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Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

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The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey. Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey. Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, 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, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell”—and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers. Krakauer chronicles Tillman’s riveting, tragic odyssey in engrossing detail highlighting his remarkable character and personality while closely examining the murky, heartbreaking circumstances of his death. Infused with the power and authenticity readers have come to expect from Krakauer’s storytelling, Where Men Win Glory exposes shattering truths about men and war. From the inside cover of ISBN 0385522266 / 9780385522267


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The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey. Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey. Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, 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, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell”—and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers. Krakauer chronicles Tillman’s riveting, tragic odyssey in engrossing detail highlighting his remarkable character and personality while closely examining the murky, heartbreaking circumstances of his death. Infused with the power and authenticity readers have come to expect from Krakauer’s storytelling, Where Men Win Glory exposes shattering truths about men and war. From the inside cover of ISBN 0385522266 / 9780385522267

30 review for Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Pat Tillman was a top-notch safety with the Phoenix Cardinals of the NFL. He was an incredibly intense guy, always looking to challenge himself, to push himself past his limits. But he also had a sensitive, emotional side and an intellectual curiosity, exceptional in his chosen profession. He came from a close-knit family that held the military in high regard and was touched deeply when the USA was attacked on and subsequently went to war following 9/11. Setting aside his lucrative football care Pat Tillman was a top-notch safety with the Phoenix Cardinals of the NFL. He was an incredibly intense guy, always looking to challenge himself, to push himself past his limits. But he also had a sensitive, emotional side and an intellectual curiosity, exceptional in his chosen profession. He came from a close-knit family that held the military in high regard and was touched deeply when the USA was attacked on and subsequently went to war following 9/11. Setting aside his lucrative football career, Tillman and his brother, Kevin, joined up, intent on going to Afghanistan to fight. Pat Tillman - image from Huffington Post Krakauer braids several strands here, one of Tillman, a biography that offers enough warts to matter, the second a look at the events leading up to the Afghan war, pretty much all warts, and a third, which looks at the specifics of how Tillman was used by political types, how he was killed and how the military and politicians handled his passing. Tillman comes across as a compelling character, a Renaissance grunt. But I would have liked for Krakauer to have at least looked at the possibility that there was an explanation for some of Tillman’s behavioral choices that was less than laudatory. Maybe the guy was, in addition to his other characteristics, an adrenalin junkie, who went out of his way to take unnecessary risks. Jon Krakauer - image from CNN There were many irregularities in the investigation of Tillman’s death. The officer assigned to conduct the investigation was a captain, and thus could not investigate any officers of higher rank, which would have included the Major who gave the order to split up the squad Tillman was in, a crucial aspect of the tragedy. Tillman’s uniform and body armor was not left on Tillman’s body, to be removed at his autopsy. Instead a captain had it put into a bag, then ordered a sergeant to burn it. Tillman’s personal notebook was also burned. When Tillman’s brother Kevin tried to reach platoon members to find out exactly what had happened, a Captain told at least one platoon member to say nothing about friendly fire. When the medical examiner was told that Tillman had been killed by the Taliban, but saw from the body that this was not the case, he asked the Criminal Investigation Division to look into the case, but CID refused. Seeking to distract public attention from the Abu Ghraib scandal, which broke the day Tillman’s body was returned to his family, the Bush administration sought to highlight Tillman as an American hero. Part of that was to award him posthumous medals. PFC Bryan O’Neal was ordered to type out a witness statement in support of Major Hodne’s Silver Star recommendation, “but after he wrote, his words were embellished so egregiously that he never signed it.” (p298) A remarkable life went to waste here. Krakauer does a good job of showing the value that was lost and the values of those who tried to hide the truth of that waste. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages FWIW, Krakauer’s FB and Twitter pages seem to have been largely abandoned

