A quick shoutout and thankyou to my friend Mark for lending me this memorial edition of American Sniper.
Okay, for starters, I’ll admit — I am guilty of not knowing who Chris Kyle was until previews for the film started appearing on television. I had heard his name once or twice from my brother and parents, but never retained any information about him. After reading Lone Survivor (my review for that can be read here) and absolutely loving it, I figured American Sniper would capture my interest just as much. Guess what? I was right.
Chris Kyle is known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He has (officially) more than 160 confirmed kills from his four deployments as a Navy SEAL. He is known as The Legend. In Iraq, he was known as al-Shaitan Ramadi – “the Devil of Ramadi”. During his service, he received a myriad of awards and decorations, such as two Silver Stars, five Bronze Star Medals with Combat Valor, two Combat Action Ribbons, and many more. He was a warrior. Chris Kyle was a lot more than that, though — he was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a teammate, a neighbor, a friend. He was a hero.
As stated in other reviews, I am not a big fan of autobiographies. However, for some reason, military autobiographies seem to capture my attention and hold my interest in a tight vice grip. American Sniper tells the firsthand account of Chris Kyle’s life in and out of war. Right off the bat, you can tell Kyle is not the most eloquent, experienced writer. Of course it was co-written by McEwen Scott and Jim DeFelice, but for all intense purposes, it is Kyle’s story and voice that we read. The writing is pretty short, to the point, and choppy, and the story seems to jump forward, backward, and all around. That doesn’t bother me, though. That’s how our thought process and memories work, especially when you’re a guy who went on four tours over the course of ten years as a SEAL. You can tell he’s pretty down to earth and easygoing, and you can figure out right away that he’s incredibly sarcastic. I loved it. His words made me laugh more times than I could count.
There are also breaks in Kyle’s narrative where his wife Taya includes some of her own additions to the story. I found it very easy to relate to her; in the beginning when she first meets Chris, she tells him that she’d never marry a SEAL. Spoiler alert: she does marry one. However, I’ve told myself for years that I’d never be able to marry anyone in the military because I am much too needy of a person. I always joke to myself that God will shake things up and I’ll fall in love with someone in the military, and that terrifies me, especially since recently reading so much about SEALs and other armed forces. Anyway, it was great to get Taya’s point of view on things and I think it really added to the story.
Kyle saw a lot of things in combat. He had to do what he had to do. A lot of people (typically liberals) criticize him for what he did and the things he would say. Well, I say let them say what they want. We all have our own opinions and are entitled to them. Just like Lone Survivor, this book also had its fair share of negative, sometimes sickening reviews. I skimmed through them and tried not to get offended. Sometimes, I don’t think people actually read the book before reviewing it… I think Kyle made a great point in his book about the media, government, and citizens who criticize the military for certain actions. People criticize Kyle and all the other men in the military for killing. But think about this: what would they do in combat? If a citizen were thrown into enemy territory with a gun and had to face all the things our servicemen and -women face, what would they do? Would they set down their gun and try to hold hands and sing kumbaya? No. If someone came at them with an AK-47 in their hands, they would do whatever they could to save their own life. And if they did throw down their gun? Well, they’d be dead. It’s as simple as that. I could go on and on, and run my mouth about my own opinions paragraph after paragraph, but I’ll stop here. I just hope if you read American Sniper, you’ll keep an open mind and realize that this is nonfiction and this is everyday life for some people. I hope you don’t think that Chris Kyle is an egotistical asshole who is self-entitled and believes he is better than anybody else. I hope you don’t think that he is a murderer who killed people without a second thought. If you do think these things, fine, that’s your opinion. But believe me when I say that that’s all they are: opinions.
Rest in peace, Chris Kyle.