Those are jumping off points to examine how key factors—from Old World people, places, and events to New World opportunities and challenges—shaped his development. By vividly portraying the beliefs and actions of his parents, grandmother, and great aunt under the stress of wartime, for instance, the book helps readers to themselves make connections about how genes, upbringing, and childhood experiences influenced his rise up the ranks.
Q: So, is it fair to say that what makes Boy on the Bridge unique is also the central role of character study?
A: Exactly. It seeks to show how nature and nurture combined in a most fascinating way to create someone of Shalikashvili’s unusual success and personality.
The book also keeps names, dates, and jargon to a minimum. What little exposition there is by me, the biographer, only supplements this largely character-driven biography. Further, the structure of the book is atypical, relying heavily on flashbacks and jump forwards both to make important causal connections and to heighten the drama.
In sum, it’s a book that will appeal to military and civilian circles alike.