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I'm active duty military and can partly--partly--understand why Pat Tillman turned down a 3.6 million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and, instead, enlisted in the Army as a grunt for $1200 per month. I use money as the central metric of Tillman's decision because it's the one most non-active duty military readers will misunderstand. I'll try to explain his decision from our (military) perspective. Let me start by saying I would not have made the same financial decision, despite the I'm active duty military and can partly--partly--understand why Pat Tillman turned down a 3.6 million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and, instead, enlisted in the Army as a grunt for $1200 per month. I use money as the central metric of Tillman's decision because it's the one most non-active duty military readers will misunderstand. I'll try to explain his decision from our (military) perspective. Let me start by saying I would not have made the same financial decision, despite the uber-patriotic shadow of 9-11 that led many of us to change our lives and some of us to join the military. This was Pat Tillman's decision, and I respect it. I joined 5 years before 9-11, and am proud to have deployed multiple times to Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). If I wasn't already part of the military, I may have joined after watching the towers fall, but I can't be sure. (A few formidable years encompass major changes in a young man's place and perspective with issues like this). But, I know for sure that I would not have joined and turned down $3.6 million. I know myself, my family, our financial position, and our plans for retirement, so financial security would have trumped my patriotism. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. There's thousands of ways to be good Americans and support the troops without joining the military. However, Tillman was inspired, and money had nothing to do with his decision. When you join the military, you don't join for the money. Pat Tillman knew this. Unless you become a 3- to 4-star general, you will probably live like 99.7% of retired military personnel--a life with a modest pension, and, very likely, a second career starting in your early-40's. In fact, many young enlisted, active duty troops with large families actually require food stamps and extra financial help at Christmas. There are no NFL contracts in the military. However, as a 25 year old, Pat Tillman already received several hundred thousand dollars from the NFL. His wife worked, they had no kids, and it seems they lived well within their means. So, it's safe to say that Pat Tillman had enough money to lean on. He could serve his 3 year tour, return to the NFL, and likely pick up financially where he left off--albeit with a more worldly perspective. From Where Men Win Glory I understand Pat Tillman as an aggressive, slightly hyper, type-A, alpha-male with a consuming urge to challenge himself both physically and mentally. He was a natural athlete, a raucous drinker, and a thrill seeker, yet he displayed a cool mettle, a certain sangfroid, that counterbalanced his testosterone. He even had a touch of the numinous, in spite of his agnosticism. Most importantly he had a set of morals by which the actions in his life were strictly defined and measured. His personal principles demanded that he bite the most out of life, masticate everything, and leave no opportunity untasted. Many men (and women--but I'll stick with the masculine pronoun from here out) in the military have these attributes. The military offers guys like this a chance to play really hard with big toys that bring hellfire and break things. The military also offers man an opportunity to make a difference, to fight for a cause Tillman considered noble, to defend your country, to apply all the previous attributes against a daily workload. For many, it's the best job in the world, and it's the job they'll talk about most as a grandfather. Tillman, though, for me, remains a bit of an enigma. Why was he the only professional athlete in America since WWII that postponed a million dollar career to bring hellfire and break things? Here's what I think: despite his age, Tillman was still in that post-pubescent stage of life where a boy, just arriving at manhood, considers desperately where his mark in life will lie. Who am I; what will I be; will I share with a spouse/kids; does this damn college degree really matter; how long will I be in control; have I done anything worthwhile yet? It's a youthful angst. I had it. My buddies went through it. I still experience shades of it as I contemplate the intersections and turnpikes of my life. Tillman hadn't made that decision yet. Good for him. And what an awesome spouse he had that understood and supported his decision. She was (and is forever) a quintessential military spouse. My heart goes out to her. Pat Tillman--at a crucial point in his life--felt there was something more rewarding serving in the Army than serving as a Cardinal. He was 3.6 million dollars sure he wanted a military experience defending freedom before defending the backfield as a strong safety. Two things crush me about this story. One, Tillman was killed during his first encounter with troops in contact (TIC), and two, the army used his death for internal propaganda and subsequently tried to cover it up. Tillman knew death was a possibility, so he entered that decision with a clear mind. But to die at your first hostile exchange with enemy fire, and from friendly fire at that!! Goshdarn, that sucks. Worse, the army made 7 successive investigations into his death, each one revealing new information while continually redacting previous conclusions. It's the cover up that makes me throw up a little in my mouth, as it did many of the junior level soldiers when told to hide the truth, even from his brother who was also in the firefight, until an official investigation could be completed. The Army provided false information for his eulogy, and the White House procrastinated releasing to the media until they could frame the story. It's shit like this that reminds me the machine is too big, or we're too politically correct, or that somehow we've lost the value and sacrifice of the individual to the State. I pray that it doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it's necessarily egregious. And it happened to Pat Tillman and his family. 5-stars for Pat Tillman. But only 3-stars for the author, Jon Krakauer. I've only read one other book by Krakauer, Into the Wild, but he uses the exact same formula. He investigates the death of a young male, in an austere environment, under very dubious circumstances, and which has generated voluble public debate. He's a tenacious reporter and reveals the facts in an engaging way. He's slightly biased, but not to an unreasonable extent, and his author's voice is relatively settled. However, neither book presents much more than an extremely long series of articles that you'd find in a distinguished newspaper or popular outdoor magazine. It's simply a journalistic exposé.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    The back cover of my book reads, “Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the army and became an icon of post 9/11 patriotism. When he was killed in Afghanistan two years later, he became a tool for White House propaganda. Thus a legend was born…” Throughout the book, Krakauer makes multiple references to how Pat Tillman didn’t grant interviews after enlisting, or how he didn’t want, “them to parade me through the streets” to advance a political agenda. I’m not exc The back cover of my book reads, “Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the army and became an icon of post 9/11 patriotism. When he was killed in Afghanistan two years later, he became a tool for White House propaganda. Thus a legend was born…” Throughout the book, Krakauer makes multiple references to how Pat Tillman didn’t grant interviews after enlisting, or how he didn’t want, “them to parade me through the streets” to advance a political agenda. I’m not excusing the Bush administration’s mishandling of the incident, but this book does just that. It parades Tillman – once again – through the streets in order to advance a political agenda; this time it’s the left’s, not the right’s. Maybe Krakauer thought he had to counter-balance the right and therefore be much more forceful with his arguments, but I swear, there were times I thought he was going to say George W. Bush secretly flew into Afghanistan and gleefully pulled the trigger himself – and that’s just as shameless given what Pat said he wanted. (Or didn’t want.) Not only that, but it seemed like some of Krakauer’s research was shoddy, or at least his conclusions could be questioned. For instance, there are the flight tapes from Nasiriyah (pg. 204). “He was allowed to take it, whereupon he ‘mistakenly’ inserted the tape into the cockpit video camera and recorded over it, erasing it.” Those are some pretty hefty quotes around mistakenly. The thing is, evidence gets lost, or broken, or misplaced more often than one might think. But, because it was supposedly “key” evidence, there’s no way it was a mistake, obviously it was a “mistake.” Right? Or a few pages later on 210 where it says, “Henry Waxman later alleged that Wilkinson delayed the mission to allow a Special Operations video crew to shoot the rescue for the news media. Although these allegations have not been substantiated…” If they haven’t been substantiated, maybe you shouldn’t include them… Even the section where they discuss Tillman’s clothes being burned… did it bother me that they typically don’t burn the clothes, and why the heck did they in this case? Yes. But we never hear from the defense. It’s a trial where only one side’s giving the closing argument. My biggest problem with the book though is the number of soldiers Krakauer throws under the bus. It’s one thing to call out and blast elected officials with low popularity ratings, but something else altogether to call out the people on the ground – especially if you’re wrong. And there’s a chance that Krakauer’s conclusions and even the Tillman family’s conclusions are wrong. These people on the ground (including Tillman) have to make split second life or death decisions. Sometimes it seems like there is no right choice. To be killed in your first fire-fight has to suck. To have a part in any friendly-fire killing – not to mention one of an icon – has to suck. To be thrown under the bus for it? Well that REALLY has to suck. So, why 3 stars if I found the book so disagreeable? It was well written. It stretched me to think about war, and patriotism, and propaganda – both right and left. And I’m rating the book, not how the book aligns with my views. I don’t want to give a decent, thought provoking book one star because I disagree with some of its politics. How’s THAT for open-mindedness?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    "Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle, would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us in their thousands, no man can turn aside nor escape them, let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others." - Homer, The Iliad (Richard Lattimore translation) As I write this, in late January, another f "Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle, would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal, so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory. But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us in their thousands, no man can turn aside nor escape them, let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others." - Homer, The Iliad (Richard Lattimore translation) As I write this, in late January, another football season is coming to an end. In another week, the Super Bowl will be played. Millions of people will tune in to watch this overblown, ceaselessly hyped pageant. Some of these people will actually care about the outcome of the game; most, however, will tune in for the commercials, even though they are, in fact, the same commercials we will strenuously attempt to avoid for the other 364 days of the year. Dozens of talking heads will attempt to explain the nuances of the football match by stringing together endless clichés. Players will be interviewed, and they will parrot back the same tired phrases being peddled by the interviewers. And at some point, rest assured, someone will compare football to war. Of all sports, football is the most suffused with martial ardor. It is violent, to be sure, and was designed as a more-ordered form of rugby. Players crash together over a line of scrimmage; there are whiplash-inducing collisions. When a play is over, there are bodies strewn on a field. More than that, the language of football is warlike: the linemen are “in the trenches”; the defense “blitzes” the quarterback in an attempt to “sack” him. The dangers of football are becoming more prevalent every day. But despite the comparisons, it’s not war. It’s not really close. Patrick Tillman knew this better than anyone. He was a hardworking, hard-hitting safety at Arizona State University who was later drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Despite lacking certain physical qualities – height, blazing speed – he did well enough to earn a contract that would’ve made him a millionaire. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Tillman walked away from that contract to join the Army. He became the most famous soldier in America. With his lantern jaw, shaved head, and Popeye physique, he looked like a recruiting poster. He became an Army Ranger, served a tour in Iraq, and then went to Afghanistan. You probably know the rest. Or at least you think you do. Jon Krakauer, a journalist known mostly adventure writing such as the Everest disaster epic Into Thin Air, tells Tillman’s story, what he terms Tillman’s “odyssey,” in Where Men Win Glory. The structure Krakauer employs alternates vignettes of Tillman’s life with the goings-on in Afghanistan that eventually led to the American invasion in 2001. For example, Krakauer starts with Tillman’s birth in California in 1976. Then, he switches perspective to Afghanistan where, in the closing hours of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded with the 40th Army. The oscillation between the intimate, personal story of Tillman, and the larger, context-creating story of Afghanistan, continues until the two parallel strands intersect outside the village of Sperah, near the Pakistan border, on April 22, 2004. Normally, I’m all for context. The problem, here, is that it causes unevenness in the narrative. For long stretches of time, we are away from our main point of interest – Tillman – and wallowing in the sad history of Afghanistan: the insurgency against the Soviet-backed ruling party; the resulting invasion by the Soviets; the aid provided by the CIA, in the form of money and missiles; the defeat of the Soviets; the post-Soviet power vacuum that saw the rise of the Taliban; and the creation of al-Qaeda, which used Taliban-led Afghanistan as a staging area. When we are away from Tillman, we lose sight of the human dimension of what is, after all, an intensely human story. (At times, the historical perspective feels a bit like filler. For instance, Krakauer devotes several pages to an overly-detailed account of the Florida recount fiasco, and the US Supreme Court’s highly partisan decision in Bush v. Gore. This struck me as exceptionally needless; for purposes of Tillman’s story, it suffices that Bush became president). Moreover, Krakauer is a bit out of his depth when writing about Afghanistan. This is not his ken – outdoor writing is – and though he is an able journalist, he relies heavily on secondary sources such as Steve Coll (Ghost Wars) and Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower) to fill these sections. This is not to say these sections are unreadable, only that they are tentative, and rely on the intellectual lifting of others. The sections focusing on Tillman are better. However, Krakauer is hampered by the fact that, with the exception of Tillman’s wife, Marie, the Tillman family did not cooperate with Krakauer on this book. As a result, Krakauer had to rely heavily on secondary sources, chiefly the book written by Tillman’s mother. Where he can, Krakauer tracks down willing interviewees with some perspective on Tillman’s life. He talks, for instance, with the people involved in a vicious fight that resulted in Tillman’s arrest for felony assault (he eventually pled to a misdemeanor in juvenile court). Despite doing what he can to track down sources, Krakauer has to find a lot of filler to plug the gaps in the Tillman story. There is, for example, a lot of space devoted to Tillman’s seasons with the Arizona Sun Devils and the Arizona Cardinals (it being far easier to collect information on these parts of Tillman’s life). Unfortunately, Krakauer isn’t much of a sportswriter. When he talks about football, you can almost see him struggling to grasp the subject. While he has conquered the mountains, the gridiron seems beyond his grasp. At one point, Krakauer relates this shining gem of football wisdom: The Cornhuskers…scored nine touchdowns by halftime, a school record, and the final score [against the Arizona Sun Devils] was 77-28. The loss was especially humbling for the Sun Devils’ defense. If a football team racks up that many points, it suggests that the team being scored against has some serious defensive flaws. Really? I didn't know that! Thanks, Lombardi, for that hard-earned insight. What insight we achieve into the life of Pat Tillman is mostly provided by Tillman himself, by way of his diary entries. The man who comes across in these pages is beautifully complex, intelligent, profane, and contradictory. In short, a fascinating, relatable human being. Through his writings, you watch Tillman struggle with the friction between his deeply held principles and the competing duties to his wife, his family, and his country. Eventually, of course, his duty to country won out, and he walked away from his wife, his job, and enviable financial security to join an institution that is not exactly noted for prizing individuality and progressive thinking (both of which Tillman had in abundance). While in Afghanistan, part of Tillman’s unit was ambushed by the Taliban. In the resulting firefight, Tillman was shot three time in the forehead by a Squad Automatic Weapon fired by a fellow US Ranger. Krakauer does an admirable job piecing together the story of this ambush, with a careful, bullet-by-bullet account that tries to instill some coherence to an inherently chaotic situation. He also provides a couple of helpful maps to help the reader follow the movements of Tillman’s unit up to the time of his death. The Army knew right away that Tillman’s death had been caused by friendly fire. However, the Army, with the blessing of the Pentagon and the White House, decided to take short-term advantage of the situation by covering up the blunder, pushing through a Silver Star, and scoring a huge propaganda coup. Eventually, of course, in no small part due to the efforts of the Tillman family, the truth dribbled out. By that time, though, the Nation had mostly moved on. To me, that’s part of the importance of a book like this. Frankly, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan never directly affected me. Sure, I had friends who served, and every once in awhile I’d walk down to the Post Office and send them care packages. But for the most part, I could tune in and tune out at will. In the past, we all got the same news, delivered by the big networks. Now, with cable and the internet, it’s easier than ever to pick and choose our medium, and hear only what we want to hear. Combine this with the fact there was no draft and taxes were actually cut, and you have a situation in which it was frighteningly easy for eight or nine years of violence to slip past unnoticed. This is war for the iPod Generation. Because of this, a lot of what I think I know I actually don’t know. My memory is frozen in time; I have notions stuck in my head, that have never been shaken loose. One big example is the story of Private Jessica Lynch (which is also covered in Krakauer’s book). When Lynch was captured, after her convoy blundered into Nasiriyah, it was a big enough occurrence to get my attention. I watched on the news as she was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, and word filtered out that she’d mowed down ranks of Fedayeen before being shot and imprisoned. Within weeks, there was a made-for-TV movie depicting these events. That is when I literally stopped following this story. Now I know that first draft of history was a pastiche of unintentional falsehoods and outright lies, most of them peddled by a Bush Administration PR man named Jim Wilkinson (the same Jim Wilkinson who said that Al Gore claimed to invent the internet). In reality, Lynch was injured when her truck crashed, never fired her weapon, and was well cared for by Iraqi doctors, who tried to deliver her to the Americans, but were shot at by a US security checkpoint. Where Men Wins Glory provides an important corrective to my stunted knowledge about our still-ongoing wars. It attempts to rescue the truth from a history that is still very fluid. Still, in my opinion, this is not Krakauer’s strongest effort. He is at his best when he can empathize with his subject, and see in him something that is within himself. When Krakauer strays to topics like Afghan history, football, or politics, his writing becomes a bit uncertain. When he sticks close to Tillman, though, he is fine. When you think about it, Pat Tillman’s story is almost made for a writer like Krakauer. Indeed, Tillman is a lot like Christopher McCandless, the central figure in Krakauer’s best work, Into the Wild. Both were intellectually gifted, well-read, and deeply philosophical. Both came from comfortable backgrounds, which they gave up in order to follow certain internal imperatives. Both bucked the system, and refused to obey the conventional wisdom imposed by society. Both died due to tragic mistakes. And both left themselves open to criticism by those who cannot understand their willingness to sacrifice concrete assets to pursue ephemeral callings. The power of Into the Wild comes from Krakauer’s personal connection to McCandless. Krakauer saw him in heroic terms, even while most Americans would probably criticize him for giving up his obvious advantages (a trust fund, law school) in order to embark on his quixotic adventures. In McCandless, Krakauer saw himself as a young man, driven by urges that could not be placed into words. The only difference, really, was that Krakauer survived to be an adult. I had hopes that Krakauer would make the same connection to Tillman, but he never does. No matter. Tillman’s story is enough, without any annotation. He was the rarest of individuals: a person of strong beliefs willing to transform those beliefs into action. Even though there is a lot of extraneous information in Where Men Win Glory, ultimately Tillman’s incredible personality shines through. He embodies all that is terrible in war and wonderful in humanity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine

