From Publishers Weekly
Tillman, the mother of the late professional football player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, and former journalist Zacchino collaborate for this disturbing story of a mother's desperate search for the truth of her son's death. Pat Tillman constantly defied expectations; following 9/11, he shocked his family and football fans everywhere when he quit the NFL and joined the army rangers. On April 21, 2004, while on a combat mission in Afghanistan, Pat was killed in a firefight. Although commanders knew almost immediately that friendly fire was the likely cause of his death, the family wasn't told for weeks. Her suspicions aroused, his mother demanded answers, and the more she learned about the army's inept handling of her son's death, the more she was convinced that there was a conspiracy. Bereft, besieged by suspicions that the administration orchestrated [Pat's] death, Tillman recounts her story bravely, but her obsession with fixing blame and her recourse to conspiracy theories compromises her credibility. The result is a troubling, uneven account that raises serious questions, but offers little in the way of insights or answers. (May)
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Reminiscent of the 1979 TV movie Friendly Fire (in which a woman tries to find out how her son, a soldier in Vietnam, died at the hands of his own comrades), this gripping real-life account chronicles Mary Tillman’s attempts to get a straight answer about the death of her son, Pat, in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman, who put on hold a career as a pro football player and enlisted in the army, was shot to death during a mission that was (to judge by the evidence presented here) poorly planned and disastrously executed. Although it seems clear that Tillman was killed by American soldiers—shot in the legs and then three times in the head—by men who surely should have known they were killing one of their own, the exact circumstances seem deliberately obscure. The army kept giving Tillman’s family a new version of the story of his death, often contradicting previous versions but never answering any of their questions. The book, which superimposes Mary’s search for the truth over memories of her son’s life, is both emotional and frustrating. We, like Mary Tillman, feel angry and bewildered over the government’s apparent lack of interest in providing her with a simple explanation for her son’s death. This story has made headlines for the last several years, and while there are no final answers here, those who have followed the controversy will be eager to hear from Tillman’s mother. --David Pitt