … This book is worth reading if only for the passage where the hero glimpses Osama bin Laden at a public hanging; the scene both convinces and frightens."

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"A first-rate geopolitical yarn. … Fesperman combines his strong eye for detail with bleak film-noir cynicism, managing to make plot twists that could have felt contrived seem depressingly believable." Andrew Johnston

Critical Summary

Fesperman, a Baltimore Sun reporter, has proven himself a superb storyteller with critically acclaimed novels to his credit. Critics agreed that he stays on the right track with this latest thriller; some even call it his best work to date. Most cited the strong believability of the journalistic situations, the convincing sense of place the author conveys (Fesperman actually worked as a correspondent in Afghanistan), and the hair raising conclusion as a model for how to enthrall fans of the genre. Many also cited the novel’s dark, bleak outlook, while commenting that it, too, is true to life.

Also by the Author

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows (2004): 4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2004. A former homicide detective relocates with his family to Berlin rather than remain in his native war-torn Bosnia.