    I wanted a biography of Pat Tillman, not a scathing critique of the Bush administration. While the actions of George W. Bush and his staff regarding the events surrounding Tillman's death are totally relevant to the story, here Krakauer abandons his usual objectivity and jumps head-first into an attack on Bush that leaves the author sounding like nothing more than a pissed-off liberal Seattle-ite. (And I can say that because was a pissed off liberal Seattle-ite.) Ugh. Go cry into your cappuccino I wanted a biography of Pat Tillman, not a scathing critique of the Bush administration. While the actions of George W. Bush and his staff regarding the events surrounding Tillman's death are totally relevant to the story, here Krakauer abandons his usual objectivity and jumps head-first into an attack on Bush that leaves the author sounding like nothing more than a pissed-off liberal Seattle-ite. (And I can say that because was a pissed off liberal Seattle-ite.) Ugh. Go cry into your cappuccino. It's infuriating that such a beautiful and well-told biography suddenly veers off course and tosses the reader in the middle of an old political debate. I don't need Jon Krakauer to tell me Geroge W. Bush was a horrible president. I lived through 8 years of that smug bastard and I don't want any more. I DON'T WANT ANY MORE. The only thing that pisses me off more than George W. Bush are people who keep going on about him. Let's drop it, shall we? I wish Krakauer had dropped it. He let his anger at Bush destroy his own story, taking an otherwise perfect biography and turning it into a story of old-hat politics. Sucked. But because half was good, I'll put it on my meh-whatever shelf.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    When I first started the book, I asked myself if I liked the character of Pat Tillman. I didn't understand why I was having such a problem with him. But my problem wasn't with him, it was with Krakauer and his kiss-assery, if I may. The hero treatment was way too much for me. Although, Tillman is a hero in many people's eyes and an overall good guy, it felt like he just couldn't be any guy. He had to be "unafraid to buck the herd", "defend honor, with fists if necessary", "Tillman...virtually in When I first started the book, I asked myself if I liked the character of Pat Tillman. I didn't understand why I was having such a problem with him. But my problem wasn't with him, it was with Krakauer and his kiss-assery, if I may. The hero treatment was way too much for me. Although, Tillman is a hero in many people's eyes and an overall good guy, it felt like he just couldn't be any guy. He had to be "unafraid to buck the herd", "defend honor, with fists if necessary", "Tillman...virtually indestructible", and was "uncommonly resistant to the temptations of the baser human appetites". Hell, he used ODYSSEY in the title! I could go on forever! There's even several paragraphs about how Tillman wanted to meet Noam Chomsky which seems useless until you realize Krakauer wanted to throw that in there because his friend noted that their minds operated the same way. Oh wait, actually that was useless. Really? I almost disliked myself reading this book because I saw how cynical I was becoming with each chapter filled with adoration for Tillman. With that, I thank Krakauer for featuring the history of Afghanistan's civil wars because without it, I would have lost my mind. My suspicions on why he did this were confirmed towards the end. A lot of what was happening in Afghanistan possibly mirrors American policy or how Pashtunwali beliefs mirrored Tillman's own beliefs. I enjoyed that aspect and probably found that's what saved the book. There are several wasted paragraphs and chapters on superfluous information. I see what he was trying to do with involving the Jessica Lynch story. Clever but annoying in the end. This was the same with other chapters. I felt like I answered my question on whether I liked Tillman's character when we got to journal entries. It was there that I felt he was real, while in Krakauer's own accounts, he relishes in the myth of Tillman. He should have relied more on Tillman's writings than on his own. I don't think I'd ever read Krakauer again. I wonder if the author has an obsession with grandeur and the romance of people rather than letting these people be beautiful and wonderful on their own. As far as I know, this is his second book featuring white, upper middle class, men who are well educated but are looking for adventure in the most drastic ways. Though educated, they don't use their heads much. Rather their hearts. And this is not a bad thing but I wish Krakauer realized that instead of writing these ballads. Tillman didn't have to be boy wonder. The author even ends with the idea that Pat possessed no tragic flaw. But why would that be so bad? Pretty good read, good history, but in most cases, much too much.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    Pat Tillman, it appears, is everyone's political platform. Krakauer decries the use of Tillman's life and death for political ends, then goes on to use Tillman to preach about the evils of the Bush administration. By the end of the book, I wondered if this was more about Pat Tillman's life or Krakauer's hatred of Bush. There's even a whole chapter about the Bush-Gore election. I'm not sure why. Outside of the political screed, I was a little irritated by the obviousness of Krakauer's man-crush on Pat Tillman, it appears, is everyone's political platform. Krakauer decries the use of Tillman's life and death for political ends, then goes on to use Tillman to preach about the evils of the Bush administration. By the end of the book, I wondered if this was more about Pat Tillman's life or Krakauer's hatred of Bush. There's even a whole chapter about the Bush-Gore election. I'm not sure why. Outside of the political screed, I was a little irritated by the obviousness of Krakauer's man-crush on Tillman, especially the breezy treatment given to Tillman's brutal beating of a fellow teenager (I don't know about you, but I would call an assault that results in its victim requiring 5 dental surgeries a felony and an inexcusable lack of self-restraint). There are other things, but I won't go into them. Pat Tillman, in my mind, was not a terrifically remarkable man outside the fact that he was a great athlete who was able to chase a little leather ball around a football field. Should I care that he fancied himself a philosopher? Tillman left a lot of money on the table when he joined the Army to fight for what he believed in. So did Osama Bin Laden, who gave up an allowance of $1 million per year in order to become one of the most hated men in the world. Bin Laden, it might be argued, actually gave up a whole lot more, and achieved a lot more, than Tillman ever did. Maybe Krakauer can write a book about him next. At the end of the book, Krakauer states that Tillman is a wonderful example of Nietzsche's Ubermensch, and implies that the USA could use more men like him. Sorry if I disagree. The tragedy of Pat Tillman's death was the cover-up by the government and the military, and the fact that many of those involved were actually rewarded for lying. I applaud Krakauer for his efforts to uncover the truth. The information he provided was fascinating. That's why this book gets two stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This is at once a biography of Pat Tillman, a history of Afghanistan, the Taliban (they originally formed to stop bandits from shaking down the populace at checkpoints) and the cover up of Tillman’s fratricide. Having read and been very impressed with Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, I was expecting – and got— a complex story. As a non-football fan, I don’t know the difference (or if there is one) between a sack and a tackle or a fullback, a free safety and a linebacker. But who Tillman was This is at once a biography of Pat Tillman, a history of Afghanistan, the Taliban (they originally formed to stop bandits from shaking down the populace at checkpoints) and the cover up of Tillman’s fratricide. Having read and been very impressed with Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, I was expecting – and got— a complex story. As a non-football fan, I don’t know the difference (or if there is one) between a sack and a tackle or a fullback, a free safety and a linebacker. But who Tillman was is only partially a superlative football player: he was a thoughtful, curious, sincere, fun-loving man. On his off- season time away from football he ran marathons and triathlons, read Chomsky and did graduate work in history. Tillman “stubbornly insisted on doing the right thing” which Krakauer calls his tragic virtue. I am glad to have read this book, which is a biography of an honorable man, an indictment of the war and the men who are conducting it, and a celebration of the good men and women waging it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    An excellent look at the life and sad, premature death of Pat Tillman, former NFL player who gave up a career playing football to enlist in the military. His brother he was so close to also followed him into danger after feeling like they needed to be doing more in the era of post 9/11. Knowing what happens to Tillman it's difficult to keep reading, but knowing the kind of writing that Krakauer is known for producing, one just keeps going, sure that the read will make it worth getting through in An excellent look at the life and sad, premature death of Pat Tillman, former NFL player who gave up a career playing football to enlist in the military. His brother he was so close to also followed him into danger after feeling like they needed to be doing more in the era of post 9/11. Knowing what happens to Tillman it's difficult to keep reading, but knowing the kind of writing that Krakauer is known for producing, one just keeps going, sure that the read will make it worth getting through in the end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    I was looking for a book about Pat Tillman, but instead found a book that, in my opinion, used him as an excuse, or means, to simply bash the Military, Bush administration, CIA and the wars we are engaged in. I had read prior books by Mr. Krakauer and enjoyed them, but honestly, after reading this book I find myself wondering how accurate or slanted those books were, as this book definitely had an agenda to me, which was not to focus on Pat Tillman. Sure, he's talked about a lot, but it felt lik I was looking for a book about Pat Tillman, but instead found a book that, in my opinion, used him as an excuse, or means, to simply bash the Military, Bush administration, CIA and the wars we are engaged in. I had read prior books by Mr. Krakauer and enjoyed them, but honestly, after reading this book I find myself wondering how accurate or slanted those books were, as this book definitely had an agenda to me, which was not to focus on Pat Tillman. Sure, he's talked about a lot, but it felt like a preamble to the real purpose of the book. I realized that when there were pages dedicated to discussing the election results between Gore and Bush - what did that have to do with Pat Tillman? Was the auther implying that if Gore won, Pat would not have died? Maybe it was backdrop to us entering the war, but talking about how Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college due to the Supreme Court wasnt part of the story I thought I was going to read. I was not looking for that when I picked it to read, but instead was wanting better insight into Pat Tillman, and others like him, as well as a more unbiased picture of what happened that evening. Instead, I got a political rant that used allegations and rumors to paint a quite negative picture of almost everyone in the book. The writing was good, but not great - more like long magazine articles that had the benefit of hindsight, and used that hindsight to pass judgment. For me, having never been in combat or shot at, I refuse to judge those that are in battle or combat - I can only imagine the stress and fear, and have no idea how I would act in that circumstance, so who am I to pass judgement? If anyone is interested in reading about what motivates a person to go to war, I highly recommend "Fearless - the Adam Brown Story". I was hoping this book would be in that vein, but it wasnt.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The story of Pat Tillman is probably already somewhat familiar to many from news headlines - he's the Arizona Cardinals player who turned down a multi-million football contract to go fight al quaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11 only to be killed by friendly-fire. Of course, the Bush administration, wanting to use Tillman to hype the glory of war, covered up the circumstances of his death at first, making it a bigger headline later. If the government had been truthful from the start, Tillman's name The story of Pat Tillman is probably already somewhat familiar to many from news headlines - he's the Arizona Cardinals player who turned down a multi-million football contract to go fight al quaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11 only to be killed by friendly-fire. Of course, the Bush administration, wanting to use Tillman to hype the glory of war, covered up the circumstances of his death at first, making it a bigger headline later. If the government had been truthful from the start, Tillman's name likely would have been long-forgotten by anyone that didn't watch football. The cover-up is the hook Krakauer uses to lead us into the story of Tillman's life, which is almost more compelling than the Army's lies about his death. Just as with Krakauer's earlier books, I couldn't put this down once I started reading. It's like best people-watching in book form, though sad. The beginning does start out a little slow as he gives the history of Afghanistan that led us to where we were in the early 2000s. That history lesson does pay off in the end. Relying on Tillman's journals, interviews with Tillman's widow and his Army buddies, as well as congressional testimony and a book by Tillman's mother, Krakauer gives such a realistic, detailed description of the guy that you feel like you don't necessarily know him, but know the guy he was, if that makes any sense. Tillman kind of lives by his own code. He gets into ASU on a football scholarship, but also graduates with honors. He reads Noam Chomsky and Homer, but also likes to drink and tells a French guy glaring at him when drunk one night "you'd be speaking German if it wasn't for us." When he first signs on as a pro-football player with the Cardinals, he rides a bike to practice because he doesn't yet own a car (like practically unheard of in Phoenix.) He's this hot football player with long hair who marries his first girlfriend, despite spending four years separated while he attends one of the biggest party schools. All of which makes him sound a bit like a man of contradictions, but really, Krakauer reveals a guy who is open-minded but lucky enough in life to be able to live by his ideals. At the same time, Tillman almost admits as much in one of his journals, and he comes across as humble and likable. I have to admit that part of the reason I was interested in reading this was that Tillman went to Arizona State the same years I did and I remember the excitement over football the year that our team not only beat Nebraska but made it to the Rose Bowl. I didn't know him or even clearly remember him being on the football team as I never actually went to a football game. (The only person I remember being on the football team was Jake Plummer and I only knew his name because I worked at the student paper and at one point Plummer had told one of the sports reporters to "go eat a dick sandwich," which of course immediately became a running joke, and eventually Halloween costume...) Reading this, I can see that there's no reason I would have known Tillman. I could totally place his type of crowd in college, through Krakauer's details. Krakauer tries to tell two stories here. The one about Tillman and one about the problems with the war being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter story he doesn't dig into as much and he comes at it with such an anti-Bush opinion from the start that it was hard for me to completely trust his reporting or conclusions, even though I'm totally anti-Bush. The cover-up over Tillman's death is maddening and, if there had never been the faked WMDs, that alone would have made me disbelieve anything else the Bushies said. Anyway, read the book to be annoyed all over again with Bush and the Iraq war and the mishandling of the Afghanistan war. But really, it's the story about Tillman, and the love story between he and his wife, that really makes this worth it. And Krakauer really nails the ending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mateo

