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What would it be like to have one's brain blown open and body sheared by an IED to the point where everything shifts physically, mentally and emotionally? How does one and one's family deal with the aftermath with all the possible implications of possible infection, complications, recovery and/or death? In An Instant is that story, described by Bob as a reworking of the brain, "...like seeing the top of a mountain from a path, but without the ability to find the way up...by taking one step at a time, little by little, I realize I can still get there..."
Lee and Bob's story is starkly told from two perspectives not only of voice but also interweaving the past with the present. Their story begins with the devastating event that so dramatically changed their lives, the explosion of that IED on an Iraqi road where Bob was working as an embedded journalist/anchor for ABC News. Lee is a respected public relations executive and freelance editor whose career has evolved with the multiple changes of Bob's career from high-paid lawyer to executive anchor man for a top notch news service.
Bob and Lee do a superb job of carrying the reader through history as Bob's teaching law stint in China allows him to enter the world of journalism first as a "fixer" during the Tiananmen Square crisis and later as anchor during numerous other smaller and larger historical, pivotal events including 911, the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and more. They are skilled writers who know how to convey the excitement, peril and significance of these events.
At the same time, In An Instant is the story of the "Landstuhl survivors," a group of family members trying to deal with the multiple demands of a challenging career and now of a devastating crisis enough to break the toughest spirits. Their story is told with honesty, intelligence and a specificity that renders the reader humbled and highly respectful of this daunting experience that has reshaped not only the Woodruff family but continues to affect numerous other families of soldiers and journalists serving in Iraq.
The best nonfiction work this reviewer has read in a very long time!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on March 5, 2008