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Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman Hardcover – September 15, 2009
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The bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven delivers a stunning, eloquent account of a remarkable young man’s haunting journey.
Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan.
Though obvious to most of the two dozen soldiers on the scene that a ranger in Tillman’s own platoon had fired the fatal shots, the Army aggressively maneuvered to keep this information from Tillman’s wife, other family members, and the American public for five weeks following his death. During this time, President Bush repeatedly invoked Tillman’s name to promote his administration’s foreign policy. Long after Tillman’s nationally televised memorial service, the Army grudgingly notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire while it continued to dissemble about the details of his death and who was responsible.
In Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to render an intricate mosaic of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death. Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell” —and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers.
Krakauer chronicles Tillman’s riveting, tragic odyssey in engrossing detail highlighting his remarkable character and personality while closely examining the murky, heartbreaking circumstances of his death. Infused with the power and authenticity readers have come to expect from Krakauer’s storytelling, Where Men Win Glory exposes shattering truths about men and war.
Amazon Exclusive: Jon Krakauer in Afghanistan
(Photo © Dennis Knowles)
(Photo © Eric Hayesy)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
More About the Author
Photos documenting Krakauer's books and non-writing life can be viewed on his personal Instagram account: https://instagram.com/krakauernotwriting/
Top Customer Reviews
Krakauer does a great job in the beginning of the book by contrasting the carefree life of an American boy growing up in the suburbs vs. groups of boys being groomed by the Taliban to become terrorists. His description of Pat Tillman's early life gives insight into how he came to make the decisions that ultimately resulted in his joining the Army.
Some of the detail in the middle of the book got a bit cumbersome. However, it was a useful primer on some of the things that went terribly wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan during Tillman's time there, and I'm not certain that Krakauer could have told the rest of the story without the level of detail provided.
Nonetheless, the author provides a refreshingly honest look at a man who at times I found rather unlikeable, frankly. Without question however, the picture of Tillman that emerges is one of a man who cannot be categorized easily. His complexity was well illuminated in the book, which was a far more honest and respectful portrayal of his life than if he were simply portrayed as the `good' character in a morality play.
This book does not paint a rosy, cozy picture of the US government's actions, of the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan, or, it must be said, of Pat Tillman himself. But that served to make both the book and the man more interesting.
First, Krakauer isn't just writing about Pat Tillman. He's also writing about Afghanistan. To suggest that Tillman's story could be told in a simpler fashion is merely stating the obvious.
Second, Afghanistan is a complex story. To tell it honestly requires exploring details that might not excite a reader looking for action and adventure. War isn't always what you see in the movies.
Third, Tillman's story would not be complete without addressing the political fallout of his death. Does Krakauer express opinions on these topics? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean he approached the subject with a political agenda.
If anything, Krakauer is attacking the political forces that would seek to use Tillman's life to advance their own agenda -- something that Tillman himself would have done if he were alive to do so. It's disingenuous to criticize somebody's writing simply because you disagree with the political truth that the author is exposing.
This is a complex book handled deftly by a strong, even-handed storyteller. I highly recommend it.
Krakauer takes up the Tillman story with a view to what made the NFL Safety turned Ranger tick. In some reviews, including Dexter Filkins' NYT review, the fact that it takes Krakauer more than 150 pages to get Tillman's boots into the Afghan sand is to the book's detriment. In my opinion, Krakauer's aim - if not the book itself -is better served by the time he takes in exploring Tillman's motives.
Those looking for either a behind-the-lines military tome with some added star power, or a pot-boiler about government and military propaganda and corruption, should look elsewhere. Instead, Krakauer spends most of his effort on trying to wrestle with a very common conflict in the hearts, souls and minds of many post-9/11 military volunteers. While visions of the towers tumbling compelled Tillman instictively to look for some way to help, he also couldn't help but retain the healthy skepticism of his government that had him concerned - in Krakauer's telling - that should he die on the battlefield, he might be used for propaganda purposes.
That conflict is a defining element of the all-volunteer force that is fighting these wars. So many of the men and women I served with loved their country, but joined to defend their families as much as to fight for their government. That might not be a logical or well-informed course of action - but, for many, like Tillman, it was an instinctive one.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book describes the manipulation of the media by the Army for the George W Bush regime. The WMD story by Colin Powell, the Jessica Lynch story, and the Pat Tillman story are... Read morePublished 16 hours ago by Amazon Customer
This book was a amazing tale of a amazing man that had it set up from the beginning to rich and famous playing professional football but gave it all up to go serve his country and... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Long winded account of the life and tragically short military career of a great American patriot. Describes the base political propaganda that the death of Pat Tillman was... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Jess Tolfree
...and the convoluted screwed-up ways the we are to blame for the mess in the Middle East. It's hard to believe.Published 1 month ago by C. Mason
When the author keeps his focus of Tillman it is a great read. It's amazing insight into a man who sacrificed so much, which hardly happens in today's society. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bearcat3516
Patrick Tillman was one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. A superstar athlete on the football field who spurned the riches and fame of professional football, for... Read morePublished 1 month ago by McGrawfan12