American Sniper – Chris Kyle

I have just finished American Sniper by Chris Kyle which, unless you have been buried under a rock, you will know is the autobiography of Chris Kyle who is billed as ‘the most lethal sniper in US history’.  I haven’t seen the film so I can’t make comparison to that.  As always, I prefer to read the book first.

I have mixed feelings about the book.  It was an interesting read so I think I would recommend it from that point of view.  I felt like you got a really good insight into the person behind the hype of ‘the most lethal sniper in US history’ and that the story was well told.  The book also features passages told from Kyle’s wife Taya’s point of view.  I found these irritating at first but as the story went on I found that these added to the story.

However, I did feel that the story lacked depth and skimmed over some of the details.  You got the know the people and Kyle to a degree but it was like skimming the surface.  I appreciate that there was a lot to get through in the book but it was missing something (for me).  It was a fairly easy read but I took my time and savoured it.

I also wasn’t sure about Kyle’s attitude to ‘savages’ as he referred to the ‘bad guys’ in Iraq.  Again, I appreciate it was a war situation and I have never been involved in anything like that and don’t have experience of it, however, some of the terminology and blasé way he talks about killing people didn’t sit comfortably with me, nor did taking things from Iraqi apartments.  It just doesn’t feel right.

You do get a sense of Kyle’s loyalty to his men and his country and the conflict he had to contend with when he had to choose whether to re-enlist or be at home with his family.  You see from the passages written by his wife that she wanted him at home with their family.  On one hand I can understand this but on the other I’m not sure it’s right to make him, or anybody in that position choose.  You marry somebody and they are in a certain job then you accept it and run with it.  I don’t think you can change the rules later on because that forces your partner into a difficult choice and may breed resentment.

Kyle left the military in 2009 and moved back to Texas where, amongst other things, he helped troubled veterans.  In 2013 he and his companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at a shooting range.  Routh was convicted of their murders and is currently serving a life sentence.

This felt like such a senseless death to me and a waste of life.  Kyle was working to help others and he was killed doing it. Considering the various hairy situations in Iraq that he was in, this felt poignant.  Kyle had left the Seals and should have been safe but he wasn’t.  I feel for the wife and children that he left behind and for Chad Littlefield and his family.

Kyle’s death isn’t covered in the main story but there is reference to it in an extra section provided by Taya.

All in all, not a bad read at all.  It’d probably be a 6 1/2 out of 10 for me.

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