Review: "American Sniper" by Chris Kyle

American Sniperis the autobiography of legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, the brash Texan who had four combat tours in the Iraq war and racked up the most confirmed “kills” in U.S. military history.

Raised on a ranch in Texas, Kyle studied agriculture in college for 2 years before dropping out. He found work as a ranch hand and a professional bronco rider. After an arm injury derailed his cowboy career, Kyle enlisted in the Navy at age 24. Before long he made his way into the SEALs.  

Kyle’s first kill took place on his 2nd Iraq tour, when a woman in Fallujah, holding an infant, tried to throw a grenade at some Marines. His farthest confirmed kill took place in 2008 near Sadr City at 2,100 yards away. Kyle saw an insurgent with a rocket launcher moving towards an American convoy and killed him with a single round. 

The book is interspersed with brief thoughts from his wife Taya. Taya doesn’t sugarcoat the hardship of being a young wife and mother thousands of miles from her deployed husband. And she writes honestly about the rejection she felt when Chris chose to re-enlist and return to Iraq. Including her perspective is a nice touch.

A warning for people who don’t like warrior culture – after reading some other reviews of “American Sniper,” apparently some people think Kyle comes across as unsympathetic or unfeeling toward the Iraqi people. Get real, people. Kyle was a warrior and he was sent to Iraq to fight and win a war. So my advice is, if you don’t like warrior culture, this just isn’t the book for you.

I should mention one disappointment, which I chalk up to reading the book before seeing the movie. I had heard so many people rave about the movie, I expected more suspense and drama and intensity in the book. But it’s just not there. I think that’s because several chapters of the book are accounts of pursuing and shooting insurgents, and after awhile the accounts become mundane, not dramatic.  

Kyle was tragically shot and killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a fellow Iraq war veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  

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