Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer
Published by Doubleday
From the publisher:
Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan.
Though obvious to most of the two dozen soldiers on the scene that a ranger in Tillman’s own platoon had fired the fatal shots, the Army aggressively maneuvered to keep this information from Tillman’s wife, other family members, and the American public for five weeks following his death. During this time, President Bush repeatedly invoked Tillman’s name to promote his administration’s foreign policy. Long after Tillman’s nationally televised memorial service, the Army grudgingly notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire while it continued to dissemble about the details of his death and who was responsible.
In Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to render an intricate mosaic of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death. Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell”—and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers.
Krakauer chronicles Tillman’s riveting, tragic odyssey in engrossing detail highlighting his remarkable character and personality while closely examining the murky, heartbreaking circumstances of his death. Infused with the power and authenticity readers have come to expect from Krakauer’s storytelling, Where Men Win Glory exposes shattering truths about men and war.
When I try to talk about this book to people, I get tongue-tied and I can’t figure out what to say to properly convey how incredible an investigator and writer Jon Krakauer is. The story of Pat Tillman is a complicated, inspiring, infuriating, disturbing, and shocking one and Krakauer made this man, his personal history, and the military in general come to life. I learned so much about not only Pat Tillman but about the military in general and about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in particular just from this one book, it was absolutely fascinating.
I didn’t know much about Pat Tillman before picking up this book. I do remember when his death was all over the news, but I had no idea how murky the circumstances of his death were, nor did I know that there was an attempt to cover up the fact that he was shot by friendly fire. There is so much information in this book – about Tillman’s life growing up, his family, his relationship with his wife, his football career, his reasons for joining the military, his military career, military history, details about two wars, a play-by-play of how Tillman actually died, the attempted cover-up after, and finally how the family dealt with his death and continued with their lives afterword – see, that’s a ton of information! Yet it never felt overwhelming, and Krakauer laid everything out in such a way that really gave the reader a solid understanding of every single element of the book.
I listened to the audio of Where Men Win Glory, narrated by Scott Brick, and it was fantastic. His voice in general is captivating, but the way he is able to use his voice to properly pace out the book, to draw the listeners’ attention to certain things, is pretty incredible to me. This is the perfect example of the best kind of audiobook.
I HIGHLY recommend both the book and the audio experience. Krakauer is truly fantastic and I need to read the rest of his books as soon as possible.