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The Girl in Green

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,209 ratings  ·  371 reviews
From the author of Norwegian by Night, and Short Listed for the 2017 CWA Gold Dagger Award, a novel about two men on a misbegotten quest to save the girl they failed to save decades before

1991. Near Checkpoint Zulu, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who reports from war zones in part to avoid his l
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Derek Miller A good person to read about the challenges of comparative vs absolute ratings, in my view, is Roger Ebert, the late film critic. He wrote thoughtfully…moreA good person to read about the challenges of comparative vs absolute ratings, in my view, is Roger Ebert, the late film critic. He wrote thoughtfully on rating films and the inherent challenge of using only four stars (in that case). This is why Blazing Saddles and Citizen Kane both received four stars from him (and I agree).

Because of the way of the internet works, most authors — who sincerely believe in their work, as I do — feel almost forced to leave a star rating on goodreads because (unfortunately) the goodreads rating will be among the first hits on a search long before the book is even published. With all the trolling and banter on the internet, writers who dedicated years of their lives (with support from partners and children, among a litany of dedicated professionals all facing a tough industry) may find one -and two-star "reviews" undermining the lauch of their novels by people who never read them. This happens often. I don't know why.

I believe that an author marking his or her work looks far less bad, in the long run, than the unnecessary damage that can be caused by deliberately destructive ratings (as opposed to actual bad ones, which tend to cluster in terms of their logic and coherence). As a result, the decision to put a five-star rating is a tactical one to protect the possibility of a promising launch.

I hope, Jeniwren, this provides some insight.

Best wishes,

Derek B. Miller(less)
Mary Lins If you get an Amazon or Barnes and Nobel gift card for Christmas - IMO, this is the book to get with it!

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Diane S ☔
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Exploring the many different agencies, the political nightmare of trying to understand the many different cultures and the religious beliefs of each, Miller has invented two very unique and quite likable characters, Arrowood and Benson. When they first meet the Gulf War has ended, at least ended as far as the United States is concerned, now turning to a peace keeping role, but as far as the infighting between the different tribes are concerned, there is no peace. Arrowood Hobbs, a young private ...more
Iris P
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy international and political thrillers
Recommended to Iris P by: Betsy Robinson
The Girl in Green

Frequently novels include a disclaimer that goes something like: "This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." The disclaimer in The Girl In Green simply states: "Inspired by many actual events"

Sometimes a book is just a work of fiction and sometimes you come across a story that, although technically fictional, it is quite a challenge to draw the line between myth and reality. Indeed, soon after you start read
...more
Betsy Robinson
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Mary Lins
This is a sometimes Catch 22-esque war story by heavily-credentialed specialist in international affairs Derek B. Miller. It takes place during the Desert Storm Gulf War and then 22 years later. The banter and almost-casual profundity of the narrative are spectacularly funny and wonderful, the tension is palpable, the writing is both solid and spontaneous, and the meaning so timely I want to scream, "Thank you!"

Not a spoiler because I won't give a context, but my big aha from this book is how m
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☮Karen
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
What I love about this author is his ability to formulate outstanding sentences, to illustrate his ideas with intelligence and an immaculate sense of humor. Those sentences were scattered throughout, yet I had difficulty seeing them as a cohesive story. It felt uneven to me. After loving his first book so much, I never expected to struggle with this one. The subject matter undoubtedly was my main problem, with Desert Storm being over but not really over, and the various Iraqi factions that I've ...more
Marianne
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Girl in Green is the second novel by American novelist and international policy specialist, Derek B. Miller. It’s late March 1991, and United States Army Private Arwood Hobbes is at the northern edge of Checkpoint Zulu, “maintaining a vigilant perimeter” in Iraq’s newly-brokered peace, when a British journalist from the Times wanders up.

