- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 30, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316219347
- ISBN-13: 978-0316219341
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 875 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Yellow Birds: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2013
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"The All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab wars."―Tom Wolfe
"The Yellow Birds is harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary."―Ann Patchett
"A remarkable first novel...The Yellow Birds is brilliantly observed and deeply affecting: at once a freshly imagined bildungsroman about a soldier's coming of age, a harrowing story about the friendship of two young men trying to stay alive on the battlefield in Iraq, and a philosophical parable about the loss of innocence and the uses of memory...Extraordinary."―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"This is a novel I've been waiting for. The Yellow Birds is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence."―Alice Sebold
"Kevin Powers' The Yellow Birds is written with an intensity which is deeply compelling; every moment, every memory, every object, every move, are conjured up with a fierce and exact concentration and sense of truth."―Colm Toibin
"Compelling, brilliantly written, and heart-breakingly true, The Yellow Birds belongs in the same category as Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come."―Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust
"A novel about the poetry and the pity of war...Powers writes with a rawness that brings the sights and smells as well as the trauma and decay of war home to the reader."―Kirkus
"Reading The Yellow Birds I became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard....a superb literary achievement."―Chris Cleave
"Kevin Powers has delivered an exceptional novel from the war in Iraq, written in clean, evocative prose, lyric and graphic, in assured rhythms, a story for today and tomorrow and the next."―Daniel Woodrell
"Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service. This book will endure. Read it and then put it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien."―Anthony Swofford
About the Author
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This novel of The Iraq War echoes the stories from the War in Vietnam Nam that were told in books and movies after that sad war. That noise echos, resonates, speaks in our head, but this is a new generation. A different war.
It asks Are people the same? Is war the same? Is how we deal the same? The author explore the effects on soldiers, nurses, medics and of those left at home waiting. He even touches on the harshness of life for the people whose home is now a war-ground. He speaks with an honesty that only those who have been there can know. While we are thanking-for-the-service, maybe it hurts that we don’t acknowledge returning soldiers’ pain over what they experienced. What is our responsibility?
I feel Faulkner as I read this book; located in the narrative yet a bit disoriented while it works it’s way along the road, clear in the end. The state of mind of characters is embedded in the words.
What mental gymnastics do we employ to deal with broken heartedness? Art speaks honestly and we draw our own conclusions.
Some might compare it to other war-themed books: The Naked and the Dead, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Things They Carried, or even A Separate Peace. They would, in my opinion, be misguided.
This is not the quintessential book about the Iraqi War, even though the settings are mainly the battlefield of Iraq and "home", in this case, Richmond, Virginia. Rather, it is a book about all wars and all situations that force us to live with becoming less than human.
What happens, Kevin Powers postulates, when youngsters - barely out of their teens - must go against everything they've been taught as moral? Is there "any making up for killing women or even watching women get killed, or for that matter killing men and shooting them in the back and shooting them more times than necessary to kill everything you saw sometimes because it felt like there was acid seeping down into your soul and then your soul is gone..."
This is a book about those who became unaware "of even our own savagery now: the beatings and the kicked dogs, the searches and the sheer brutality of our presence." It is about the promise that one boy - John Bartle -- makes to another boy's mother that he cannot possibly keep. It is about someone who cannot return to the ordinary despite his most fervent wishes: "If I could not forget, then I'd hope to be forgotten."
And most of all, it's about young men who should be in the height of life who are forced to be on intimate knowledge with death: "It seems absurd now that we saw each death as an affirmation of our lives. That each one of those deaths belonged to a time and that therefore that time was not ours. We didn't know the list was limitless."
None of the quotes I used reflect the pure elegiac beauty of the prose, beginning with the first line: `The war tried to kill us in the spring." The war could be any war or anything that creates detachment and devalues human life. "The world makes liars of us all," Kevin Powers writes at one point. Yet in this magnificent prose, the truth shines through.
Read this book. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real. It is subtle as the human mind, and powerful as the human spirit. It affects warriors and their loved ones, including ancestors and descendants. If a man or woman ever fully recovers from it, their children and grandchildren must still deal with its aftereffects.
Kevin Powers brings poetry and grace to his novel of horror in Iraq. He has found a measure of hope, for the writing itself is a healing, hopeful gesture. But he is no romantic. There is nothing beautiful about war, and not much good can be expected of it.
I have already recommended this book to several Veterans of my acquaintance and will recommend it to anyone who has suffered the trauma of war and wonders what hit them. To those who have been there, and to their children to the third and fourth generation.
Most recent customer reviews
His storytelling of his military time there is extraordinary.Read more