Customer Reviews: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
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Showing 1-10 of 406 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on June 7, 2015
With all due respect, this book offers exactly what you'd expect in poorly executed form. Kyle, while commendable for his service and deserving of respect and mourning for his passing, is not a storyteller, nor is he a particularly insightful as an author, narrator, or character. So blinded is he to his own story, he needs his wife to come in and narrate why his repeated decision to re-enlist was so damaging to her because he simply cannot. A reader who picks up on his inability to see clearly carries it through the text, constantly questioning what, if anything, he writes about is true and, if you're like me, is unsurprised by the verdict of the Ventura v. Kyle case. This book is a construction of what Kyle would have wanted you to think of him--it's his way to continue to maintaining his paradoxical desire to be known, respected and congratulated for his work as a "silent, secret professional bad-ass." It is veritably untrue in many ways and self-serving, laced with subtext that contradicts what he asserts throughout. It's a case study into a self-congratulatory attitude of physical, mental and moral superiority over the "savages"; an attitude that is, commendably, driven by the desire to protect his brothers in arms (sort of), but refuses to question (and mocks anyone who does) why American soldiers are in danger at all. Despite his continual assertion that he does what he does because he loves the American people, he is subtly furious and certainly confused when characters in the text views him and his brothers-in-arms as less than heroes. Although he asserts he's no better than anyone else, the subtext speaks very differently; he certainly believes himself above the law. Throughout the book he unapologetically feels entitled to pardon from all of his illegal and reckless actions, perhaps most offensively from his arrest in Kuwait after drunkenly fighting the local civilian population, in which he casually describes his release from jail when American officials demand it, casually writing “if you’ve read this far, you’ve caught on to that SEALs can be persuasive. The Kuwaitis finally saw it [our] way and released us” (314). Sorry, Chris, a good person does not assault civilians, or at the very least reports it with a hint of regret. Your record as a serviceman does not place you absolve the law...except, well, I guess it does, but only because the SEALs don't respect foreign laws.

By all means, purchase this book if you are interested in his story, but do not expect a quality story to be told by anything other than the man characterized above. I have a lot of beef with it, personally, that is objectively and completely separate from his absolutely tragic death. There is so much good in the heart of this man I am disappointed that it is overshadowed by what can only be described as the worst parts of his character. I worry about the way some readers have eaten this up without question, how they too believe Kyle to be what he is portrayed in this book, a God-given soldier with a mission to kill overseas. I worry about the kind of culture those who believe Kyle's narrative tells emotional truth will say about this war and the righteousness of it. This book, and discussion surrounding it, seems very interested in respecting honoring the man and in doing so, seems unable to see the complexity of him as a human being and moral figure--instead asserting the simple claim that the book, the morality it exposes and the quality of the production are wholly inseparable. I vehemently believe that, while the man deserves to be mourned as any American warrior, this book is dramatically unfair to reality and morality of this war in the way it represents deeply complex issues as black and white in the context of absolutism. Not to mention, again, it's an overall poorly written and constructed book.

If you're looking for a hero, you'll find one in Chris Kyle. If you're looking for any shred of emotional truth, any glimpse of the nature of the War on Terror, you'll find only war propaganda and deeply slanted perspective sold to you with the ethos of absolute truth.
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on February 7, 2013
This is a negative review. I feel genuinely bad writing it so close to Mr. Kyle's death but I finished the book not 2 days before those tragic events. I do not speak negatively of Mr. Kyle. He is a true American hero in every sense of the word. His contributions to this country both in and out of the Navy are deserving of the highest praise. This book, however, did not meet my expectations (subjective) and is poorly written (objective.)
Allow me to address my subjective criticism first by prefacing that I spent 2006 fighting in Ramadi and had worked with the "sister platoon" he mentioned on several occasions in the eastern part of the city. Given that this book has the subtitle: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. I expected a good bit of coverage of his wartime experience. Instead, I got short quips, no details, and a good bit of complaining. As someone who was there, I would have appreciated more tactical details. What training was most useful and what could be discarded? How were your hide spots chosen? What was going on around your locations? What gear did you use/prefer? As a regular line infantryman, I was fairly limited in what I could do and where I could go. I would have appreciated those viewpoints from someone in the SEALS who had considerably more freedom and discretion. Paint me a picture of what's occurring. Too many of the wartime experiences are little more than "we went into a building, watched a road, shot the bad guys." Perhaps you want details of the strenuous SEAL training? You won't find it here.