    It's no accident that Where Men Win Glory is framed by quotes from Homer and Aeschylus, because, make no mistake about it, this is a Greek tragedy, the story of a heroic, if flawed, human being who is played with by the gods like a fly by wanton boys. In this case the gods are the neoconservative hawks who brought the war in Iraq down upon our heads, and the book is an indictment--yes, okay, a searing indictment--of the foolishness, hubris, and evil at the root of this immoral war. It's also one It's no accident that Where Men Win Glory is framed by quotes from Homer and Aeschylus, because, make no mistake about it, this is a Greek tragedy, the story of a heroic, if flawed, human being who is played with by the gods like a fly by wanton boys. In this case the gods are the neoconservative hawks who brought the war in Iraq down upon our heads, and the book is an indictment--yes, okay, a searing indictment--of the foolishness, hubris, and evil at the root of this immoral war. It's also one of those books that you'd like to give to anyone who's thinking of signing up for the Army, because it's hard to imagine anyone reading about all the crack-house errors that go into a SNAFU battle like al Nasiriyah (in which one US battalion called for A-30 Warthog strikes, shooting uranium-depleted bullets at 60 rounds a second, against another), or the one in which Pat Tillman was killed by his own troops, without seriously questioning the glories of war. If you thought Black Hawk Down could show you what really serious shit looks like when it hits a big, deadly fan, you'll find the second-by-second accounts of Where Men Win Glory to be just as appalling and irresistible. Krakauer seems incapable of writing a book that is not riveting, and in Pat Tillman he has a naturally riveting subject: a jock who read Emerson and Chomsky, a macho athlete who was an outspoken atheist and supporter of gay rights, a multimillionaire who drove a beat-up Volvo station wagon, a soldier thoroughly opposed to the war in which he fought but whose sense of duty precluded any action but to serve his country as he'd agreed to do. (To be fair, Krakauer's weakness is that he almost always admires his subject too much, and there is a bit of hero-worship here, too. Still, Tillman was a remarkable man.) That this very private man's public heroism should wind up as P.R. fodder for the corrupt machinations of Halliburton and Bush is a tragedy that perhaps even Homer could not have anticipated. A definite must-read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    What I wanted from this book was an in-depth investigation into Pat Tillman's death and the ensuing cover-up by the military and our government. What I got instead was a quasi-biography of Tillman coupled with a parallel discussion of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither bothered me terribly, I guess, since I attended ASU at the same time Tillman did and was a huge fan of his from the very start, and since I voted against Bush twice. But still, be aware of the subj What I wanted from this book was an in-depth investigation into Pat Tillman's death and the ensuing cover-up by the military and our government. What I got instead was a quasi-biography of Tillman coupled with a parallel discussion of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither bothered me terribly, I guess, since I attended ASU at the same time Tillman did and was a huge fan of his from the very start, and since I voted against Bush twice. But still, be aware of the subject-matter of the book if you choose to read it. Tillman himself was an amazing character, more amazing than even I had realized given his background, his age, and his career. It is undeniable that he made a choice that 99.99% of Americans would not make if they were in his shoes. A choice, of course, that he paid for with his very life. He did it simply because he felt it was the right thing to do, and not for money (which he gave up) or fame (which he already had). That extremely compelling aspect of Tillman's personality was very poorly explored and highlighted in Krakauer's book. I learned details of his life and death that I didn't know before, which is fine. But the book was not gripping, as Tillman's actual story deserves to be.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I'm a huge Krakauer fan, but this book was not his best work. The transitions between Afghan military history and US involvement in that country's affairs, and more personal information about Pat Tillman are rather awkward. Also, as much as I can't shake a stick at a man who gives up a sweet NFL career to join the military - I found Tillman to be a somewhat irritating character for his lack of realism or maturity. I believe he could have done much more good staying here and using his status and mo I'm a huge Krakauer fan, but this book was not his best work. The transitions between Afghan military history and US involvement in that country's affairs, and more personal information about Pat Tillman are rather awkward. Also, as much as I can't shake a stick at a man who gives up a sweet NFL career to join the military - I found Tillman to be a somewhat irritating character for his lack of realism or maturity. I believe he could have done much more good staying here and using his status and money to act as an agent of change, rather than to go over and fight in Afghanistan. Now he's gone, and can do no more. However, his choice to get his hands dirty and fight like anyone else can never be underestimated. For those who haven't seen much information about Afghanistan's history leading up to our invasion post-911, this is a great book to get an overview of all of the many invasions and forms of government inflicted upon this small and destitute country. The examination of Tillman is somewhat starry-eyed, but still a solid character study - just not incredibly interesting. I wanted to love this book, but I only sort of like it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Reader

