As the saying goes, the book—especially when written by the man who lived the stories—is better than the movie, which by all accounts is going to break all manner of box office records.
This book review, written days after author and retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s death, made me go back and re-read American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. The perspective of his non-credited co-author, his wife, Taya Kyle, provides an eerie and ironic perspective. “It’s taken me years to get my head around some of this stuff. On the surface, Chris wants to just go and have a good time. When people really need him though—when lives are on the line—he is the most dependable guy. He’s got a situational sense of responsibility and caring …”
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Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield, both of Midlothian, Texas, were murdered on February 2, 2013, by a Marine suffering from PTSD, whom they had befriended to help him work through his troubled return to civilian life.
Fighting to Protect
Co-written with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, American Sniper is a laid-back narrative that follows Kyle through his youth in Texas to becoming a sniper with SEAL Team 3. Deployed in Iraq, Kyle highlights his participation in the urban battles for Fallujah and Ramadi. Fighting to protect fellow soldiers, he shares numerous accounts of killing more than 250 military combatants. Not content to provide just long-range surgical strikes, Kyle joined fellow soldiers as they went from house to house, rooting out insurgent fighters and killing them in ultra-close-quarters battle.
Homage Kyle paid to a fellow SEAL, Mike Monsoor, mirrors the way many felt about Kyle. “Petty Officer Monsoor’s actions could not have been more selfless or clearly intentional…he had the only avenue of escape away from the blast, and if he had so chosen, he could have easily escaped. Instead Monsoor chose to protect his comrades by the sacrifice of his own life.” Petty Officer Monsoor leapt on a grenade to protect two other SEALS, was killed by the blast and was later awarded the Medal of Honor. Kyle lost his life trying to give aid to a fellow troubled Iraq veteran. More than 7,000 people attended Kyle’s memorial service in Texas Stadium on February 11, 2013. Kyle was buried the next day in Austin, Texas, after a funeral procession from Midlothian, Texas, to Austin that stretched over 200 miles. The funeral procession, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, may have been the longest in American history.
I personally count it an honor to have briefly met Chris Kyle. Learn what duty, honor and patriotism mean through the eyes of a warrior in American Sniper.