Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: American Sniper

Chris Kyle has 255 kills in his career as a sniper for the Navy Seals making him the deadliest sniper in American history (though not all of history as that mark stands with Finish WWII sniper Simo Haya with 542 Russian soldiers killed).

Kyle's recount of his personal history and focus on his time in Iraq where he was shot twice and involved in six separate IED explosions while earning two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars is not a pretty one.  Nor is the book going to win any awards for its prose.  It is however, a brutally honest portrayal of a flawed man who excels at his job.

Kyle cares deeply for his own people and his brothers in arms while being necessarily dismissive of those he kills.  To be able to maintain your sanity (such as it is) in a job where you are tasked with killing multiple hundreds of people in as up front and personal way as sniping, you must be able to rationalize your actions.  Watching women hide grenades under their dresses and kids used as human shields makes his actions easy to understand.  Though sometimes seeming heartless in his dispatch of one life after another, those opposing Kyle are perhaps even more so.  There are no innocents in the game of war and Kyle would certainly not claim to be above fault.

What you come away with from this account is a respect for the job that Kyle did in protecting himself and his comrades in the service of his country.  He performed at an extremely high level of proficiency not seen before in American conflict at a great cost to himself and his family.  His willingness to go in harms way knows virtually no equal and there are likely hundreds of American soldiers who returned safely to their families because of his actions.  And that is likely the only reward he would ask for.  Oh...that and punching out Jesse Ventura when the fat, non-Navy Seal began spouting off in a bar...Well done Mr. Kyle, well done.

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