Thomas Benton is a seasoned war correspondent who’s after the story from a local perspective. With some encouragement from Arwood, he walks toward nearby Sa
...more
Carolyn
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, war, humour
When British Journalist Thomas Benton meets US soldier Arwood Hobbes in 1991 at Checkpoint Zulu near the Kuwaiti border where he is part of the force remaining to keep the peace after the end of Desert Storm, he sets in train events that culminate 22 years later in a dangerous and daring rescue mission. Benton wanders off to a nearby village hoping for some local stories and gets caught up in a mortar attack on the village by local insurgents at the start of what will become the Iraqi civil war. ...more
Jill
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inhumanity
Welcome to post-war Iraq, where it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish the war from the so-called peace. Derek B. Miller has worked on international peace and security of diplomatic missions and the United Nations, and it shows. His book has the ring of authenticity, which makes for mesmerizing reading.

The novel starts in 1991,when two men – a British war journalist named Thomas Benton and a fearless and possibly unhinged American private named Arwood Hobbes, meet at Checkpoint Zulu, close t
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"It has been said that the US army was designed by geniuses to be run by idiots."

It isn’t every writer that accomplishes what this author did: grip me from the first to last pages. Miller’s cinematic and CATCH-22-esque story is suspenseful, and the prose is lucid and muscular. The thrilling plot threads, the robust characters, and the enduring themes develop with a fluent and resonant rhythm, keeping me fastened to the book at every turn. I wanted to call in sick rather than ever put it down! I
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Mary Lins
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
READ THIS! READ THIS! PLEASE, EVERYBODY READ THIS!

Is "The Girl in Green", by Derek B. Miller, an action-paced thriller? Yes!
Is it a literary tour de force? Yes!
Is it timely? Yes!
Is it a satire? Yes!
Is it a farce? Yes!
Is it hilarious? Yes!
Is it heartbreaking? Yes!
Is it this Century's "Catch 22"? Yes!

Miller grabbed me at the first paragraph and never let me go! What a talent! Miller's writing style and narrative "voice" are unique, crystal clear, and both witty AND weighty. I laughed many many tim
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Monica
The Girl in Green was a good novel about the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Syria. Miller seems to have a handle on the people/culture of the region. He gives that impression because he adds nuance to his characterizations that one would only notice if they knew the culture. Otherwise you find yourself, like me going "That's really interesting". Miller's knowledge of the Middle East is the highlight of the book.

The book is a very masculine tale of white saviors. A couple of good ole boys sh
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Kate
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not often I give a book five stars so when I do it is because the book has really made me think or feel more than anything else I have read recently, not because it will one day become a classic or it is a book that will be studied in school classrooms for years to come, but because of what it meant to me, right here, right now.
I work in a bookshop and I read a lot. I read good books. I read books that make me wonder how they ever got published in the first place. I read books that make me
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Roman Clodia
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"There are always reasons, Jamal, but not justifications": thus Arwood Hobbes, the improbable moral centre of this intense and brilliant novel set amidst the chaos of Syria and Iraq. Miller knows what he's talking about and the story drips with authenticity from the aid workers to the various armies, the refugees to the journalists. It would have been easy for this to be sanctimonious and hand-wringing but the style is lit by a cynical, acidic humour that reminded me irresistably of Catch-22: th ...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is not a book to choose if you’re looking for some light entertainment or to curl up with on a cold night for a feel-good story. But if you’re looking for an in-depth and insightful literary experience related to the incredibly complex nature of Middle-eastern affairs then this would be a wise choice.

Two main characters drive the plot: the American, Arwood Hobbes, whom we first meet as a US Army private manning Checkpoint Zulu at the very end of Desert Storm in 1991. There he meets a Britis
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Marianne
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Girl in Green is the second novel by American novelist and international policy specialist, Derek B. Miller. The audio version is read by Robert Slade. It’s late March 1991, and United States Army Private Arwood Hobbes is at the northern edge of Checkpoint Zulu, “maintaining a vigilant perimeter” in Iraq’s newly-brokered peace, when a British journalist from the Times wanders up.

