Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
In May of 2002, Pat Tillman quit the National Football League in order to join the army, propelled to service by the war in Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11th. On April 24th, 2004, Tillman was killed by members of his own squad in a friendly fire incident that was subsequently covered up over and over again, with his allegedly heroic-in-the-face-of-enemy-fire death used for political gain by the administration.
As always, Krakauer crafts his narrative masterfully. He began and ended with the day of Pat’s death, weaving that thread together with Pat’s life from about high school onward, as well as a political history of Afghanistan and the events that led to 9/11. Speaking of which, did you realize that the US didn’t just give the Mujahideen weapons to fight their war against the Soviets, they actually funneled weapons to the war lords in order to provoke war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union? Yeah, that really made me very angry.
Although Krakauer is up to his usual standards, this was not my favorite of his books. I listened to the audio and, although the narrator was fantastic, I found myself completely tuning out whenever the topic turned to football (not a huge part of the narrative) or war and battle (a much larger part of the story). I really appreciated many of the things I learned about the lead up to war as well as the early days of the war in Afghanistan. Did you know that Jessica Lynch didn’t go down fighting? Or that her captors actually tried to return her before her much-vaunted rescue? No, neither did I. However, I had mixed feelings about Tillman. He seemed by turns to be a complete ass and a pretty good guy. He beat another teenager pretty badly while in high school and tried to tell a fellow ranger that his faith in God was meaningless as they were pinned down in the firefight that eventually killed Tillman (really, now, HOW is that helpful?).
If you’re interested in football and/or the war in Afghanistan, or in Tillman’s story particularly I think this would be a spectacular choice for you to read, either in print or listening to the audio. If you’re a fan of Krakauer, I would recommend picking this up at some point as it is well done as usual, but if you aren’t really interested in the subject matter you probably don’t need to rush out and get it right away.