American Sniper: The Auto-Biography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (Chris Kyle)

I am glad to have read this book right before this most recent election, which seems to have the entire country at each other’s throats. This autobiography serves as an explicit reminder of those Americans who are fighting overseas, what they are fighting for, and why it is important.

Kyle’s informal writing style moves this book along quickly, creating the illusion that you are conversing with an average American, not an experienced and seasoned academic writer. This enhances the overall feel of the novel, making it accessible to anyone who decides to read it. Kyle continually refers to himself as a regular kid from Texas, attempting to remain modest throughout the tales of his military successes overseas.

As it features a Navy Seal operating in Iraq, this autobiography frequently tests the boundaries of political correctness. Many who have reflected on the book before me have found this to be a real negative aspect of it, but I feel as though criticizing the book in this way speaks to a misunderstanding of the author’s experiences and viewpoints. It is very easy for the average book critic to comment on Kyle’s insensitivity towards the Iraqi people and radical Islamic extremists, but this attitude seems remarkably naive. While Kyle does his best to place his readers in the shoes of the American soldiers fighting in Iraq, how could you possibly relate to this experience without being there yourself?

The history nerd in me loved the play-by-play explanations that Kyle provided of different operations and battles throughout the war. I loved reading about the different stages of the Iraqi war and the ways that different military units operated, both together and independently. It is fascinating to read Kyle’s firsthand account of such things, as you do not get this often enough in the media or in much of the existing material on the War in Iraq.

Of course, Taya’s excerpts help reveal the incredible strain that military life can have on a family. Her frustrations at raising her kids alone and feeling as though Chris could never love her or their family as much as war are both depressing and thought-provoking. In a lot of ways, military families give up their sense of normalcy as one spouse continues to serve in the armed forces. Chris’ difficulty returning to an average lifestyle when on leave is indicative of the further complications that military families must face. Chris’ eventual decision to return home and take on his role as a father was a happy ending to this marital conflict, but it seems as though not all families are so lucky.

This book is a beacon of patriotism and inspires its readers to take a step back and appreciate those who are fighting for our country. Kyle mentions a few times that he is not fighting in Iraq for any reason except that he is loyal to his country and this is where his country has sent him to fight. This seems to be a direct comment to those who protest the soldiers fighting our wars, which unfortunately does happen around the country. Kyle also takes extreme acts of protests, such as burning a flag, as a direct insult and disrespect to himself and other American soldiers. I wish I could encourage all American protesters to think about this before acting in such a way, and remember who, and what, they are disrespecting when they do such things. Where we would be without our military?