PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesLanguage is central to Dirty Bird Blues--how it echoes from the folk traditions Banks brought north from Georgia, how it bubbles up from the joys and sorrows of his own life, how African American speech continues to shape the majority dialect in ways today’s rappers have demonstrated all over again ... Major excels at descriptions of manual labor--which at least was available in the 1950s for men without diplomas--and of the hard-pressed cohesiveness of the black community before civil rights laws but also before crack cocaine.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesA sharp eye and a generous heart distinguish this memoir ... Obama is anything but a solipsist; he is always looking beyond himself, at family, community, the wider world ... A polished writer, with a novelist’s skill in describing a place or a person and framing a scene. What his eye sees--often critically--his heart forgives: a compelling double vision ... So vividly does Obama portray other people, male and female, that his own story proceeds almost underground.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesMarlantes paces the novel expertly, stringing together a rising series of climaxes that ends in Bravo Company's thrilling, heartbreaking assault on Matterhorn. Mellas indeed proves himself as a ‘bush Marine,’ but he learns things about himself most people never have to face. He's capable of killing. In some circumstances, he even enjoys it … Like Christian existentialists who cling to their faith precisely because it seems absurd, Mellas and his fellow Marines try to create their own meaning out of sorrow and memory and the traditions of the Corps. They turn inward and refuse to see that the antiwar movement has its own brand of courage and idealism. Even today, Marlantes seems to view the protesters as little more than rich kids hiding behind their deferments. It's a notable blind spot in a morally and psychologically sophisticated novel that does so many other things so well.