    "My heart goes out to those who will suffer. Whatever your politics, whatever you believe is right or wrong, the fact is most of those who will feel the wrath of this ordeal want nothing more than to live peacefully." This isn't a book you critique. This book critiques you. When's the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and earnestly rated your patriotism? How much of the news feeds related to the Global War on Terror do you really believe? Would you leave behind a wife and a multi-mi "My heart goes out to those who will suffer. Whatever your politics, whatever you believe is right or wrong, the fact is most of those who will feel the wrath of this ordeal want nothing more than to live peacefully." This isn't a book you critique. This book critiques you. When's the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and earnestly rated your patriotism? How much of the news feeds related to the Global War on Terror do you really believe? Would you leave behind a wife and a multi-million dollar job in the limelight to take up arms in an impossible terrain and join a war that goes against everything you believe in? What are you really willing to do to defend the freedoms most people take for granted daily? Do you think you could participate in the fabrication of how a soldier's life came to an end? Are you willing to give a family member to the Armed Services, knowing just how untrustworthy people in even - and dare I say, especially - the highest ranks can be? My younger brother, who joined the Army earlier in the year, mentioned that he wanted to read this book. I remembered enjoying Krakauer's "Into the Wild," so I gave this book a shot. Then it wound up giving me an unexpected shock. While I was expecting a biographical account of Tillman's life, I was in no way anticipating that it would be paralleled with a sequence of events that led to the perpetual conflicts in the Middle East we all know as being helpless. I learned more about modern-day history in the middle east in reading this book than I ever did reading any history books in school, where they make sure kids are current on events that occurred 200 or 2000 years ago but rarely clue them into the kind of events happening now which will most affect their life upon graduation. I love my country and I absolutely bow down to every American and Ally who has sacrificed their lives to first capturing and then maintaining the freedoms that we enjoy today. But I'm not proud of how America has handled itself behind closed doors. I'm disgusted with many of the unrighteous foreign affairs and sickening bold-faced lies I read about in this book. I am stunned we would sink so far below the principles our country was founded upon. Pat Tillman gave up everything for this great country and, in return, his country used him as a marketing tool to recruit more soldiers and win more supporters of a war that serves as yet another in a long line of examples of history repeating itself. As Kissinger said of Vietnam: "We lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerilla war: the guerilla winds if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win." If history really is properly regarded as the "progress of ideas rather than merely a record of human events," then apparently we haven't been paying attention to the progress we are supposed to be making. Not many of the recruits he attended boot camp with inspired confidence in Tillman. In his own words: "One thing I find myself despising is the sight of all of these guns in the hands of children. Of course we all understand the necessity of defense...It doesn't dismiss the fact that a young man I would not trust with my canteen is walking about armed..." Tillman didn't know it at the time, but he was foreshadowing his own demise. It wasn't Afghans who took his life - it was his own men. How ironic that tragic incidents such as this have been coined "friendly fire." What's friendly about being shot by your own men? But apparently these incidents are commonplace in any war. "Chaos is indeed the normal state of affairs on the battleground, and no army has figured out a way to plan effectively for, let alone alleviate, the so-called fog of war. When the military is confronted with the fratricidal carnage that predictably results, denial and dissembling are its time-honored responses of first resort." If I believed in war - any war - to begin with, maybe I could live with that, but what I can't live with is a man who gave up everything for his country being used to manipulate public opinion about the value of war and the state of a presidency. Tillman's family deserved the truth but instead it got one big lie after another. The Army's chain of command for covering up the truth is infuriatingly ridiculous, and the treatment Tillman's family received as thanks for sacrificing their treasured loved one is the saddest showing of honor I can imagine. This book affected me in many ways. It made me want to hug my wife tighter. It made me want to take my dog out on longer walks. It made me want to send a dozen black roses to every crooked politician in charge of the coverups described. It made me want to shake my head and cry and even vomit as I read about American soldiers being killed in battle - against themselves. But most importantly, I think, this book made me want to live every ounce of freedom we Americans have with a driving, spirited force in honor of a man who lived his values rather than just talked about them. Pat Tillman was a man of action. Regardless of his country's grotesque mishandling of his passing, nothing can take away from this man's true legacy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul Eckert

