“American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice

American SNiper

This is the story of Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL and sniper. He’s credited with the most kills by a sniper in U.S. military history and is the basis for the movie “American Sniper” being released nationally in January 2015 and starring Bradley Cooper.

This book covers Kyle’s whole life, from the early years through what he’s doing today after he left the military. It numbers approximately 283 pages (depends on the format, I read the Nook version).

This is going to be the last Navy SEAL/sniper book I’m going to read for at least 3 months because I think I’ve over indulged and am starting to get burnt out. This book started out like the other two books “Lone Survivor” and “Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior” covering the early lives of the author and moves into training as a SEAL. The coverage of training is lighter in this book because the author feels other books cover it in better detail and if the reader wants to really understand training, they should just go through it (I’m passing on this :)).

What this book does much better than “Lone Survivor” is it doesn’t get as arrogant and ego-driven. I’m not saying it isn’t that way, just not to the extreme. Many times the author tries to come across self-deprecating and it just doesn’t work. Here’s an example:

“According to the story I heard, the generals sitting at their desks decided that, since no Marines had gotten Silver Stars during the assault, they weren’t going to award one to a SEAL. I got a Bronze Star with a V (for valor in combat) instead. Makes me smirk just to think about it. Medals are all right, but they have a lot to do with politics, and I am not a fan of politics.” (p. 122). I understand what he’s saying but I’m guessing that it could have been phrased a bit less arrogantly?

The other problem I had was the most frustrating of all. Throughout the book, the author takes a break from his side of the story to interject thoughts from his wife. This would be fine but a number of times her side doesn’t align with what he’s talking about. For example, Kyle is covering a particular battle and all of sudden, the reader is thrown into Taya’s recovery from her surgery from having their second baby. Then BAM! The reader is back in the middle of a battle from Kyle’s viewpoint. It’s confusing to the reader trying to figure out how it the story is supposed to flow when it really doesn’t flow, but is getting interrupted regularly.

The descriptions of the battles, what Kyle went through watching friends get hurt, and the inter-branch cooperation were written well so that’s what bumped it up to 3 1/2 stars for me. I don’t know that I would recommend it and I haven’t seen the movie obviously to determine if it’s better than the book.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Up next is “George Washington” by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn as part of Project President.


About jenvolk5

Bank auditor by day, trivia and knowledge hound all other times.
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5 Responses to “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice

  1. Dale says:

    I’ve seen previews for the movie and it looks really good. I’m also a fan of both Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper so I’m sure that sways me a little as far as the film goes. Thanks for the review of the book. I’ve finished Unbroken and will post something about it soon.

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