Review: American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Jim DeFelice, Scott McEwen

Today's review is for American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle with Jim DeFelice and Scott McEwen which I "read" by listening to the audio book edition from Audible.

Chris Kyle was in every major battle of the Iraq war and was wounded twice. He has 160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills as a sniper. You may have seen him on TV recently on Stars Earn Stripes and Sons of Guns.

Larry and I listened to this book as we were traveling across Texas a couple of weeks ago. I took the ensuing time to analyze my emotional response to the book and to figure out what I really thought about this rather unusual story of a deadly SEAL's military career.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links or the Audible Buy Links since I read most books on my Kindle or listen to them on my iPod or iPhone after purchasing from Audible. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers and audio books from iTunes so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading or your buying preference. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.

The Narrator

The very talented John Pruden is the narrator for American Sniper. He did an amazing job and offered a credible West Texas twang. He sounds very much like Chris Kyle who was born and reared in the Odessa, Texas, area. My husband, who also has that kind of Texas drawl, wasn't offended at all by the faux Texas voice.

Blurbing The Book

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions.

After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire.

Amazing long distance shots and close quarters combat are presented matter-of-factly and honestly without Kyle trying to pretty up his actions. He tells it all, dispassionately until he talks about his fellow soldiers. That's when his emotion comes across. He makes the point in the book that he didn't fight to free Iraq. He fought for his country because that's what he was ordered to do, and he fought for the lives of his fellow soldiers. These men don't get to pick and choose their battles or the way they're even used. Often politics and higher-ups create as many challenges and dangers to these warriors as the enemy.

The insurgents, the ones he called the bad guys, or savages, were the ones Kyle sought in his sniper scope. The more bad guys he could pick off; the more Americans he might save. That was the bottom line for him, and it's a bottom line I'm forced to respect.

My Thoughts

This book awed me, and it made me cry. War is hell, and that fact is never so evident as when Kyle talks about his friends who died so tragically.

I am not a person who thinks deadly force and violence are never called for. I'm a realist -- maybe because I've lived in and visited enough third world countries to know how truly idealistic and naive most Americans are. At the end of Kyle's book, he quotes something that a friend of his, another SEAL sniper who didn't make it, said: "Despite what your momma told you... Violence does solve problems."

Unfortunately, I agree with that assessment. Why unfortunately? Because I'd prefer to live in a world where diplomacy and common sense ruled, but that's not the case. Force of action and violence are what pulled the world back from Hitler's quest for world domination. My dad landed on a bloody beach on D-Day. That was the beginning of many prolonged battles he fought -- for his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers. His war experiences marked him.

Just as Chris Kyle's experiences marked him.

Soldiers like Kyle -- and like my father -- perform like super heroes on the battlefield, but the post-war is often not easily won. To do what Kyle did, a man has to compartmentalize the softer emotions. In fact, I think it's safe to say that a man must become a different person -- someone who can use violence to solve problems and use it damned fast and expertly.

In the end, what happens to that changed person when war is over is the bigger moral question.That question is unflinchingly presented by Kyle and by his wife Taya, whose viewpoint is also given in the book. Taya Kyle speaks openly about the challenges of being the wife of a SEAL, and, often, the only parent that the children may know, and about how hard it is to find the man she loves inside the returned warrior.

This book is riveting, gut-wrenching, and unforgettable. It's not just an extraordinary war memoir that gives readers a glimpse of what the whole Iraq situation is really like. It's also an emotional and moving story -- warts and all -- about a hero's journey from ordinary citizen to warrior and back to ordinary citizen -- if one could ever call an ex-Navy SEAL sniper ordinary.

Takeaway Truth

God bless and protect men who are the silent warriors.

No comments:

Post a Comment