Book Quote:

“Pat Tillman understood that outside the wire, bad things happen. But he was an optimist. Archetypically American, he was confident that right would prevail over wrong. When he swore the oath of enlistment in the summer of 2002, he trusted that those responsible for sending him into battle would do so in good faith. At the time, he didn’t envisage that any of them would trifle with his life, or misrepresent the facts of his death, in order to farther careers or advance a political agenda.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (JUL 27, 2010)

Where Men Win Glory, by Jon Krakauer, is a book about several things – Pat Tillman, the NFL, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. army and its role in Pat Tilman’s death, friendly fire during wars, and the history of our involvement in the Middle East. Each of these topics is covered in a wonderfully page-turning manner, with the reader not wanting to put the book down. At the same time, Krakauer provides a huge amount of information that may be new, surprising or downright horrific.

Pat Tilllman was raised in Almaden, California to a family of free thinkers who encouraged their children to be individualists and speak their minds. Pat always had an opinion about something and was never shy in sharing it. He had a lot of faith in himself and his ability to perform well in whatever he chose to do. As a youth and a young man, he chose to excel in athletics, first baseball and later, football. Pat was not built like the typical football player. He was smaller but he was fast, agile, and had an uncanny ability to predict his opponents’ next moves. This made him a good football player, so good in fact that he played college football and moved on to the major NFL leagues where several teams competed to have him play for them.

Pat was a rather wild young man in his youth who liked to drink, carouse and occasionally fight. He was taught that honor and revenge were both admirable. At one point in his young life he got into a misguided fight that changed his life. He ended up in prison for a very short time and realized that he wanted to spend his days more productively. He started to read a lot, choosing from classics such as Emerson, Homer and Chomsky. He was rarely seen without a book in his hands. He also was an avid journaler, perspicaciously looking inward and outward in a very philosophical way.

After 9/11, Pat felt the call of patriotism and enlisted in the U.S. army, walking away from a 3.6 million dollar NFL contract in order to serve his country. He ended up in the Rangers, an elite group of army special operatives. Pat was unusual for a soldier in that he ended up not being in favor of the war he was fighting. He felt that the invasion of Iraq was a political ploy and that the U.S. should be focusing more on Afghanistan. He also understood the power of “spin” and public relations. When the army was busy using Jessica Lynch as a poster girl, Pat knew in his gut that the story behind her heroism and her rescue was skewed and that Bush was using her for P.R. to save his election from going down the tubes. Despite Pat’s personal feelings about the war, he remained a patriot and felt that he should do his utmost best all the time to defend and protect the United States. He himself would never grant interviews nor would he let the military use him in any way for public relations.

Krakauer does an excellent job in explaining the background of the war that Pat Tilman was fighting. Initially, the U.S. provided guns, ammunition, bombs and bomb-making instructions to the Taliban. This was done by the CIA during the time that the U.S. was involved in the cold war with Russia and Russia was in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. After Russia left Afghanistan in defeat, the Taliban then used the weapons and instructions the U.S. had given them for terrorist acts against the U.S. A similar story took place in Iraq, where the U.S. gave political insurgents weapons and ammunitions only to have these same insurgents turn against them.

Pat and his family were very close and Krakauer does a fine job of examining the roles that his parents, his wife, his friends and his siblings played in Pat’s development and life as a man. Interestingly, Pat’s brother Kevin enlisted in the army at the same time as Pat and they ended up serving along side each other until the day that Pat was shot at and killed by his own troop members.

Pat’s death by friendly fire and the U.S. government’s cover-up of the details and circumstances surrounding his death, make up for a large part of this book. With painstaking detail, Krakauer takes the reader through every step of Pat’s mission until the time of his death by friendly fire. Krakauer also investigates the investigators, showing how the army misled, lied, delayed and mishandled most every aspect of reporting the true circumstances of Pat’s death. Ultimately, Pat’s mother made such a tenacious case for the truth that congress became involved.

Ironically, Pat Tillman was used as a public relations vehicle in much the same way that Jessica Lynch was. Pat would have hated this. He didn’t want special treatment in the army and he certainly didn’t want the army to invoke his name as a hero for a war he didn’t support.

Krakauer does a brilliant job of utilizing Pat’s journals, interviewing his friends, family and members of the military. He provides maps, documents and has done extensive research for this book. Despite all the details, this book is accessible to any reader, even one like me who had little knowledge of many of the historical aspects of the war prior to reading this book. Pat Tillman was an amazing human being, one that I ended up admiring immensely. I thank Mr. Krakauer for bringing Mr. Tillman to life and for delivering the truth that Mr. Tillman and his family so deserved.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 470 readers
PUBLISHER: Anchor; Reprint edition (July 27, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Jon Krakauer
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
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July 29, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Afghanistan, Middle East, Non-fiction, Reading Guide

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