    In a perfect world, everyone would have their biography written by Jon Krakauer after their death, and that book could be passed down through the generations, and people would truly understand who you were, and they would learn something and be inspired by your story. Unfortunately, we live in a less than perfect world, and if Jon Krakauer writes a book about you, then your death was untimely, tragic, and undeserved. Where Men Win Glory is the story of Pat Tillman, the NFL football player that ga In a perfect world, everyone would have their biography written by Jon Krakauer after their death, and that book could be passed down through the generations, and people would truly understand who you were, and they would learn something and be inspired by your story. Unfortunately, we live in a less than perfect world, and if Jon Krakauer writes a book about you, then your death was untimely, tragic, and undeserved. Where Men Win Glory is the story of Pat Tillman, the NFL football player that gave up a $3 million contract to enlist with the US Army to kill those responsible for the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan. He was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, and a circus of government cover ups and lies ensued. We quickly learn, however, that there was a lot more to Pat Tillman than just this one selfless act of patriotism. Tillman was a complex individual, at once a fiercely independent alpha-male that defied the odds to accomplish his dreams, and also a super-sensitive, intelligent guy that eloquently and fearlessly expressed his deepest emotions in a journal. The Krakauer formula of alternating between character profile and historical works yet again in this book. He seamlessly interweaves the history of Afghanistan history, the rise of the Taliban, the Bush presidency, and Pat Tillman's high school and college years. We see how these independent events eventually converge into 9/11, which inspired Tillman to join the Army, and also led to his death. The history of Afghanistan is really interesting, and it gives a deeper understanding of its people and the chaos it's been through in the last 30 years. The history of the Bush presidency was also interesting, and included some facts that I was unaware of. Some will be tempted to say Krakauer betrays a political bias against Bush. Despite any bias, Krakauer sticks to the facts, and these facts never seem intended to get in a cheapshot at Bush, but rather show how executive-level decisions can affect the lives of ordinary people. Krakauer uses interviews and anecdotes from family and friends, colleagues, co-workers, and direct passages from Tillman's diary to build the fascinating story of Pat Tillman and who he was beyond the headlines. Even though I'm rather cynical about the military and how it's used in America, I was truly inspired by Pat's strong work ethic and sense of duty in his story. But I was equally inspired by his introspective journal writing, and I have been trying to write more in a journal that sees entries often six months apart. The unintended effect of this story was that at times it made me really sad. Though it does a great job of celebrating Tillman's life, we often view his loss through the eyes of family and friends, and it's just heartbreaking. I haven't lost a lot of people in my life, so stories like this help me sympathize with those that have. Krakauer's prose is at turns grandiose, informative, and heartbreaking. I caught myself wishing he would write about my life, but without the grisly death and everything. I listened to the audiobook version, and Scott Brick did an excellent job of narrating the story. His voice perfectly embodies the spirit of Krakauer's writing, lending it the appropriate level of gravitas and timbre. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Jon Krakauer's writing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Garrett

    I really like Krakauer, and he is an excellent, thorough, chronicle storyteller. If you enjoy Krakauer and his style of writing, you should pick this up. You'll enjoy it, as I did. I enjoyed both the story of Tillman (and by extension, a part and parcel analysis of the military's role in his death) with the modern history of Afghanistan - a history with which I was previously unaware. As a separate story, the modern history of the Middle East is fascinating, but this history doesn't really have m I really like Krakauer, and he is an excellent, thorough, chronicle storyteller. If you enjoy Krakauer and his style of writing, you should pick this up. You'll enjoy it, as I did. I enjoyed both the story of Tillman (and by extension, a part and parcel analysis of the military's role in his death) with the modern history of Afghanistan - a history with which I was previously unaware. As a separate story, the modern history of the Middle East is fascinating, but this history doesn't really have much to do with Pat Tillman as a person. A big part of the presentation was that Pat was a complete person and has been undersold as a person because of the common framing he has as an NFL player and/or martyr, and advancing Afghanistan as needed context is more in service of Krakauer's disgust with the Bush administration and the military than it does with Tillman, the person. More on Krakauer in a moment. The book also blows the myth of George W. Bush to smithereens. Now, in the era of Trump, we're hungry for any semblance of humanity in politics, and we have collectively forgotten the heinous actions of his presidency. And for why? - because of his friendship with Michelle Obama? It wasn't long ago that we, as a country, wondered aloud if W. would go down as one of the all-time worst presidents in American history. To be honest, the brief history of the Middle East and Afghanistan Krakauer provides was my favorite part, and I'll be following up on this newfound intrigue. I wish Krakauer wrote more narrative history. Again, he's deft at chronicle narration. The thing about Krakauer: he editorializes. A lot. He will let you know what he thinks about everything as he goes. I happen to agree with his sentiments, general conclusions, and his writing demeanor, so I enjoy that added flavor. If that's not your style, you will probably find it grating. If you're a staunch neo-con, you will probably find the book unreadable. But if you're a fan of Krakauer's already, you know better by now. If he is famous for the stories he tells, the controversies that surround his books come as a close second. 3.5/5 Rounded up.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    There is so much to say about this travesty that was fostered on Pat Tillman and his family. To know that there are people in our military who are so devious and such cover up liars is super upsetting. Jon Krakauer paints a very depressing picture of the events that surrounded Pat Tillman's death. The fact that Pat will killed by friendly fire is horrible, but the idea that the army covered up this occurrence was awful. Soldiers are often killed by friendly fire and many of our troops are aware There is so much to say about this travesty that was fostered on Pat Tillman and his family. To know that there are people in our military who are so devious and such cover up liars is super upsetting. Jon Krakauer paints a very depressing picture of the events that surrounded Pat Tillman's death. The fact that Pat will killed by friendly fire is horrible, but the idea that the army covered up this occurrence was awful. Soldiers are often killed by friendly fire and many of our troops are aware that this is a possibility. Most alarming in Pat's story was that others tried to advance their own careers by covering up what had happened. Pat was a noble young man, a man who wanted to achieve that ability to be a man who is willing to stand up and do what he considers was right. Pat's being an "alpha male" as the author keeps on saying of him perhaps was the reason why he was where he wound up. It was infuriating to read of the many ways the government tried to "glorify" Pat's enlistment as well as his death. It was not as if his death was recognized for the tragedy it was but more for what the notoriety could do for others. How tragic too, was the fact that his family could not get the full story and were led astray by the many incorrect things that were said and done. All in all this was a maddening read for me. It gave one pause to consider that if we conduct ourselves in this manner, what hope is there for any of our soldiers in the military. The book left me feeling depressed and somewhat helpless as I am sure The Tillmans have felt many times. What a shame that Pat's act of courage and bravery have been so overshadowed by deceit and lies. The only complaint I have against the book is that the inherent dislike one feels that Mr Krakauer bears for the former President. In a way, it spoils the telling of this story as it is inappropriate when writing a biography to infuse your own ideas on the reader.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    This is probably a 3.5 star book. Any other author I'd give the benefit of the doubt; given that it's Captain Swarthy himself I have to reserve a bit harsher judgment. When this book is on, it's really on. I read it in 3 sittings, swept up in a narrative I already knew the conclusion to (and hoped would turn out otherwise). The prose left me breathless, and with an overwhelming sense of righteous indignation at 6+ years of unjust war and outright lies from those perpetrating it. But - and this b This is probably a 3.5 star book. Any other author I'd give the benefit of the doubt; given that it's Captain Swarthy himself I have to reserve a bit harsher judgment. When this book is on, it's really on. I read it in 3 sittings, swept up in a narrative I already knew the conclusion to (and hoped would turn out otherwise). The prose left me breathless, and with an overwhelming sense of righteous indignation at 6+ years of unjust war and outright lies from those perpetrating it. But - and this book would have received many more stars if there weren't a but - this book was supposed to be about Pat Tillman, a character ripe for the Krakauer treatment ("Kraking," in my personal parlance). All the elements were there: an exceptional individual governed by an unassailable moral code. Thoughtful and intense, a peaceful warrior driven by an inherent sense of mission, and led to an unfortunate end by a world far more susceptible to petty hubris. But Krakauer never really gets into Tillman's head. He's a character in the story, but we never get to know him like we did Chris McCandless or the Lafferty brothers. It's no surprise publication was delayed a year while the author retooled the book. I'm not sure if further delay would have fixed things, but as it stands this is a good book that misses becoming a great book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    I really enjoy Krakauer's writing, so much so that this is the fourth book written by him that I've read in the past year. I also purchased two other books (on this topic) and a documentary after reading his version of the Pat Tillman story. Thus it goes without saying that I gave this five stars. What is the book about? The obvious answer is Pat Tillman, the famous football player who gave up a multi-million dollar contract to enlist in the army after the September 11th attacks. Pat's story alone I really enjoy Krakauer's writing, so much so that this is the fourth book written by him that I've read in the past year. I also purchased two other books (on this topic) and a documentary after reading his version of the Pat Tillman story. Thus it goes without saying that I gave this five stars. What is the book about? The obvious answer is Pat Tillman, the famous football player who gave up a multi-million dollar contract to enlist in the army after the September 11th attacks. Pat's story alone is a remarkable one. (view spoiler)[ A super athlete, who apparently was also a gifted baseball player, Tillman tackled his way into the NFL and eventually a starting position - something only a few talented men ever do - despite his relatively small size. Receiving a full scholarship to ASU, he graduated with a 3.8 grade point average. He then pursued a master's degree while playing professional ball. He married his high school sweetheart, whom he had known most of his life, and adored her until the day he died. He was an atheist who believed in living this life to its fullest and whom people claimed never went any where without a book. He turned down a lucrative contract from the Saints - stunning many - in order to continue to play for the Cardinals, the organization that had picked him in the last round and given him the chance to prove himself. His decision to join the army - along with his younger brother - stemmed from a desire to do the right thing, even though it meant leaving his career at its pinnacle and his new wife - arguably a "perfect" life. (hide spoiler)] But it's not just a story about Pat, as interesting as his life was. It is also a recounting of America's complicated relationship with the Middle East, including early U.S. support of groups - which coincidentally evolved into al-qaeda and the Taliban - that could help nullify the Soviet threat.(view spoiler)[ It discusses how America helped to train, finance, and ultimately lay the groundwork for the terrorist forces that would become enemy number one. In fact, some could say the U.S. played into Osama bin Laden's hands. He wanted desperately to drag the Americans into what he deemed an un-winnable, not to mention expensive and crippling, military conflict (mission accomplished). It turns out, our invasion of Iraq and removal and later execution of Saddam Hussein, a man Osama detested, was simply icing on the cake. (hide spoiler)] Except, that's not all. It's also a story about propaganda, lies, political whitewashing, and doublespeak. (view spoiler)[ When Pat Tillman is killed by friendly fire, the powers-that-be do everything possible to mislead the public. Not only do they withhold the fact that Pat is killed by his fellow Rangers (from his family and the public), but they instead suggest he is the victim of an ambush and then quickly prop him up as a hero,using his story to garner support for the war at a time when support was waning. Considering Pat's views on the matter, this was extremely disrespectful to the man who had made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. (hide spoiler)] And somehow, Krakauer weaves it all together into one cohesive and riveting read. Would recommend to Krakauer fans - he does not disappoint - and/or anyone with an interest in Pat Tillman and his story. Complementary themes that might interest are the cover-up angle as well as the extraordinary sacrifices that military families make(that most of us are spared)during times of war. Other Krakauer books I enjoyed: Into the Wild Into Thin Air Under the Banner of Heaven

