Thanks for your review.
There are a number of things about this book that I find fundamentally lacking, starting with this:
"This is a superb, moving and insightful book about war and its effects on the men and women who take part in it."
This kind of perspective on war makes it sound like a football match. The players participate. And, we watch.
Those who bear the brunt of war are women and children, who likely really had no say about going to war, and if they did support going to war, did so with little or no understanding of what they were doing.
I've read the excerpt offered by Amazon, read the review in the NYTimes, and am underwhelmed for the reason cited above.
I'm no fan of O'Brien's work and did get a sense of it from the excerpt.
But allow me to take you to task for, like others, dragging All Quiet on the Western Front into this. AQWF is a profound book about war that is withstanding the test of time because it understands that soldiers are the least of war.
It seems to me that Yellow Birds is not up to comparison with AQWF for the simple reason that it fails to even ask the question, "why should a German tinker want to shoot a French baker?" This is the question that AQWF asks and that any book about war must at least ask, and hopefully try to answer, at least in my eye. I say try because 48 years after reading AQWF I have yet to come across an answer to that question, leading me to believe that there is no answer.