Monday, September 14, 2015

American Sniper : Chris Kyle | Book Review w/ @sslluvsbooks

Rating: 73%
Series: None
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Authobiography, 
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Page Count: 416
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library via Overdrive

Goodreads Synopsis: From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle's kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. He recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot outside Baghdad; in Fallujah, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on a street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war—of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends.

American Sniper also honors Kyles fellow warriors, who raised hell on and off the battlefield. And in moving first-person accounts throughout, Kyles wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their marriage and children, as well as on Chris.

Adrenaline-charged and deeply personal, American Sniper is a thrilling eyewitness account of war that only one man could tell. 

Background & Backstory
This will probably sound ridiculous, but I never intended to read this book. If you're subscribed to my YouTube Channel, you may know this, but I recently became re-obsessed with audiobooks. Since August, I've had my visual book I'm reading - either on my Kindle or as a hard copy - and my audiobook simply because I find it a more productive and efficient use of my time as opposed to watching YouTube for hours on end (come on, we're all guilty of this). For the books I assume will take me a long time to read because of density or reluctance, I listen to them, and I've found this works wonders. American Sniper is a book I've been wanting to read since I saw the movie last February but because of its focus on the military, I knew it would take me forever to pick up a physical copy. I put it on hold via overdrive and when it became available, my thinking was, "What the heck? I might as well listen to it."

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?

September 4-6 | With that said, American Sniper was everything I expected it to be and I had the same issues with the book as I had with the movie. A problem many reviewers (myself included) have with non fiction is the guilt that comes with any serious critique of the text. Pertaining to a novel, while you are insulting the author's decisions, they still are the AUTHOR'S decisions versus non fiction where you're insulting AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING'S LIFE AND EXPERIENCE. I deeply admire and respect the sacrifices and choices Chris Kyle made for America, but this review is on how he conveyed his own journey as a sniper.

What I'd like to start off by saying is - Thank God everyone is different and that we have courageous men and women in this world who are willing to defend this country. It's common knowledge with firsthand accounts such as Kyle's, but to be part of the military takes an infinite amount of dedication and commitment. On a much smaller, less significant scale, I have a slight taste with the persistence it takes. I run cross country and there are days when I think to myself, "Who in their right mind would ever want to participate in a sport where the goal is to push your body to the limit and end the day with your tank completely empty?" Enduring is not for the feint of heart and the motivation can't come from someone else yelling at you. Navy SEALS' jobs are unlike anyone else and the training alone is enough to kill 99% of the people on this planet, which is of course, the reason why only the best of the best live to tell the tale.

On the flip side, there is no chance you are catching me any time soon marrying someone in the military. I know I don't have the strength of character to not have my family be my spouse's first priority. It's simply the way I was raised and my personal values. Chris Kyle's marriage and children suffered so much with the amount of dedication he had to the military and his sense of duty was simply extraordinary.

In terms of the way American Sniper was set up, I definitely think Kyle's co-authors could have structured it differently to accommodate for a larger audience of non-military personnel readers. As it was, they did a great job of interspersing other people's perspectives throughout Chris' narration. Nevertheless, as someone who is not familiar with the military, there seemed to be a lot of repetition in terms of Chris Kyle's focus as he regaled the tale of one battle after another. There were a lot of details surrounding what type of gun, situation, and kill it was that meant (on a comprehension level) absolutely nothing to me.

Another issue I hesitate to bring up that I had with Chris Kyle was the way he appeared to so easily fit into the stereotypical redneck mold. The south already gets enough grief with non-country music fans making fun of pick up trucks and beer, but it seemed as if Kyle could have been plucked from one of Luke Bryan's chart topping singles. He had an extreme amount of faith in God and his sense of duty to America was astonishing. It only bothered me because I am unfamiliar with it and I couldn't personally relate.

Conclusion: American Sniper is a fully immersive, uncensored account of Chris Kyle's experience as a Navy SEAL sniper, but more importantly, a dedicated United States citizen.

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