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I’ve been finished with Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory for over a week now. But this is one of those books that stirs up emotions, ones like anger and frustration, and it took me some time to figure out what exactly I want to say. Jon Krakauer has covered in other books a fundamentalist Mormon sect murder, the 1996 Everest disaster, and the story of an Emory University kid trying to make it in the wilds of Alaska. I read and really liked all of those books, so when I saw Where Men Win Glory o I’ve been finished with Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory for over a week now. But this is one of those books that stirs up emotions, ones like anger and frustration, and it took me some time to figure out what exactly I want to say. Jon Krakauer has covered in other books a fundamentalist Mormon sect murder, the 1996 Everest disaster, and the story of an Emory University kid trying to make it in the wilds of Alaska. I read and really liked all of those books, so when I saw Where Men Win Glory on a recent bookstore trip, I picked it up without hesitation. You probably remember the story of Pat Tillman. He was the Arizona Cardinals football player, who left behind a fairly lucrative NFL career to enlist, with his brother Kevin, in the Army after 9/11. After a tour first in Iraq, Tillman was killed by friendly fire during his last tour in Afghanistan. In true form, Krakauer provides a thorough history of Pat Tillman, from his early sports days to the time he spent in Juvenile Hall for fighting, to his relationship with friends and family, and of course his decision to enlist and all its repercussions. Also in true form, Krakauer lays out the very facts that incited the anger and frustration I felt when I was reading this book. I remember bits and pieces of the story but when it broke, I was working some crazy hours and not paying too much attention to the news. I missed the full ramifications of the story. Reading this, I finally understood. So what brought on the anger and frustration? Two things: Krakauer explains how the Army completely failed to follow protocol, thereby failing Tillman’s company, and of course, Tillman himself. Then, the whole cover up that ensued after his death, a cover up that reached all the way to White House Staffers. Had Tillman’s family not been who they are, we might never have known about the fratricide. This is what Krakauer does best. He weaves the history and backstory into the crux of the real story. He presents his facts and interviews and stirs the emotions in his readers. In Into Thin Air, you feel the desperation of those stranded on Everest, and in Where Men Win Glory, you feel the anger, frustration, and determination of the Tillman family in the aftermath of his death. Krakauer writes non-fiction, but his books read like novels. He takes an unusual circumstance and weaves facts together in a way that keeps the reader turning the page, wanting to know what happens next, even if we already know the outcome of the story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Jon Krakauer is the absolute best at what he does--which is delivering unbelievable biographies about some of the most extreme challenges in human kind. This book needs to be added into every military branch's recommended reading lists. The story of Pat Tillman fascinated me in the news from day one. When he was killed I, like everyone else, thought it was tragic and wanted to believe he went down fighting off the Taliban and defending his brothers in arms. When I was stationed at Bagram AB in A Jon Krakauer is the absolute best at what he does--which is delivering unbelievable biographies about some of the most extreme challenges in human kind. This book needs to be added into every military branch's recommended reading lists. The story of Pat Tillman fascinated me in the news from day one. When he was killed I, like everyone else, thought it was tragic and wanted to believe he went down fighting off the Taliban and defending his brothers in arms. When I was stationed at Bagram AB in Afghanistan, I had been to the Pat Tillman USO on base--just across the street from the air terminal. When it was revealed that it was his own brothers that killed him, I was stunned but understood that these things do happen in war. It is accepted into part of the culture. What was reprehensible was the deception and falsifying of every bit of data having to do with his death. The clear "cover-my-own-ass" mentality of the Army and the Bush administration is a direct reflection of the most shameful elements of the previous administration. Pat Tillman as a person is fascinating enough. He is a hero simply because he was who he was. He did not put on airs because he was an NFL football player. He never took advantage of his celebrity. He never wanted to be manipulated by anyone--whether it was friends, family, the NFL or even the Army. And yet to have the Army and the Bush admin USE him for their own gain and their own advantage is unforgivable. I truly wished that could have even known Pat Tillman the man. From reading this, I can't imagine anyone else who exemplified what it means to be a real caring, compassionate and knowledgable human being. He is the person all should strive to be like--smart, caring, respectful and endearing to those who knew him well. Why those in the Army (his own Chain of Command even!) attempted to take advantage of his memory for their own gain, is something I can never forget. The Army especially needs to hand this book out as required reading to their NCO's and Officers and have a "teachable moment" on how true soldiers in this all-volunteer Army need to be. There is strong. There is Army strong. And there is Pat Tillman Strong. I think I will take the latter of the 3.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tanveer

