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The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  2,933 Ratings  ·  305 Reviews
"One of the most thoughtful and honest accounts ever written by a young Army officer confronting all the tests of life." -Bob Woodward
In this surprise bestseller, West Point grad, Rhodes scholar, Airborne Ranger, and U. S. Army Captain Craig Mullaney recounts his unparalleled education and the hard lessons that only war can teach. While stationed in Afghanistan, a deadly
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
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Aug 04, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I live in California, and like most of the population in my town, I am as far to the left politically as it is possible to get. I have always had a negative view of the military in general and in particular, of the kind of person who would volunteer for it. It has seemed to me to be the sort of thing men (and to a lesser extent women) do who want to have power over others, and who need to feel superior to others. Needless to say, news from Abu Ghraib did nothing to change my perception of this. ...more
The title of Mullaney’s autobiographical account refers to a passage from Rudyard Kipling’s “If.”

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Craig Mullaney has written a thoroughly compelling account of his passage through West Point, graduate work at Oxford, and platoon leader in Afghanistan, a turbulent, but growth-filled period of his life. Frequently, I found myse
Sep 26, 2012 Shana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just finished The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education by Craig M. Mullaney this evening as I rode the stationary bike. In an attempt to understand Jack’s world, I have been drawn to books about military life. Typically this means reading books about military wives, but for some reason this book felt appropriate. It follows Mullaney as he enter West Point, studies at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and ends up in Afghanistan post-9/11. You see him grow as a member of the Army and read about t ...more
Oct 04, 2009 Louis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, biography
The Unforgiving Minute is about the training of Captain Craig Mullaney, U.S. Army. Craig starts out at West Point as part of training to be an infantry officer. He does the usual path of West Point and Ranger school, but also takes a detour, to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. And then to find out if the training was right, be leads men in battle in Afghanistan as part of the American effort in Operations Enduring Freedom.

Two underlying questions: First, was the best leadership education that the Uni
I liked getting the perspective of a West Point cadet, an Oxford scholar, and Afghanistan-stationed soldier. Craig Mullaney is not your average soldier (at least, not the idea of an "average" soldier I have in my head). After all, how many soldiers can say they spent time as a Rhodes scholar? Mullaney's intelligence comes through this book, especially in his choice of chapter epigraphs from the likes of Shakespeare and Dante. He ruminates about the notions of courage and bravery and what it take ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Craig Mullaney grew up in South County, RI, graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School, attended West Point and Ranger School, studied at Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, and served in Afghanistan after 9/11. This memoir of his experiences in West Point and beyond is an evolving self-portrait of an intellectual young man who is strong of heart, mind and body, and who earns our respect as we watch him struggle to succeed at becoming a soldier, a scholar, and a man.

The Unforgiving Minute has r
Jun 25, 2012 Jerome rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A better title for Captain Mullaney's "The Unforgiving Minute" would be Professor Mullaney the Intellectual goes to War.

I am a reader who usually enjoys war narratives, and 'experiencing' things and places through books. However, I thought the book was heavy on boring detail, and the interesting parts could have been done in short story format. The pages and pages of details about such minor things as meals, weather, clothes, cooking, boring recounted conversations, haircuts, whatever, all shoul
Dec 30, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over the long holiday weekend. I found it strangely compelling and much better than I expected. A relatively simple memoir of a soldier who happens to be about my age (late 20s, early 30ish,) the books covers his journey and eventual deployment as an infantry lieutenant in Afghanistan after 9/11.

Mullaney is an interesting author however, he came from a squarely blue collar New England family that I found easily to relate to. His family didn't have a history of military service a
Jul 09, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A West Point graduate (2nd in his class), Army Ranger, Rhodes scholar, world traveler, veteran of Afghanistan, and history professor at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Mr. Mullaney has plenty of interesting material for this autobiography.

I never knew what it took to be a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, and was really impressed by the discipline and hard work required. This glimpse into the life of a soldier really opened my eyes and gave me a new respect for the men and women who do these
Jul 03, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
Eloquent, engaging, enchanting, emotional. So much for my "e"literation of this powerful and compelling personal memoir. It takes its title from Chapter 29, page 279; a title which attracted me to place it on hold at my library several months ago. So after several months of patiently waiting it arrives and I am initially disappointed. I am going to have to wade through a personal narrative starting at Plebe Summer West Point. Been there, done that. However, once starting I quickly realize that t ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I normally do not read anything in the military genre mostly because it's just too hard to read. I saw Craig Mullaney on The Daily Show and the interview was compelling enough that I checked the book out from the library.

