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714 of 894 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Great...Not Terrible..., January 7, 2012
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This review is from: American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (Hardcover)
Very broad stroke tale of Chris Kyle's career as a SEAL. Broad in the sense that there is very little detail on actual shots taken/contact with enemies (where he actually engaged targets in his capacity as a sniper).

I was initially going to review the book after having read the first 30% of it which left me a bit disappointed but I decided to give it a chance, and finished it before re-writing my entire review. I fully agree with some of the previous reviews that the writing could have been better and I have to admit that I actually started wanting to skip all the passages written by Chris's wife (Taya) entirely. It does give a bit of perspective on their private life but as a shooter I was more interested in Chris's actual accounts.

I found it very interesting (and initially a bit brazen) how Chris starts his book exactly the same way Carlos Hatchcock* did with his autobiography referencing having had to kill a woman the same way Carlos started his book having had to kill a boy. Later in the book Chris pays homage to Carlos so the similarity became understandable.

* Carlos Hathcock - technically the best sniper ever to have walked the earth and probably the best written Sniper autobiography to date)

Comparing the countless records on fighting in wars like Vietnam compared to modern day warfare in places like Iraq you cant seem to shake the feeling that the enemy guys like Chris face there just aren't cut from the same cloth. The Vietcong were a very formidable enemy, living the war and being excellent at guerilla warfare, tracking, planning and even having some superb snipers in their ranks. Reading Chris talk about his enemy using beachballs to cross a river in order to reach American positions (which he promptly shot resulting in them drowning), the enemy mostly being completely jacked up on heroin, being stupid and having NO clue how to actually fight (pot shots and stupid fighting) and talking about picking off enemy soldiers on a nightly basis (sometimes up to 3 a night) really gives the impression that its much easier to rake up a high kill tally than it was in past wars. Chris goes on to admit how much he admires Carlos Hathcock and that he admits he is not even in the same league saying that he got as many kills as he did because he was lucky in mostly being where the action was. Therefore reading about some of the kills leaves you feeling less than 'impressed'. That being said, what Chris has achieved and what he did for his country is nothing short of heroic and respectable.

Chris does go on to discuss some of the street fights (clearing building to building) he was involved in out of his own choice after swapping his rifle for a Marines m-16 in order to fight along side them as he felt he could be of more use to the marines he was assisting on the ground than he could be as over-watch (a large number of his kills were CQ kills), which is also highly respectable.

So...

- If you are interested in the technical side of being a Sniper and actual details on shots taken, there are better books (for a start Carlos Hathcock's autobiography, A 100% flawless must read!)

- If you're interest is purely in details of SEAL operations and their involvement in recent wars (Iraq) then this book will probably disappoint as it lacks detail. It is however very interesting to see how much the role of the modern day SEAL has changed (where and how they are deployed and how they operate as part of joint force missions with other branches of the US military).

- If you want to read about Chris Kyle for the sake of learning about him as a person, where he came from and a quick run-down on his kill record (with no detail on separate kills as they tend to be summed up as "...that day I killed 3..." then this book will probably be of interest.

All in all a good-ish book...couldn't say its $13 I'd spend again for the Kindle version, but not regretting having read it.
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Comments

Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 21-30 of 43 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 11:40:11 AM PDT
Sounds to me like he DID read the whole book then post a review afterward. He stated that he was disappointed enough at the 30% mark to consider reviewing it. That tells me maybe it was a read that he wasn't expecting or didn't really motivate him. More power to him for actually reading through the whole thing, but the fact that he almost stopped tells me that I'm not going to like the book. That's not to say that I'm not respectful of a fellow soldier's duty as a sniper. He gets kudos but I never thanked anyone for doing something they were supposed to do in the first place (and never said thanks for achieving medals and ribbons in my career...you just accept and move on). Now if he saved my life, maybe I'd think different. I've read Carlos' autobiography. It was excellent and I never considered putting it down until I fully finished reading it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2012 3:29:49 AM PDT
Thanks for the reply to that comment, you summed it up perfectly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 4:49:45 PM PDT
AI6PG says:
It's too bad the Carlos Hathcock's autobiography is out of print. I event tried to find it on Alibris. Wish they would put it back in print.

Posted on Aug 12, 2012 5:51:32 PM PDT
I appreciate everything you've said. I read the Carlos Hathcock book and it was a great read... I laughed when I read your thoughts about the glaring differences in the enemies Carlos faced vs Chris. That is so true! Thanks for the review. You saved me the cost of having to read it for myself.

Posted on Aug 16, 2012 6:32:41 PM PDT
I quit after 30% too. Your review is enough for me not finish it. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 12:34:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2012 12:36:26 PM PDT
BRILLIANT?
Hardly. VERY poorly written, hard to follow, short one-paragraph bits of thoughts, poorly organised.

Hats off to Chris! . . . but VERY poorly written

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 12:34:05 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 10, 2012 12:35:44 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2012 12:35:07 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 10, 2012 12:36:09 PM PDT]

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 12:14:38 PM PST
As a humble ex-grunt; a poor, bloody combat pioneer; let me just say this about the exalted US Navy SEALS (sniper or other): If I see one more self-serving, grand-standing book about Seals - buttressed by their relentless, 24/7 PR machine ... I'll puke.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 5:28:43 PM PST
This book could have been written by anyone. Nothing new here except a few personal observations. No new info on training. Precious few combat accounts. Plenty of "I missed my wife". I want my nine dollars and two hours back.

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