Memoir of America’s most prolific sniper, with an emphasis on the grisly, unpredictable nature of contemporary warfare.
With more than 250 confirmed kills in Iraq and several citations for bravery, including two Silver Stars, Kyle may well be the “most lethal” soldier in American military history. Fortunately, this memoir (written with co-authors Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice) takes a more unassuming and approachable tone in narrating his improbable journey from a modest Texas childhood to becoming a sniper with SEAL Team 3 and serving four deployments in Iraq: “my so-called ‘legend’ [has] a lot to do with luck.” As with other recent books about the SEALs, they are depicted as a breed apart: hyper-competitive, with the most intense training, hazing and bonding rituals (the latter involving much drinking and fighting). Kyle is unapologetic about his own conservative persona, and perhaps not the ideal spokesman for military public relations. The highlights of the narrative are the grim yet often funny accounts of Kyle’s violent battles all over Iraq, most of which are described crisply. The author describes his participation in numerous urban battles, such as the protracted struggles for Ramadi and Fallujah, and asserts that elite operators like himself contributed to Iraq’s evolving stability—“it took violence of action to create a situation where there could be peace.” Kyle provides a few surprising moments, as when he writes eloquently about his fellow veterans, including SEALs killed or wounded in battle. “There’s no reason someone who has fought for their country should be homeless or jobless,” he writes. Kyle’s wife offers her counterpoint narrative in italicized passages, driving home the surreal life of difficulty bestowed on professional warriors’ loved ones.
This aggressively written account of frontline combat, with plenty of action and technical nitty-gritty, should appeal to conservative readers and military buffs.