This is an exceptional book. Mullaney writes about his time at West Point, going to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and leading a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan, all before he turned 25. The book follows through with his life after war - ge
Apr 28, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true story written of the experiences of a Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. There is not as much war as one might expect but rather life's experiences. I loved, laughed, and cried as I read this book. Thinking objectively I suppose this book will be more meaningful to those who have lived this life or one similar, to have had these experiences. If it can be read will an open heart it will help those who have never served in the military understand the service per ...more
Jul 31, 2009 Sheehan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written autobiography, chronicling the life of an Officer's life in the Army and personal growth associated with leading men into battle.

The book made me continue to re-evaluate preconceived notions I have about the military. Oral histories and autobiographies, this one especially, provide a depth of understanding of the individual experience that is lost in a lot of the more polemical books I have read about war in general.

Yes, war is wasteful, often engaged in lightly by those in power an
Sep 15, 2009 MaryHelen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This beautifully written biography was a learning experience for me. The author detailed his life experiences as the child from a working-class family, a West Point cadet and graduate, an Army Ranger school graduate, a Rhodes scholar who earned two masters degrees at Oxford, an Afghanistan veteran of firefights and other challenges, and finally as a teacher of history at the U.S. Naval Academy. It is humbling to realize how dedicated our professional soliders must be and how complete is their ed ...more
A clearly written, emotionally and culturally revealing memoir of one self-disciplined person's young adult experiences as he pursues a military career. Not only does Mullaney attend West Point, he also pursues Ranger training, becomes a Rhodes Scholar (studying at Oxford before and after 9/11), and then serves in Afghanistan. Mullaney, a Catholic Rhode Islander, includes his emotionally complex father-son relationship as well as his interfaith challenges winning over his future wife (a medical ...more
Destined to be a classic - this is a powerful, eloquent, and enlightening book. Knowing a fair amount about the rigors of some of his training, I am humbled by Captain Mullaney's ferocious drive and toughness, although his recounting of events includes his failings and mistakes as well as his successes and is sometimes hilarious at his own expense. From the perspective of middle age, I'm also humbled at the degree of wisdom he has somehow reached in his 20s. I hope to see more books from him, as ...more
5-stars. I loved this book. Craig's journey from West Point to graduate studies, to leading men as an infantry officer, to courting a spouse from a different culture are all experiences I could relate with intimately. I know most of the mentors Craig mentions and felt proud to see how they mentored and influenced Craig. Craig's love of history and literature shape his view of the world and his leadership role - I wish I could have learned this at his young age. Instead it took me twenty years to ...more
Andrew Chin
Mar 26, 2016 Andrew Chin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gives you a perspective on a soldier's life.
THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE: A Soldier’s Education, (2009) by Craig M. Mullaney is a well-written, honest, account of war. It is soul-searching, heart rendering and a page-turner. Mullaney is a West Point graduate, An Army Ranger, a Rhodes scholar, a combat veteran of Afghanistan, and a professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy. I think everyone should read this book. I give it five stars. That said, I think it would be better titled: A Soldier’s Education: Men Behaving Badly. For all his formal ...more
I picked up The Unforgiving Minute as it was on the 2014 U.S. Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List. As I've mentioned before, I love to read fiction for fun but I was commuting an hour to work each way so I decided to listen to audiobooks to pass the time. I thought it would benefit me professionally to read the books recommended by the leader of my branch of service. This book became available in April and I listened to it over the course of a week.

The Unforgiving Minute is the memoi
Eric Polleys
Feb 08, 2011 Eric Polleys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Craig M. Mullaney’s The Unforgiving Minute is a recent masterpiece that surpasses Jarhead by a large amount. I have read both books now and Jarhead fell short with its description of minor details and way of grabbing the reader. Previously to reading this book, I did not feel this way about Jarhead. It was Mullaney’s writing skills that made me realize this is what a nonfiction combat book should be like. Starting off with the intensity of the leaders at west Point where he was trained brings t ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a few of my favorite quotes interlaced in his book:

"We all have but one death to spend." - John Alexander Hottell III

"One must learn to endure what one cannot avoid."