    Every book I've read by Krakauer (and I've now read all of them) has left me feeling incredibly outraged and crushed at the same time. You see so much of yourself in the protagonists he's carefully chosen to profile that you can't help but feel every ounce of emotion through his powerful prose. Where Men Win Glory is no different. It's perhaps most similar to my favorite, Into the Wild. In both cases Krakauer brings to life stories of two young men (Chris McCandless and Pat Tillman) he's never me Every book I've read by Krakauer (and I've now read all of them) has left me feeling incredibly outraged and crushed at the same time. You see so much of yourself in the protagonists he's carefully chosen to profile that you can't help but feel every ounce of emotion through his powerful prose. Where Men Win Glory is no different. It's perhaps most similar to my favorite, Into the Wild. In both cases Krakauer brings to life stories of two young men (Chris McCandless and Pat Tillman) he's never met through the means of exhaustive research, interviews and journals. In the process he sheds light on un-fucking-believable conspiracies and propaganda of the Bush/Rumsfled administration that would've never made it - nor had the same impact - in a simple newspaper or magazine article. (No doubt in the following years and decades to come we'll be hearing more and more of the horrors that occurred during the years of 2000-2008.) This is probably the only nonfiction war book I've ever read - normally not my genre, but that's the mark of a great writer who'll get you to extend beyond your normal means. Without a doubt, I think Jon Krakauer is the most important nonfiction author working today.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    The only thing that kept me from throwing this book across the room in utter disgust with how the military handles fratricide was the thought that McChystal was fired. Sure, he was fired for something totally unrelated, and probably not the most culpable in the Tillman cover-up, but it’s really the only comfort available. I also didn’t think that I could be any more disgusted by the Bush administration, but this book proved that wrong. I wasn’t interested in Pat Tillman; I read it because Krakau The only thing that kept me from throwing this book across the room in utter disgust with how the military handles fratricide was the thought that McChystal was fired. Sure, he was fired for something totally unrelated, and probably not the most culpable in the Tillman cover-up, but it’s really the only comfort available. I also didn’t think that I could be any more disgusted by the Bush administration, but this book proved that wrong. I wasn’t interested in Pat Tillman; I read it because Krakauer wrote it. The first sections on Tillman provide the background of the man and how he came to make his decision to quit the NFL and become a Ranger (some of which, especially the football parts, are skimmable). I almost wish that Krakauer had concentrated more on the family than on Pat because it was his mom and his brother’s vigilance and refusal to give up that made the government/military admit to the little that they did. It is just astounding that friendly fire injuries and deaths are so routine and so routinely covered up. If you like Krakauer’s work, this is definitely worth reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is my 3rd or 4th Jon Krakauer book. I like the idea behind his books and I can appreciate the research that goes into all of them, but I'm having a tough time embracing the actual published works. This one was a sad story which I found interesting and I think this story needs to be told. But the author diddled around along the way in his build up. I would have skimmed some parts if I was actually reading this. But I did the audio and skimming is hard to do on my mp3 player. The buttons are This is my 3rd or 4th Jon Krakauer book. I like the idea behind his books and I can appreciate the research that goes into all of them, but I'm having a tough time embracing the actual published works. This one was a sad story which I found interesting and I think this story needs to be told. But the author diddled around along the way in his build up. I would have skimmed some parts if I was actually reading this. But I did the audio and skimming is hard to do on my mp3 player. The buttons are too sensitive to do that and usually costs me more time. So 3 stars for the overall content, but I'd prefer less dry tangents. Scott Brick, the narrator, was the spoon full of sugar.

  26. 5 out of 5

    C.J. English

    Unforgettable. Insightful yet so sad. I learned a lot about the history and present day state of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia without being bored out of my mind from a text book. The atrocities these people have endured at the hands of their own and the rest of the world are unforgivable. I have a new perspective, much needed in today's political culture, for our part, past and future in the Middle East. Engaging, thought provoking read. I wish the Tillman family closure and dese Unforgettable. Insightful yet so sad. I learned a lot about the history and present day state of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia without being bored out of my mind from a text book. The atrocities these people have endured at the hands of their own and the rest of the world are unforgivable. I have a new perspective, much needed in today's political culture, for our part, past and future in the Middle East. Engaging, thought provoking read. I wish the Tillman family closure and deserved peace.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Roy

    Oh. My. God. He had written another. At long last...ladies and gentlemen, guard your small children and animals on the day this one comes out (September of 2009) - the bullet flying by will be me trying to get to the book store first. Can't wait for the library on this one!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bea Elwood

    An amazing man, an amazing family, and a chilling story. Krakauer brings his narrative talents together to give you a complete, and therefore complicated, story of a man driven to put his beliefs into action. The flaws and shortcomings, the disappointment and disillusion. Tillman is not perfect but he was a man people admired not because of his star status but because of his character. He was a hero which is why his death did not need to be distorted or a false pictured painted. The tragic event An amazing man, an amazing family, and a chilling story. Krakauer brings his narrative talents together to give you a complete, and therefore complicated, story of a man driven to put his beliefs into action. The flaws and shortcomings, the disappointment and disillusion. Tillman is not perfect but he was a man people admired not because of his star status but because of his character. He was a hero which is why his death did not need to be distorted or a false pictured painted. The tragic events of his death should be used to teach and train young men in future situations, it should be an example used to help change a deeply engrained culture that helped set in motion the behaviors and attitudes that were at the heart of this accident.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I don't think there's anything wrong with this book to merit 2 lost stars, I just didn't much love it. I made a New Year's resolution that rather than struggling to slowly complete a book I wasn't enjoying, I'd stop reading it, but I'm failing utterly at keeping this resolution and it took me, what? Two months to finish this? Embarrassing. I guess partially it's because the fact that the Bush administration was fucking evil and that we never should have been in either of the two wars that continu I don't think there's anything wrong with this book to merit 2 lost stars, I just didn't much love it. I made a New Year's resolution that rather than struggling to slowly complete a book I wasn't enjoying, I'd stop reading it, but I'm failing utterly at keeping this resolution and it took me, what? Two months to finish this? Embarrassing. I guess partially it's because the fact that the Bush administration was fucking evil and that we never should have been in either of the two wars that continue to drag on is such tiresome old news. But I suppose this was a good reminder. Oh yeah, now I remember what lying, propaganda-pushing, terrible people the Bush administration were! For me, Pat Tillman having joined the army when he was so smart and should have known better is almost unforgivable. I mean, when 9/11 happened, I was 18 and a sophomore in college, and I immediately wrote an opinion article in my large university's newspaper about how we mustn't suddenly act as if the Bush administration was now trustworthy, mustn't use this as fodder for propaganda and war, and how any war we started would be impossible to win, would empower our enemies, and would continue for many years. The angry reaction I received to that article ultimately made me quit my position as an opinions columnist and join up with the campus anarchists. Why, oh why, oh WHY didn't Pat Tillman know better? How could he have possibly been so surprised that when you're a hired gun in an occupying force, those in power treat you like a pawn, with little regard to your skills and usefulness in this world? How could he have suffered from such naivety? For me, it's incomprehensible. Now he's dead. It's too bad he never got to have that meeting with Noam Chomsky he'd organized. It's too bad he never accomplished anything useful in his life at all. He was just wasted flesh. He's lucky that he never had the chance to kill any "enemy" fighters because that is deeply immoral, as we are all brothers and sisters. When I was a kid, my dad recommended to me that I read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, so I did. There is a part in that book when there are many human colonists on Mars, but they get word that there is a big war going on back on Earth, so all the colonists leave to join the fight. I was totally puzzled by this and asked my dad about it. Why would they want join a war? I'd think they'd be grateful to be on Mars, away from the war! My dad thought about it and said that the book was written before the Vietnam War, and before then, it used to be that people felt obligated to fight in wars, and assumed their country was right to be in a war. Well, Pat Tillman lived after Vietnam and he had no excuse. His valor, intelligence, and hardworking nature was totally wasted due to the stupidity of trusting the government. Please let his story be a lesson to you. The government is not your friend, and they are not honorable, and they don't care about you.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I've read and enjoyed everything Krakauer has written, but I wasn't too thrilled by this subject. I knew little about Tillman other than the basics of the story, and I have sort of given up reading books about the Bush years because they usually just rile me up without bringing anything new to the table. My impression was that Tillman would be a jingoistic meat-head type who got caught up in an unfortunate but predictable propaganda spree. I'd urge anyone who has given this book a pass for simil I've read and enjoyed everything Krakauer has written, but I wasn't too thrilled by this subject. I knew little about Tillman other than the basics of the story, and I have sort of given up reading books about the Bush years because they usually just rile me up without bringing anything new to the table. My impression was that Tillman would be a jingoistic meat-head type who got caught up in an unfortunate but predictable propaganda spree. I'd urge anyone who has given this book a pass for similar reasons (left or right) to reconsider. This is a book about a very uncommon man who defies easy classification, but whom I found to be extremely inspiring. He was a world class athlete (pro-bowl level safety) who was intellectually curious. He was extremely self-aware, aware of his weaknesses and constantly striving to test himself. Maybe most interestingly, he was able to love his family, especially his wife and brother (who was in his platoon the day he died), with an uncommon level of devotion. He was an atheist who had an uncommonly strong and unambiguous personal moral code. I give the book 5 stars because I think its probably Krakauer's best work. Tillman was not an easy subject for a biography I think because he was so uncommon. The author didn't hide his admiration for the man, but mostly avoided turning into a gushing faucet of smarm. His skills at research and interviewing people, which are apparent in all his books, are really well suited for Tillman's story. The author leaves no doubt about what happens on the day Tillman is tragically and needlessly killed by his own platoon, nor how the cover up happened. But he doesn't dwell on politics or the aftermath - you get the feeling there are chapters he purposefully leaves out to leave the focus on Tillman the man, not the myth. Maybe not every reader will feel this way, but Pat Tillman catapulted from out of nowhere into my personal hero list through this biography. And really it has little to do with the fact that he was a wealthy NFL star who gave his life for his country, because his life was traded for nothing as I'm sure he would agree. He had extraordinary gifts, he knew it, and he quietly lived the way he thought he should. Thanks to Krakauer for doing such a great job in bringing his life and death to us in this book.

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