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Book Review – "Where Men Win Glory" by Jon Krakauer
Best-selling author John Krakauer, best known for his non-fiction and biographical writing, has written a new book that tackles one of the toughest issues in the world today. His main subject in his new book “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” is the rise and fall of NFL star Pat Tillman. However, there is much more to the book than a fantastic biography. The author talks in depth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the life of a soldier from start to finish, and world politics over the last 30 years or so. Krakauer obviously did his homework in writing this book, the result is not a fictionalized account of an exceptional individual.
Pat Tillman was a very active young boy growing up in California with his brother Kevin. Both were athletic and aggressive and always played outside. Kevin eventually began playing minor league baseball which never amounted to much, while Pat had a stellar football career in college and the pros. Tillman played football at Arizona State University where he gained much attention as an undersized but extremely aggressive defender. Eventually, his fearless attitude and reckless demeanor on the field caught the attention of NFL scouts, and he joined the Arizona Cardinals after his senior year. No one expected him to make the team due to his short stature.
Tillman showed up big in training camp, starting some practice games at safety, and eventually earning a spot in the starting defensive lineup. Each year he seemed to get better as he hit running backs and receivers with everything he had and earned recognition as one of the best safeties in the NFL. Although he continued to excel in the NFL and work hard, there were other issues going on in the world that weighed heavily on Pat’s mind. In particular, the United States had just gone to war with Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, and the United States was very upset and angry with the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Tillman was so impressed by the attacks on American soil and the decision to hunt down the Taliban that he decided to leave his illustrious NFL career to join the Army Rangers. Pat was about to get a big raise in the NFL and had just married his wife, but he had a burning desire to do what was right and that was to go overseas and fight for his country. Also, he wasn’t going alone. Pat recruited his brother Kevin to join him. Kevin easily gave up his minor league baseball career and joined the same Army Ranger class as his brother, allowing them to serve together their entire time in the military.
Pat and Kevin didn’t expect the military when they left their family and friends back in California to fight for their country. What they found was a bunch of immature, troubled kids who had no other options in life than to join the army so they could earn a paycheck. The Tillman brothers, along with some other older gentlemen in their class, were constantly telling the young men to be quiet and act their age. Although they are always irritated by the immaturity around them, they always consider the possibility of going into battle and learn what it is like to fight for your own life while trying to take someone else’s life from them. This idea really excited Pat and Kevin and kept them going the entire time. Also, Pat knew that his loving wife was waiting for him at home and Pat wrote in his journal every night how he missed his wife and her undying love for him. Pat wanted nothing more than to return home to her and live the life he hadn’t left behind.
One of Krakauer’s main points in this book is how governments use military information and manipulate it for their own benefit. For example, Krakauer talks in depth about the Jessica Lynch case in Iraq. Lynch was stuck in an Iraqi hospital fighting for her life and tortured by Iraqi forces, but that was not the case at all. The idea of Lynch fighting for her life was concocted by a high-ranking government official under direct orders from George Bush. If Bush and his officials can use Lynch to their advantage and make her look like an admirable American who somehow survived the worst possible situation, the morale of the rest of the American people will increase and support the war and the Bush administration.
Krakauer uses the example of Jessica Lynch as a building block to Pat Tillman’s death. Pat and his brother Kevin were driving a convoy of military vehicles in a hostile area of Afghanistan when one of their Humvees broke down and needed a tow truck. Army policy is that a military vehicle can never be left behind where the enemy has captured it, so the men had to sit down and figure out how to get the vehicle out of enemy territory. Eventually, Pat’s group commanders demanded that the group split into two smaller groups, leaving them both unprotected, so the truck could be brought onto the main road and a small town nearby could also be cleared of Taliban fighters after sunset. Everyone in Pat’s group thought it was a bad idea, but they had to carry on because they couldn’t disobey the orders of those who ranked higher than them.
The decision to break up the group quickly turned out to be unfortunate. Pat’s group was fired upon by Taliban forces from the high ground, causing pure chaos among the young and inexperienced group of Rangers. The Rangers mostly left their vehicles as taught in training, and Tillman and another soldier ran to higher ground to get a better angle on the action. Radio communication was non-existent as everyone tried to talk and shout at the same time. Many soldiers started firing blindly upwards and were said to be “trigger-happy”. One of the young men in charge of an automatic gun mounted on a vehicle started firing upwards towards Pat causing him to panic and wave his arms. What happened next is one of the most controversial events of the war with Afghanistan and remains a mystery to this day.
Pat Tillman and his fellow ranger were hiding on the hilltop behind a small boulder, waving their arms frantically for the other rangers to stop firing on them, when Tillman was hit three times in the head above the eyebrows. No doubt he died instantly and all the rangers had to do was decide what to do with his body. They decide not to tell his brother Kevin and leave him in the dark for bringing down the mysterious body from the mountaintop well in Kevin’s eyes. Kevin and the rest of Pat’s family learned much later that Pat died in friendly fire. Needless to say, Pat’s family was beyond furious. Not only was he killed in friendly fire, he was not treated according to standard military protocol. His clothes were burned before his autopsy to hide the evidence, and his autopsy was never performed due to mysterious clues cited and disagreed with by the medical examiner. Despite all the mistreatment of Pat Tillman, an American hero, Bush and his fellow administrators had a great opportunity to make another great example of Pat Tillman, like Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
Tillman’s funeral and burial were shown on every major news station, even ESPN. Friendly Fire did not mention or explain anything about his mistreatment and death, which led to Tillman’s death among Americans at the hands of a Taliban fighter. They were being investigated by the military and monitored by the Tillman family, but high-ranking military officials lied to everyone so they could save their jobs and reputations. The troopers responsible for actually killing Pat said they were just doing their jobs and never said they’d be a little trigger-happy. Worse, most of these soldiers and commanders who lied were more or less reprimanded by the Army Rangers, barring possible demotion to the general army. Pat’s mother and brother have continued to press the military for answers and admit wrongdoing over the years, but no one in the military has taken much responsibility.
Pat Tillman will go down in history as a model American. There are not many people in this world who would sacrifice three million dollars to fight for their lives in a country like Afghanistan. Not only did Pat leave behind money, but he also left behind precious time with his beloved wife, friends and family. Now instead of remembering him as the brave soldier, amazing footballer, good friend and loving husband, they must also bear with the fact that he is still alive and a big gray cloud shadows his last days. of his life. Krakauer does an excellent job of portraying Pat Tillman as a legend of his time, but also as a man. His insights into Tillman’s private life, his personal journals, and the recollections of Pat’s friends and family provide an accurate picture of how Pat Tillman lived his life. This book, while long, is rated an easy 5 out of 5.
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