Thomas Benton is a seasoned war correspondent who’s after the story from a local perspective. With some encourage
...more
Lori
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Derek B. Miller is an international policy specialist. He’s an expert on the history, culture and political systems of countries he studies. In other words ... he’s up on current events! "The Girl In Green" takes place at the end of the Gulf War in 1991 and perfectly captures the complicated Iraq-Syria relations and the West’s failure to provide relief to the desperate plight of refugees left from the affects of war. Private Arwood Hobbes and Brittish journalist Thomas Benton witness the slaught ...more
Alex Cantone
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, read-2016
In 1991, at Checkpoint Zulu Southern Iraq after Operation Desert Storm, American soldier Arwood Hobbes meets "Times" reporter Thomas Benton, the one bored, the other itching to find out the real story. Benton reaches a Shi'ite town only to be bombarded by Sunni helicopter gunships. He tries to reach the safety of the checkpoint with 'the girl in green' and Hobbes deserts his post to help. They are surrounded by insurgents and the girl is shot dead in cold blood.

Fast forward 22 years. Benton rece
...more
Ken Fredette
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This time I'm back in 1972 when I was overseas in the service in Turkey. The people there weren't interested in traveling the world like American's were. Derek B. Miller creates characters that seem to come out of the Korean War in the TV series Mash. Only 40 years later. It's 1991 and the aftermath of the Kuwaiti war a journalist, Thomas Benton, meets an American private, Arwood Hobbes. And they see some action where a young girl dies in Arwood's arms. We take a sabbatical for 22 years and Arwo ...more
Paltia
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Arwood and Thomas - what a dynamic duo. Follow them on their adventures in the Middle East as they, and the lucky others in their orbit, attempt to show they can dance and rock and roll. This would make a great movie. Lots of suspense and laugh out loud comic relief. Some, in the story, and in real life, think of Arwood as a ‘troglodyte’. I, on the other hand would love to hang out with him any day. He’s a hero.
Jeanette Lewis
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful but disturbing read. Disturbing because it highlights the impact of war on everyone's lives, even for those who try to return to normal lives. Arwood Hobbes has joined the American Army and as the read opens he is bored to death propping himself up on a gun that he has never used. His company is deployed at Checkpoint Zulu, 240 kms from Kuwaiti. Peace has been declared, Desert Storm is over. Thomas Benton, English War Correspondent joins Hobbes and in conversation points out ...more
Jeanette
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Well written and gritty. It reminds me in more than one way to Catch-22. Especially in the tone, and in the basic vulnerability of the protagonists. The two main characters are superbly framed and not cardboard or cartoon like.

But I thought too that several aspects were just too contrived, convenient to pass reality muster. I know too many desert vets and men/women like my brother who have done more than double stints.

Human life is not held to equal values; not even when it is "ours". Regardle
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Cindy
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Goodreads win! At checkpoint Zulu near the Kuwait border 2 men, a journalist and an American soldier, attempt to save a young girl in a green dress. Unfortunately they witness her brutal murder. Twenty years later they have the opportunity to once again save a girl in a green dress. Both men are obsessed as they seek to rid themselves of guilt. This is just the tip of the iceberg as the author, Derek Miller, keeps us in the middle east where war and peace are indistinguishable. I learned so mu ...more
Brendan Monroe
Why did I carry on with this one? I'm really not sure. Like the doughnut I had for breakfast, it's full of empty calories and I regret it in hindsight.

But it's even worse than that because, unlike the doughnut, I didn't even enjoy it at the time. It was just easy, far too easy, and I raced through solely in order to finish it, when I really should have just stopped after 30-some-pages as you can see it all coming a mile away.

Monica, another GR reviewer here, referred to this as "dick lit" and t
...more
Jayesh Naithani
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Other Girl in Green.

