*Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer (2009)

Krakauer’s latest book–Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman–is partially a story of Pat Tillman and partially a story of the war in Afghanistan and partially a story of heroes.  Krakauer exhaustively researched each aspect of the story: Tillman’s childhood, football career, love life, family values, and his character, as well as Afghanistan’s history, its political and social problems, the US involvement there, including Bush and Rumsfeld’s strategy (or lack thereof) and bumbling decisions on the part of military superiors and government officials. So it’s more than just a story of a pro football player who gives up a multi-million dollar contract to be a patriot and fight terrorism which is the story that most people are familiar with.  It’s much more complex than that.  Krakauer exposes much of the controversy behind the war as well as the controversy behind Tillman’s death by friendly fire and the propaganda surrounding his enlistment and his death.  Not surprisingly, nothing positive comes from Krakauer’s investigation, except Tillman’s commitment to help his country.  The book gets a bit bogged down in detail at times, but overall, it’s an interesting and exhaustive look into a country we know little about–not a bad way to learn about Afghanistan and the war, albeit from Krakauer’s liberal perspective (with which I happen to agree).  For history buffs, the analogy between Tillman and the Greek hero Achilles is an interesting aspect of the story.  Lots of parallels to the ancient Greeks, the hero and warrior culture, and tragic flaws that often lead to their demise. (nonfiction)

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