Sunday, December 6, 2009

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer: A Book Review...

Yup, its getting to be winter time and combine that with actual time available to me at lunch to sit down and read, well, I'm getting through a number of books lately.

This one I picked out of my own accord due to my enjoyment of Krakauer's previous works (Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, Eiger Dreams, and Under the Banner of Heaven). While Krakauer's most recent work to this (UTBOH) was the weakest of all his prior works (an encyclopedic history of the Morman religion but without a compelling storyline to tie the book together) I was sufficiently enthralled by his early works to eagerly anticipate this read.

Unfortunately, the farther Krakauer gets away from his true calling and expertise (climbing, outdoors, adventure) the worse his works get.

I will say that I learned a SINGLE new item about Pat Tillman in this book. Tillman was killed by a fellow U.S. soldier and by a SAW (squad automatic weapon) that uses the same caliber rounds that a standard M16 or M4 does. If anything, I hope, that this book does SOMETHING to dispell any conspiracy theories about Tillman's death that remain out there.

Cause sure as hell, it doesn't enlighten much else...

It covers the boilerplate Tillman background—scrappy guy from middleclass family who succeeded as an underdog in a brutally competitive sport who gives up a wealthy and famous career to enlist in the Army shortly after 9/11. The book does go a bit more into Tillman's high school and college career but gives extremely short shrift to his time in Ranger school. Additionally, Krakauer spends scores of pages going over the Jessica Lynch incident and another friendly fire incident in which an A-10 fired on a number of soldiers during the Second Iraq War in order to show that the military is consistently responsible for covering up or intentially miss-reporting incidents in order to portray itself in a more favorable light.

Tell me something I don't know Jon...

To imply that the Bush administration is the only one to have perverted battlefield facts to serve its own end (which is what Krakauer does, regardless of whether he states it directly or not) is juvenile (Bay of Pigs Jon? or perhaps the targeting of a milk factory in Sudan and empty training camps in Afghanistan?—which he does mention but fails to mention the Clinton administration's false claims of a vital blow to Al Queda) and is one of numerous incidents throughout the book where Krakauer uses his pen to target Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney et al. for what appears to be some sort of personal vendetta.

Sorry Jon, but that ship has sailed. Bush and crew are now gone and have been attacked ad nauseum for some time. You are not bringing anything new to the table here and only rehashing the left's continued attacks (in some cases not unwarranted but hardly new and not worthy of $20+ of my money). What's more is that these personal attacks get in the way of any kind of information that Krakauer might have gleaned from his years and years (supposedly) of research into Tillman as a person.

Tillman is an incredibly varied and interesting person containing numerous contradictions and valued characteristics—not the least of which were his desires for truth, justice, honor and fidelity. He would turn in his grave to know that he was used by the Right as a propoganda piece for their agenda and would turn over again as he is now used by the Left as a propoganda tool for theirs.

He deserves better. Someday he might get it. Just not today.

1 comment:

RC Miller said...

I've not read this book but regardless found your review to be excellent and refreshingly objective. I agree that it is always absurd when authors, filmmakers, artists, etc. exploit a deceased person in order to procure their own political agenda. You'll have to let me borrow your copy sometime.