"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." - Afghan Proverb

"Your heart I take in mine. Whatever is in your heart shall be in mine, whatever is in mine shall be yours. Our hearts shall be one, our minds shall be one. May God make us one." - Panigrahana Vow

Perhaps because I'm dating a Captain in the US Army who also happened t
Sep 05, 2010 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the autobiography of a young man who trained/studied at West Point, Ranger School, and Oxford and then served as an infantry officer in Afghanistan in 2003. The "Student" section is by far the longest and most intriguing -- the arcane traditions and rigid discipline of West Point and the unfathomable physical challenges of Ranger School. Mullaney gives an honest account of how much his training did, and did not, prepare him for war. (Many of the training missions seemed to replicate Viet ...more
Intelligent and introspective, Craig Mullaney's memoir, The Unforgiving Minute, takes the reader from Mullaney's first year at West Point to the end of his military career after having served a tour in Afghanistan. As the subtitle indicates, the primary theme of the memoir is Mullaney's education and development into a soldier-scholar.

I cannot praise highly enough Mullaney's tone and intelligent voice that is strikingly apparent throughout the pages. He tries to downplay his accomplishments (sal
Nov 28, 2014 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney tells the story I was expecting: one man’s perspective on being a soldier and the lessons he learned along the way. I was not, however, expecting the author to begin the story at West Point—well before his active service. In fact Mullaney’s life as a graduate student at Oxford, world travels and intimate details seem to stray far and wide from the initial reason I picked up the book. Perhaps the author did incorporate a little too much personal drama, but ...more
John Edwards
Jan 24, 2011 John Edwards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-memoirs
I was really blown away by this young author. I first saw Craig Mullaney on Jon Stewart promoting this in hardcover and was thoroughly impressed by him. Finally got around to purchasing and reading the paperback.

Mullaney was a graduate of West Point, class of 2000. Like the class of 1966 that went to Vietnam, Mullaney's class graduated before conflict began after the 9/11 attacks. The attacks occur after he finished Airborn Ranger Training (which was fascinating, and by far the most interesting
Jack Sagrillo
Dec 15, 2012 Jack Sagrillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack Sagrillo

The Unforgiving Minute

By Craig Mullaney

On the Pakistan Afghanistan at Losano ridge Captain Craig Mullaney of the army's 10th mountain division enters a fierce firefight with Al-Qaeda fighters. He and his platoon fight for several hours then one of his men is killed in the battle. The Unforgiving Minute is a thrilling, informative, and also sad but it shows the path of one man’s journey through the military. It follows Craig through his college years at West Point. While at West Poin
Laura Gomezllanos
Ivanna Reyes
Honors American Literature
Period 6

Book Review

Mullaney's "The Unforgiving Minute" (A soldier's education) really captured my attention.

Written with fearless honesty this book is an unforgettable portrait of a young soldier struggling with the weight of his hard-earned knowledge, while at last coming to the terms with what it really means to be a man. A West Point graduate, Rhodes Scholar and Army Ranger, recounts his unique education and struggles with the hard
Aug 28, 2010 Gregory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction

I read Craig Mullaney's The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education, and enjoyed it. It is a memoir about how Mullaney went to West Point, then to Oxford, and finally to Afghanistan in the early period of the war. It is a very personal, nuanced and uncompromising view of what being an officer means. As he is aware, he is therefore opening himself up to criticism regarding his judgment and decisions--read some of the Amazon reviews to get a sense of
Apr 09, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like memoirs
Shelves: memoirs, 2009-list
This author grew up in Rhode Island and went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, like my oldest son. He went on to become an infantry officer and served in Afghanistan about 5 years ago. (I believe that is the timeframe, anyway.) And if those two connections weren't enough, it turns out that the author is befriended by a priest we know who was at our parish until his assignment changed last year. Now, I don't buy many books these days. Sometimes I will purchase a craft book if i ...more
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Books That Furthered a Soldier’s Education 1 24 Jun 23, 2009 12:32PM  
A Soldier’s Education: Interview with Craig Mullaney 1 17 Jun 23, 2009 12:23PM  
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