A Middle-East thriller. Inspired by actual events. Circumstances, relationship, consequences, drama in Samawah, Dohuk, Mosul, Sinjar - in Iraq. Mixing fiction with facts, myth with reality and deftly blurring the lines between the two with some fantastic storytelling.
Emilie Morscheck
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thank you for my giveaway copy!

Reading this book was an adventure into the kind of world I'd never experienced before. The war in Iraq mainly occurred while I was a child, and therefore my knowledge of the period is limited. However, I don't a lack of knowledge will stop what intended to be a thriller, not a history lesson. Miller does an excellent job at filling in the gaps, explaining the more important parts of the history of the middle east. His inspiration was borne from his PhD dissertatio
...more
Stephanie Anze
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded to 4

Its 1991 and Arthur Hobbes is a US soldier manning the line that divides Checkpoint Zulu and the Kuwait border. When Thomas Benton, a British journalist, approaches him, they begin a rather honest conversation about the end of the (Dessert Storm) war and the "peace" that follows. Benton mentions he would like to cross the Kuwait border for a few hours, to take some pictures and talk to the locals. Hobbes does not deter him. When he does cross, insurgents attack, chaos ensues and
...more
Anne ✨
This book should be SO MUCH better KNOWN than it is!!!

I myself had not heard of this author before a Goodreads friend recommended him, and I'm so glad to have discovered him. While I would not normally gravitate towards political/war books, The Girl in Green is a really engaging fictional yet realistic story that is haunting and complex, and highly insightful about the political climate of Iraq-Syria-US relations during and after the Gulf War in 1991. The story has an intense setting and suspen
...more
Kasa Cotugno
Definitely one of the best books of the year, and January's only a week old. Miller wrote one of the best books of recent years, Norwegian by Night, a book that remains years after being read, and this promises to do the same. His first-hand experiences and authorship maturity combine to produce thoughtful books, but Girl in Green is a true rarity -- one that resonates with reports from the nightly news and yet provides insights beyond the camera. The frontpiece provides what will haunt a reader ...more
Kathryn
2.5★ Mostly fairly ordinary, although some parts got a bit interesting. Being set mainly in the Middle East, there was more politics than I was perhaps prepared for. And since I was listening as an audiobook, I couldn't flip back and forth to remind myself of what was happening, so some of that went over my head.

But there were also some holes toward the end where I didn't feel things were explained as well as they could have been - unless they were explained and I missed them if my mind drifted.
...more
GeneralTHC
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.25-stars

If THE GIRL IN GREEN doesn’t at least make the Man Booker shortlist later this year, I’ll eat my hat. This is education through fiction at its best, really: You set out to be entertained, which you are, but you also learn some stuff during the journey. And given the topic it’s oh-so timely as well. A lot of people would do well to read this one (about 40 percent of America, for starters).
Paul Lockman
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After recently enjoying Norwegian by Night recently, I just had to read The Girl in Green. The main characters are Thomas Benton, a British journalist and Arwood Hobbes, a disaffected US army officer. Marta, a Swedish humanitarian aid worker also appears regularly. The first brief section of the book is set in the Gulf War in the early 1990s near the border of Iraq and Kuwait, then the majority of the book is set some 20 years later when circumstances bring the three of them together again in Ir ...more
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Derek B. Miller is an American novelist and international policy specialist. He is the author Norwegian by Night, The Girl in Green, American by Day, Radio Life, Quiet Time, and How to Find Your Way in the Dar.

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“I’m starting to think,” he eventually continued, “that maybe we leave parts of ourselves behind in certain situations—some essential piece of ourselves that we have to cut off, otherwise there’s no way out. The future becomes a kind of journey to discover what you might actually have left behind and what you’re supposed to do about it. It’s more than trauma. It’s like a phantom limb, but with a piece of your soul.” 1 likes
“the only thing worse than evil was deciding that evil didn’t matter.” 1 likes
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