Book Review: Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli

Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli

Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli: One Marine’s Fight For the Heart of Afghanistan, Maximilian Uriarte. Little Brown and Company (July 28, 2020)

Here is something very different from other books that have been reviewed here on VT.  This is the latest graphic novel and a return to form for New York Times bestselling author and creator of the military’s most popular comic strip, Terminal Lance, Maximilian Uriarte. Uriarte both wrote and illustrated Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli.

His debut full-length graphic novel, The White Donkey, is an honest, funny, and compulsively page-turning tribute to the experience of war and PTSD and the first graphic novel about the war in Iraq from a veteran.

Battle Born is a heartbreaking and visceral graphic novel set against the stark beauty of Afghanistan’s mountain villages that examines prejudice and the military remnants of colonialism. Lapis Lazuli is a rich blue semiprecious gemstone found deep in the Sar-i-sang mountains of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province. For thousands of years it has sustained the nearby mining villages, whose inhabitants lived peacefully in the mountainous landscape–until the Taliban, known in the region as the Horsemen, came to seek the riches stored deep beneath the earth. Taliban rule has turned the stone into a conflict mineral, as they steal and sell it for their own gain.

At the request of the fledgling Afghan government, seeking to gain back control of the province, United States Marines are sent into the mountains. A platoon led by their eager and naive commander, First Lieutenant Roberts, and a stoic, fierce squad leader, Sergeant King, must overcome barriers of language and culture in this remote region to win the locals’ trust, and their freedom from Taliban rule. Along the way, they must also wrestle with their demons–and face unimaginably difficult choices.

Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli is an epic saga from the voice of a new generation of military veterans about kindness, brutality, and the remains of colonialism.

About the author: Maximilian Uriarte is an artist living in Los Angeles. An Oregon native, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2006 at the age of 19 and deployed to Iraq twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While still active duty, he created the hit webcomic “Terminal Lance” in 2010, which became a viral success as well as the most popular comic strip in the United States military.

In 2016, Maximilian Uriarte and Little, Brown & Co. released the world’s first graphic novel about Iraq ever written and illustrated by an Iraq veteran, “The White Donkey: Terminal Lance.”

Maximilian Uriarte

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