Wednesday, January 18, 2012

American Sniper: A Book Review

A couple months ago, I got an email from Harper-Collins Publishing asking me if I was interested in doing a book review for a new book that had just come out.  The title caught my interest right away: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, By Chris Kyle (Navy Seal).  Normally, I don't enjoy autobiographies, I feel safer reading things that aren't true, and honestly there has been only one autobiography that I really, REALLY enjoyed (you can read my review here), so I was naturally a little hesitant.  But when Ben came in and peeked over my shoulder and saw the email, he told me I better do it "or else."  I don't know what "or else" means and I don't think Ben knows either, but I decided to accept the invitation and then waited for it to come in the mail.

My plan was to get Ben to read it, I wasn't into shoot 'em up stuff like he is, and then tell me about it and I would write the review that way.  After all, American Sniper sounded so manly...

It came in the mail last week.

I thought, well, it wouldn't hurt to start reading a bit of it.

Big mistake... I was sucked in and off on journey before I had barely started.

There are a few things I want to start of by mentioning about Chris Kyle.  First off, he isn't a writer (then again, neither am I).  There is nothing eloquent about his style, and you aren't going to be swept off your feet with smooth, romantic words that roll of your tongue.

That said, he does have two more important qualities than good writing styles.  Number one, he has a voice.  What I mean by this is, you can actually hear his Texan accent as you read the words. And number two, he has an amazing story to tell.  With these two qualities combined, I actually felt like Chris Kyle was sitting next to me telling me the story.  His words so wrapped me up in his adventure, that writing style no longer became an issue, and I was taking a ride along side him as he tells his story.

For 3 days, between taking care of the boys, doing my house duties and crochet responsibilities, I was living and breathing American Sniper.  Even when I was doing other things, I was thinking about that book.  My mind hasn't been that occupied in quite a few years.  It felt good to be reading a book so enthralling.

Chris Kyle doesn't give a hoot what people think about him.  He doesn't care who he offends by speaking out, and this instantly makes him cool in my book. He is honest, loyal, true, and one heck of a patriot.  When I first picked up the book, I thought he may be one of those macho guys bragging about all his kills... I could not have been more wrong.  For all his toughness, he is a pretty humble guy just out there doing his job.  Aside from the famous military potty mouth, bar fights and drinking, his small town county boy attitude is very similar to my Ben's.

Chris Kyle makes me laugh.  I mean hysterically laugh!  Being from a small town, and raised in a farming and ranching community, I understood a lot of who and what Chris was and where he was coming from.  Ben wouldn't stray far from me while I was reading this, and every time I laughed, he would be like: "WHAT!?  What happened?"  Then I would have to read it to him and he would laugh too.  There is one particular scene with insurgents and beach balls (not going to spoil this part, so you will just have to read the book for the story) that had me laughing for 10 minutes and then I was laughing so hard I couldn't tell Ben until I calmed down -- which drove him crazy... but he understood once I read it to him and he laughed just as hard as I did.

It wasn't all funny though.

Most of it was very serious and eye-opening.

I have never heard about what was really going on over seas in war, from the media.  You get little blips like how many men died or horrible things our soldiers allegedly do.  But we rarely if ever, see on the news the heroic efforts our soldiers make, what their lives are really like over there, and everything else! All the stuff I know about over there, comes from the real soldiers in my life.  And even then, their stories are nothing like Chris Kyle's.  Hearing the truth feels liberating, to say the least.

American Sniper will change you.  It changed me.  Seeing the war through a Navy Seal's eyes gave me a whole new perspective on the war and the things are beloved soldiers go through for us back here at home.  For that, I am very grateful for the chance I had to read this book -- a story so well told, that as I closed the book I felt that I had both gained a new friend and lost him at the same time.

Hands down the best book I have read in years.

(Warning: Like any military book, there is some vulgar language.)

The publishers are giving away a couple of copies of American Sniper on Scribd.  You can read an except here, and if you are interested in receiving the complete version, leave me a message saying so and I will enter you in the drawing.


2/4/2013 UPDATE:  I was shocked and devastated to learn of the untimely death of Chris Kyle this weekend.  I didn't know him personally, but reading his book made him feel like a friend and hero to me.  I wish swift justice on the man who took his life.  I send many prayers to his family, especially his wife and children.  Let's not ever let his legend and memory die.


Cat said...

For Brandee: "hey catherine!!

so for some cool reason i am unable to post to your comment thread, prob some brain mush going on over here, but by the third time, i gave up. the book sounds really amazing and i really like books like that. would you please enter me in your drawing! thanks a bunch and im glad to hear that your class was so fun. have a great day and see you later!!


Heidi said...

That sounds like an awesome book! I totally have to read it now. Would you please enter me for the drawing? I would love to win it. :)

Leenie said...

This sounds very interesting. I haven't been much of an autobiography kinda reader either, but I'm beginning to be. Could you also add me to the drawing? I think I might like to read this and pass it along to my husband as well! Thanks!

Cat said...

For Jennifer: "Please put my name in the drawing for the American Sniper book. It sounds awesome."

New Mommy Confessions said...

Sounds like an interesting read, can you enter me in for the drawing as well?