Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous best sellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan.
Though obvious to most of the two dozen soldiers on the scene that a ranger in Tillman's own platoon had fired the fatal shots, the Army aggressively maneuvered to keep this information from Tillman's wife, other family members, and the American public for five weeks following his death. During this time, President Bush repeatedly invoked Tillman's name to promote his administration's foreign policy. Long after Tillman's nationally televised memorial service, the Army grudgingly notified his closest relatives that he had probably been killed by friendly fire while it continued to dissemble about the details of his death and who was responsible.
In Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman's journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to render an intricate mosaic of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure, as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death.
Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillm...
©2009 Jon Krakauer; (P)2009 Random House Audio
Krakauer doesn't disappoint, but I could almost dissuade someone from listening to this audiobook because of the reader. I found the narration awful - monotone, dry and contrived.
I have always liked and respected Krakauer's work. 'Into thin Air' and 'Under the Banner of Heaven' are very good reads. I would sill highly recommend these two selections even after his political hatchet job in 'Where Men Win Glory'. The book starts out like any Krakauer work. It was insightful, direct to the facts and well written. Near the end of the first section Krakauer inexplicably concocts a rant about the 2000 presidential election. Krakauer details the 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court to stop the count but neglects to mention the more important vote of 7-2 declaring the Florida Supreme Court's decision for a selective recount unconstitutional. In another chapter he documents several occasions when Bush was warned about imminent attacks from sleeper cells in the US and how he discarded them but failed to mention how Clinton had numerous opportunities to try to take out Bin Laden but didn't. The rest of the book is filled with a non-stop attack at the Bush administration that could have been taken directly from moveon.org's web pages. In the past Krakauer has always presented the facts and let the reader decide. This time he let his true colors show through. Thus is not an honest work by Krakauer. It is a partisan piece of leftist propaganda. It is a shame that he chose Tillman's story to vent his leftist vitriol.
Any American would undoubtedly be touched by this story. It tells the story of a young man who willingly gave up so much to fight for his country. The narrator's voice was pleasant to listen to and appropriate for the story.
Have no idea why folks don't like Pat Tillman at any point in the story. Didn't find any fault with the narrator. Narration of any book is necessarily done to satisfy the average listener.
My best guess is that Krakauer is a died in the wool left of Michael Moore type liberal as he reveals with some unnecessary commentary in the beginning phases of the book. Almost dropped it at that point, but am glad I did not. His conclusions at the end strike me as well balanced and pragmatic, his rantings at the Bush administration more a function of "man in the arena" syndrome than any liberal or conservative bias. Perhaps this book changed Krakauer during its writing, as it similarly challenged and changed me.
Liberals and conservatives alike we are in this arena together. Krakauer does justice to Pat's legacy in that he distills the essence and the uniqueness of the man Pat was while not making the book a paean to some liberal or conservative agenda, immersing the reader in the injustices, the struggles, the beauty that a man motivated by the most noble passions and principles experienced while here on earth. Perhaps asking at the end whether as a society if we don't embrace more fully the beauty, nobility, and philosophy that was Pat Tillman, will our future be worth living (or dying for)?
I highly recommend this book to admirers of Krakauer's previous exploration of the nonconformist mind, Into the Wild. Whereas Chris McCandless eschewed societal conventions to the point of wanting to abandon civilization entirely, Pat Tillman defied all expectations by embodying seemingly contradictory roles--the tough, celebrity football player and Army Ranger, but also the sensitive intellectual and homebody devoted to his wife. Not being a follower of football, I was only vaguely familiar with Tillman before reading this book, but I was moved almost to tears by his extraordinary dedication to his ideals and the struggle his family faced to find out the truth about his death.
I further recommend this book to any fans of books about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along the lines of The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell or The Looming Tower (which is referenced several times by Krakauer). If you're a fan of narrator Scott Brick, you also won't be disappointed.
This book is horrible. First, the narrator reads to you as if you are a first grader; extremely condescending and so animated that it's difficult to take him seriously. Second, having been in the special operations community and knowing most of the players in this tragic event, it is quite obvious to those of us on the inside that Krakauer is so jaded that he cherry-picks his facts solely to support his extreme positions. There is no doubt that Pat Tillman was an extraordinary person, but not the superhuman that Krakauer portrays. Conversely, the Army officers, specifically Rangers are also extraordinary people who serve willingly and with distinction. His intimation of the contrary is disingenuous. Sadly, Krakauer is so one-sided in the tragedy and couldn't do Pat Tillman service by providing us an unbiased narrative of what happened. The saving grace in this book is the direct quotes from Tillman's journal which give the reader a glimpse into his soul. Unfortunately, Krakauer's fact vagaries are so egregious, I wouldn't recommend anyone waste their time with this brummagem. Finally, had I the time, I would redress most of the garbage in this book.
The author lets his own political opinion enter into the narrative of the story. Some of his cited facts about the wars are more opinion, that as someone who was involved in some of those actions knows they are the typical incorrect group speak put out by reporter
I have throughly enjoyed all of Krakauer's books until this one. It started off as well as any of his other books, but there were telltale signs early on. Still, given my experience with his other books, I assumed he'd keep his reporting to the facts. When his long rant about the 2000 election was over, filled with one sided inaccuracies about "selection", I almost stopped right there. Assuming he'd get back on topic, I continued. Unfortunately his biases did as well. Continuing with his personal obsession against Bush, the book became unreadable. His lack of objectivity on such an important subject has now caused me to rethink how his obsessions may have colored his other works as well.
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