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Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman Hardcover – April 29, 2008
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
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It's also a meticulous account of the family's investigation into Tillman's wrongful death, which occurred because of his superiors' incompetence, and then was the subject of a massive cover-up. These are not just conjectures by Mary Tillman. She obtained and plodded through thousands of documents over several years, and you can see the official version of events changing day by day.
How does the Army behave when one of its screw-ups threatens to become public? It's not a pretty picture. The Army's conduct surrounding this case, with the exception of a few individuals, was a disgrace. But we need to know about it. (My husband is a combat veteran and although he's proud of his service and has no regrets about it, he was completely unsurprised by the ass-covering that's reported in the film. He hasn't read the book yet.)
Incidentally, I considered Sebastian Junger's book, but it received such uneven reviews that I decided to skip it. This, for now, is the essential book on the Tillman case. I also recommend the movie, which made the book that much more vivid for me.
P.S. The blurb provided above by "Publishers Weekly" is quite simply the most idiotic thing I've ever seen out of that publication, and I hope it will be ignored by all.