Readers should be advised that this is more of an autobiography than anything. You'll be ¼ of the way through before he even joins the military. I couldn't care less about his bronco-busting days or how his wife fell for him because he was "hard and muscular and sensitive." The frequent interruptions in his story for his wife's point of view were annoying and unwelcomed.
Mr. Kyle's writing does not do justice to the SEALS. Rather than coming away thinking of this elite unit as the quiet professions they are supposed to be, I came away regarding them as a bunch of rowdy frat-boys who do nothing but get drunk and fight in bars. Perhaps I'm a bit spoiled by the work of genius that is "Inside Delta Force" by Eric Haney. I was hoping for more of that sort of writing excellence but I was severely disappointed.
My subjective criticisms may not matter to you. Perhaps you would like this autobiography if you do not have my high expectations; but hear my objective criticism first. Mr. Kyle is no author. His writing has all the depth of a 10th grade book report. I had no expectations of Shakespearian prose from an enlisted military man (I'm not saying it couldn't happen, just that I did not expect it.) When I saw 3 names on the book: Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, Jim DeFelice, I assumed one of them would be able to write a decent paragraph. It's not abhorrent English; it's just shallow and sloppy. For example, it would have been nice to see a descriptive adjective other than "bad-ass" over and over again. Clearly this book was a gimmick, thrown together simply to cash in on Mr. Kyle's "most prolific sniper" title while the country is hungry for all things SEAL. If Mr. Kyle's family continues to make money off it, I have no problem with a little capitalism. I only feel the need to dispute all the glowing reviews of this book by people who wouldn't know a well-written book if it hit them center-mass.
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on June 21, 2016
Abysmal, one of the most poorly written books I've ever read (I got through it) A 10 year old with only an average grasp of english could have done a better job. All the pitiful chest beating was hard to stomach.However having said that, the world needs men like Chris Kyle to help extinguish the lives of cowardly terrorists/jihadists who target civilians (soft targets) in the name of ?????'religion' (yeah, right)- but in Iraq it was the U.S. who were the invading terrorists. The U.S. administration and it's allies knew there were NO WMDs but just wanted Sadam Hussein out. It was a real shame this family man was murdered by a lone 'fruitloop' whom he was trying to help in his hometown. As a guy who went to war for his country 10/10 but as an author... not so great. Sure, soldiers do not usually make the most amazing writers, their stories are way too personal and real for that and war is.....war.
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on January 23, 2014
Let me start by saying a few things. I am not a liberal. I am not a pacifist. I am a fairly conservative libertarian type. I also happen to be a Christian. I was excited to read this at first. The more I read, the more I thought Chris Kyle might be a psychopath. Nobody should enjoy killing. Guess what? That is the impression you will get if you read this book. I get that people in the military use foul language sometimes, but does that mean you have to translate it onto paper were it can be proof read? His attitude towards his family made me want to vomit. He's a "Christian" but he likes to wind down watching porn and beating the crap out of people and getting into bar fights? Yawn. I consider myself a down to earth Midwestern guy, but Kyle takes the cake in the redneck department. If this is the kind of man he was in real life, I would never want to be his friend. His ego is bigger than the grand canyon. And while I am not a huge Jesse Ventura fan, I think Kyle is lying his ass off about beating him down. I think he lied about the UFC thing as well...but that's a whole other story. This book is sickening. I wish I had never read this piece of filth. I have absolutely nothing against snipers. Because I actually believe that snipers save lives. Carlos Hathcock, as cliché as it sounds, is the true example of how a sniper should be both in personality and humility. I love America with all my heart, but I can't in good conscience recommend such a sleazy redneck wet dream fantasy book of tripe such as this.
