"My heart goes out to those who will suffer. Whatever your politics, whatever you believe is right or wrong, the fact is most of those who will feel t...more"My heart goes out to those who will suffer. Whatever your politics, whatever you believe is right or wrong, the fact is most of those who will feel the wrath of this ordeal want nothing more than to live peacefully."
This isn't a book you critique. This book critiques you. When's the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and earnestly rated your patriotism? How much of the news feeds related to the Global War on Terror do you really believe? Would you leave behind a wife and a multi-million dollar job in the limelight to take up arms in an impossible terrain and join a war that goes against everything you believe in? What are you really willing to do to defend the freedoms most people take for granted daily? Do you think you could participate in the fabrication of how a soldier's life came to an end? Are you willing to give a family member to the Armed Services, knowing just how untrustworthy people in even - and dare I say, especially - the highest ranks can be?
My younger brother, who joined the Army earlier in the year, mentioned that he wanted to read this book. I remembered enjoying Krakauer's "Into the Wild," so I gave this book a shot. Then it wound up giving me an unexpected shock. While I was expecting a biographical account of Tillman's life, I was in no way anticipating that it would be paralleled with a sequence of events that led to the perpetual conflicts in the Middle East we all know as being helpless. I learned more about modern-day history in the middle east in reading this book than I ever did reading any history books in school, where they make sure kids are current on events that occurred 200 or 2000 years ago but rarely clue them into the kind of events happening now which will most affect their life upon graduation. I love my country and I absolutely bow down to every American and Ally who has sacrificed their lives to first capturing and then maintaining the freedoms that we enjoy today. But I'm not proud of how America has handled itself behind closed doors. I'm disgusted with many of the unrighteous foreign affairs and sickening bold-faced lies I read about in this book. I am stunned we would sink so far below the principles our country was founded upon.
Pat Tillman gave up everything for this great country and, in return, his country used him as a marketing tool to recruit more soldiers and win more supporters of a war that serves as yet another in a long line of examples of history repeating itself. As Kissinger said of Vietnam: "We lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerilla war: the guerilla winds if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win." If history really is properly regarded as the "progress of ideas rather than merely a record of human events," then apparently we haven't been paying attention to the progress we are supposed to be making.
Not many of the recruits he attended boot camp with inspired confidence in Tillman. In his own words: "One thing I find myself despising is the sight of all of these guns in the hands of children. Of course we all understand the necessity of defense...It doesn't dismiss the fact that a young man I would not trust with my canteen is walking about armed..." Tillman didn't know it at the time, but he was foreshadowing his own demise. It wasn't Afghans who took his life - it was his own men. How ironic that tragic incidents such as this have been coined "friendly fire." What's friendly about being shot by your own men? But apparently these incidents are commonplace in any war. "Chaos is indeed the normal state of affairs on the battleground, and no army has figured out a way to plan effectively for, let alone alleviate, the so-called fog of war. When the military is confronted with the fratricidal carnage that predictably results, denial and dissembling are its time-honored responses of first resort." If I believed in war - any war - to begin with, maybe I could live with that, but what I can't live with is a man who gave up everything for his country being used to manipulate public opinion about the value of war and the state of a presidency. Tillman's family deserved the truth but instead it got one big lie after another. The Army's chain of command for covering up the truth is infuriatingly ridiculous, and the treatment Tillman's family received as thanks for sacrificing their treasured loved one is the saddest showing of honor I can imagine.
This book affected me in many ways. It made me want to hug my wife tighter. It made me want to take my dog out on longer walks. It made me want to send a dozen black roses to every crooked politician in charge of the coverups described. It made me want to shake my head and cry and even vomit as I read about American soldiers being killed in battle - against themselves. But most importantly, I think, this book made me want to live every ounce of freedom we Americans have with a driving, spirited force in honor of a man who lived his values rather than just talked about them. Pat Tillman was a man of action. Regardless of his country's grotesque mishandling of his passing, nothing can take away from this man's true legacy.
Alan Sitomer is a high school teacher in California who teaches in a "difficult" area. Even though he probably wouldn't admit it, I'm sure that a lot...moreAlan Sitomer is a high school teacher in California who teaches in a "difficult" area. Even though he probably wouldn't admit it, I'm sure that a lot of the scenarios and characters in his stories are unfortunately based more on fact rather than fiction. This story is littered with mature (or immature?) language and material, but I hold it's literary value in high regard because there is no doubt these events happen among our youth, and I would rather young kids (high school and above) read about this stuff and learn from the mistakes of the characters in the book rather than find themselves victim to violence's vicious and unforgiving cycle. (less)