Review: American Sniper
Nonfiction! What is this black magic? You all must be thinking that I’m a pretty contradictory person. I don’t read books about dragons. I love James Maxey’s GREATSHADOW (EBR Review). I don’t read anthologies. I love ARMORED edited by John Joseph Adams (EBR Review). Now I’m going to tell you that I don’t read nonfiction. Ever. But it turns out that I really liked AMERICAN SNIPER (Amazon), written by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. An autobiography about a Navy SEAL? Well if you’re going to read nonfiction you might as well read the most exciting nonfiction available.
Chris Kyle served as a Navy SEAL during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Kyle and his platoon were part of some of the thickest fighting the US Armed Forces were involved in, from pacifying Fallujah to cleaning out Sadr City. AMERICAN SNIPER is an unapologetic, patriotic, and personal look at the conflict in the Middle East from the perspective of a special forces sniper.
AMERICAN SNIPER begins with Kyle’s first sniper kill and then follows his path from childhood all the way through his enlistment until he leaves the Navy in 2009. Reading about the way Kyle grew up and the life he led before becoming a SEAL really gives insight into what sort of person it takes to be a special forces operator. Kyle is a legitimate cowboy, a Texan, and a “good ol’ boy”. He’s the sort of guy that you would really like to buy a beer and it shows through his writing. The autobiography is broken up into chapters with sub-chapters, making for quick easy reading and the tone of the narrative is so laid back that it’s really more like having a conversation than reading.
The personal bits are all very compelling. Kyle’s wife Taya even writes small excerpts here and there that add an even more delicate touch. The parts written from Taya’s perspective are often about the toll Kyle’s enlistment and service took on the family. These parts serve as a reminder that SEALs aren’t just warriors. They are sons and brothers and fathers and husbands as well. But enough about the touchy-feely stuff.
The legend of Chris Kyle is really what makes this book a must read. During his service, Kyle wracked up 160 confirmed sniper kills. This is just the confirmed kills, but the number claimed is actually 255. Kyle doesn’t once brag about his tally, in fact he is completely humble about his whole experience as a SEAL. Kyle fought in Iraq, not for any medals, but to protect his country. Kyle doesn’t regret any of his kills and he refuses to make apologies for what he has done. Some people are likely to be offended by the candid nature of the autobiography, but I doubt many of these people are likely to buy a book about snipers in the Iraq War to begin with.
AMERICAN SNIPER is a great read. If you are curious about Navy SEALs and the way their operations have changed with the emergence of the War on Terror this is the book for you. This is a very personal story with no shortage of action, humor, mourning, and hope. If you have a problem with patriotism you should skip this one, but I found it to be a fun time.
Here’s a thanks to all who serve in America’s Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice.
- Recommended Age: 16+
- Language: Chris Kyle cusses like the cowboy he is, but he doesn't overdo it. Still, be warned.
- Violence: Yes, sometimes morbid but never gruesome
- Sex: None