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on July 22, 2013
It is a sad commentary about a young man who has chosen to go to war for his country. After a extensive program of selection to become a Navy Seal, Chris Kyle becomes an elite sniper. Whilst one applauds the success of the soldier to this point, it becomes apparent that the business of 'killing' becomes just that. A business. As one continues reads through the archives of this man's career, it is plain to see that his chosen job as a glorified murderer, has begun to consume all that the young man once may have been. That old saying, 'wars will continue for as long as there are enough men in this world who love them', is certainly shown to be true here.
Whilst the reality is 'kill or be killed' is sad to think that a young man's dream becomes such an obsession as to see him return and return to get his 'fix' of killing. This is aptly expressed in the delight and pride he shows in his writing of this sad chronicle. The number of young men around the world who clog our psychiatric clinics and hospitals as a consequence of involvement in warfare, I think is a sad indictment on the political warmongers of our time. This is not a book that I would recommend with any sense of propriety.
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on May 2, 2014
US-Navy SEALs are supposed to be the "elite" of special warfare units. They have a reputation of being s i l e n t professionals, who do not talk about their work (they carry out their missions and get on with it). That is so.
However, the deeper sense why one should read this particular book has eluded me. The reader who waits for a critical point, some kind of revelation, will be disappointed. The author, undoubtedly an accomplished sniper, keeps bragging about the amount of his kills to a point, where it becomes awkward. Having met several Navy SEALs - all quiet professionals - it appears that the author sticks out indeed. He makes an effort to appear humble and yet he fails, for it becomes ever so obvious that he considers himself beyond perfect.
Serving in an elite special warfare unit means to have accomplished something that most men have not. An effect on the ego cannot only be expected but is viewed as desirable. Chris Kyle seems to have overstated his point to a degree where one asks himself, whether or not he had significant psychological problems. His later statements about constant alcohol abuse and the perennial brawls stand for themselves...
The problems with tighter ROEs and the significant and rising influence of lawyers, who have no idea what goes on "out there" are definitely worth mentioning. Kyle definitely has a point there - and it is important to mention it. On the other hand there are also plenty of cases where those ROEs were ignored and that without consequences.
The family matters seem to have been inserted for commercial reasons only, for there is no soldier who has deployed to dangrous theatres of combat around the world, who has not experienced similar problems.
The most egregious part of the book however, deals with Kyle deriding his enemy. Whereas one can understand that it helps to dehumanize your adversary, professionals like Navy SEALs can be expected to be beyond that. Professionals kill, but they do not enjoy it. And if they do, they certainly should not write about it. That will destroy the myth along with many other things that make SEALs special.
It is due to accounts like these that the amount of people who hate the US is constantly on the rise. Although the author uses the term "silent professionals" several times in his book, he does not come across as one. Self reflection is a must. It is certainly not his forte.
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on March 10, 2015
Tried to finish it but couldn't. Hard to read. Short sentences. Porn. Video games. Swearing. Turned his back on his wife and babies to be with his chums. Just had enough after half through. Maybe the movie is better?
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on July 20, 2013
I had read reviews of this book and it seemed like something that I would enjoy reading. Being a Viet Nam "participant" I had read other sniper books and was particularly impressed with Carlos Hathcock. From page 1 all the way to the conclusion of "American Sniper", this book is not about accomplishments, about incidents in war - basically not about much of anything other than the author explaining in great detail why he was in love with himself and why the reader should recognize him as an all time hero. The entire book is a story of a man with an ego the size of the sun, practically bragging that his entire life was a me-me-me existance. He married, he had children, he had many opportunities to take advantage of prior service and spend much more time with his family. But, at his own admission (more than once in the book), he turned his back on his family because he wanted to return to war where he felt more comfortable and more where "he" wanted to be. To read this book is a process of "discovery" into the mind and thinking of a selfish childish man, a narcissistic mess who comes off as being proud of it and expecting admiration. This book made me angry and feeling deeply sorry for his family. And his legacy is that he dusted more ragheads than anybody else. Pretty lame reason to be remembered.
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on April 23, 2015
It is probably not a popular thing to do, but I did not care for the narrative . I know he risked his life and that was his choice to go to the conflict. He came across as a killer that found more satisfaction killing than taking care of his wife and kids
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on April 1, 2015
Simply a book about someone with a giant ego who gets a thrill out of shooting people in the war and animals when hunting. Nothing of substance in this book.
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