You can take a long deep breathe and relax because today’s post has nothing to do with birds! Now, of course, if you like birds as much as I do you might be a tad disappointed, but I think in that case you have had a pretty good run as of late. Going from frequent to the rare, I have another book recollection for you. The last one was all about peace (link here), so took a book on war as the latest read. I like to maintain a good Yang and Um state – good for the soul. Somewhat ironic given the latest happenings in the world with the Waffle Boys falling all over themselves trying to save face. The offering today was recommended by a number of my friends as a great read – American Sniper by Chris Kyle. I think I might have been a victim of setting my expectations bar a little too high. The individuals that recommended this title had all read (thanks to my strong urging) the Lone Survivor book by Marcus Luttrell. They implied Chris’s book was just as entertaining which makes for some mighty big boots to fill knowing that I put Survivor in the BEST EVER reads category. Before opening this book there was a little space reserved next to it on my mental bookshelf. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you this book did not live up to those lofty expectations. On reflection it probably was not that bad, but when you get yourself so pumped for a read and it fails to captivate to a point of not wanting to put it down… well, it tends to disappoint. Lone Survivor grabbed me to the point I felt like I was right there falling down a mountain side with Marcus wondering where my rifle was going to end up. Dick Couch’s works made me feel like I was suffering through the same ordeals as our elite soldiers were experiencing during their training. In contrast I simply felt like a third person being subjected to random accounts at a guest speaker engagement. Not sure at this point whether it is the stories itself or the ability of the writer to set a compelling framework. The money bet is on the latter primarily due to reading about one encounter followed immediately by a recollection which seemed like an afterthought.. oh yeah, and this happened too. That may work in blog posts (hehehe), but does not provide for a comfortable long read.
So, here is my overall summary – Chris Kyle is one damn good shot. He is also one cocky asshole that doesn’t appreciate the decision makers above him and generally treats his family as a secondary entity to his love for the adrenaline of combat. Is this an accurate reflection of who he was? I have no idea but this is the picture the author painted for me. I can’t count the number of times I sat through the civilian bar fight paragraphs and standing up for this and not backing down from that and we have each other’s back etc. I get it and appreciate the fact he earned the right to be confident successfully making it through the training and missions. Those that don’t need to boast about it in public are the ones that demand the greatest respect – the ability to crack open a local bar patron is pretty much in my given category and not worthy of the time allocated to it in the book. The other element that kind of bothered me was the stunning admittance he put combat above family. Sure, this is understandable in the context of your first few tours, but when you have a child and you are opting up for the third – fourth etc. you have to kind of wonder if you are fulfilling duties as a Father. This is difficult for me to really harp on too much having no kids of my own and no military experience but when his own wife is quoted stating her discontent with it … you have to take it into consideration. Oh, the last comment reminded me – one nice aspect of the book was sections added from the wife’s perspective. An interesting viewpoint especially due to how unflattering a lot of them were to Chris.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Chris for his service to his country. For those that may not be aware, Chris is no longer with us. He was killed on February 2, 2013 by a someone he had brought with him to a shooting range. If I remember correctly he was trying to help out fellow soldiers suffering from PTS syndrome and guessing something might have gone terribly wrong with whoever he brought to the range that day. Chris is also the one that was in a defamation lawsuit with Jesse Ventura after Chris claimed to have punched him …. no surprise… in a bar. According to our friends at Wikipedia, Jesse is even continuing the lawsuit post death against Chris’ estate. Real class act Jesse, way to be the better man (guessing the “I ain’t got time to bleed” dude needs money for acting classes)
If you haven’t read Lone Survivor – opt for that over this book – if you have, then wait a bit for my next recollection on another book I’m currently reading. So far definitely superior to this offering.
Hit the jump for the takeaways from this read