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American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History

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From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle's kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. He recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot outside Baghdad; in Fallujah, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on a street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war—of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends.

American Sniper also honors Kyles fellow warriors, who raised hell on and off the battlefield. And in moving first-person accounts throughout, Kyles wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their marriage and children, as well as on Chris.

Adrenaline-charged and deeply personal, American Sniper is a thrilling eyewitness account of war that only one man could tell.

502 pages, Paperback

First published January 3, 2012

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About the author

Chris Kyle

7 books460 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Chris Kyle is a former United States Navy SEAL, who with 255 kills, 160 of them officially confirmed by the Pentagon, is the deadliest marksman in United States military history.Kyle served four tours in the second Iraq War. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V device four times and the Silver Star. He served on active duty from 1999 to 2009.

Chris and a friend were killed on February 2, 2013, at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range in Erath County, Texas.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,547 reviews
Profile Image for Jim.
371 reviews90 followers
February 29, 2012
I was all excited when I purchased this book, expecting a Carlos Hathcock type tale of derring-do. What a letdown - I was sick of Mr Kyle by page 5.

To begin with, I'm not sure who to credit for this bit of writing; I suspect that Kyle contributed little but the anecdotal accounts and his name to the effort, as two other names are listed with his on the cover. Interestingly, his wife is not given any co-author status although she provides significant input throughout the book.

Now all feelings about the propriety of this very controversial armed incursion into Iraq aside, one thing that turned me off about Kyle was his total lack of regard for his opponent. They're all "evil" or "blinded by evil" throughout this book. What makes them evil is never satisfactorily explained; perhaps Mr Bush's "axis of evil" speech had something to do with it. Anyway, lightly armed Iraqis who oppose heavily armed and armoured coalition troops on Iraqi soil are "evil" and "terrorists". He states several times that he is getting payback. Payback for what, exactly? He also repeatedly claims to be defending his country, although I know of no attempt on the USA by Iraq.

I fully understand that he doesn't decide to send the troops over, and that he has a job to do, but please, Mr Kyle...just a little more regard for the human beings you're killing? Maybe a little remorse for the retarded kid you pounded because he didn't understand you? Hello...he's retarded....and he speaks another lanuage...what the hell did you expect?? People like Mr Kyle are a large part of the reason that the citizens of the USA are held in such disdain by many foreigners. His pomposity and vainglory ooze off of every page.

And the violence! I'm not talking about warfare here...I'm talking recreational violence. Bar fights. Destruction of property. Beating a fellow up because the victim's girlfriend was in an argument with another SEAL. Maybe he figured the other SEAL couldn't handle her? I cannot believe this chap didn't end up in jail. In one chapter he gleefully tells about beating a celebrity because he thought the celebrity (a former governor) was disrespecting a SEAL wake or some such BS. He neglects to mention that the celebrity is now in his 60's. Look it up on Youtube - you can see the "hero" chortling about it on a radio interview.

If this book is worth reading at all, it's only to see the decline in the American military. Apparently the officers have no control. Hazing is rampant. Citizens are beaten with apparent impunity. Childish behaviour like mooning neighbours and chasing Iraqis with radio-controlled vehicles are considered legitimate pastimes. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I won't buy any more books with this fellow's name on them. But if his wife wants to write a book about how she survived living with a self-centred vainglorious manchild, I'm buying it...her contributions were the only parts of the book that made any sense.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
December 7, 2021
Excellent read, absolutely enlightening to how thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention competitive, war can be to those that are obviously hooked on the adrenaline rush. The author was such a man, and when promoted out into an office job, a planner, turned it down because what he wanted to do is be right in the middle of the action with a gun and his mates and was willing to put up with all kinds of hardship and danger, not to mention turning down a pay rise in order to do so.

If people honestly believe that war is something that soldiers absolutely loathe and they only do it to be upright citizens who want to defend their country and way of life, they need to read this book and War, The Junior Officers' Reading Club and perhaps Brotherhood of Warriors, all ones I have read recently. War for conscripts is one thing, but these men are all volunteers and they re-enlist for further tours until either they get it out of their system or think of something else to do - often related, like security services.

This author was the Top Guy, the best shooter of them all, planning his missions carefully, executing them perfectly and - who knew - taking along his notepad (on big missions, there was someone there with a laptop detailing the action!) to make detailed notes about each killing so that he could justify it as was required. The British and Israelis have to do the same thing, Iraqi, Palestinian and Afghani insurgents aren't required to justify their killings. These Rules of Engagement are just one way, and you can be sure that a large amount of the public sympathy is going to go to those who never play by those rules but kill as many as they can. Not only that but it is interesting that Americans at least will also treat those they have just wounded, sending them to their military emergency hospitals which seems to say 'shoot to kill' but heal them if they don't die as, 'we can always have another go at killing them'.

I like reading about the mechanics of war from all sides, whether it be those who some call freedom fighters and others say are terrorists, the military and especially the medical teams that try to put all the still-alive victims back together again. I'm just finishing off Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq and have previously read The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Chronicle of War and Medicine. It's all very interesting but I am glad, so glad, I don't have to fight, I wasn't built for gore, guts or even glory.

Edit: If you read this book then please read http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/us/... Chris had started a foundation to help troubled vets and was working with one, a young man of 25, when the man fatally shot Chris and and his companion. Chris was a wonderful man, a family man, a good author, one who had served his country to the best of his ability. RIP Chris.

Updated 7 Dec 2021
1 review3 followers
February 8, 2012
I tried, I really tried but I just couldn't make it through this book. I wanted to like it because I'm ex military and I live in Texas but about half way through I put the book away for good. The writing was dull and choppy, the sentences short and non descriptive. It read as if it had been written by my nine year old son. I found the repeated referral to bar fights and the continuous boasting of kill numbers to be a complete turnoff. I had hoped for colorful narrative like that of Black Hawk Down but instead found the book, well, just boring.
Profile Image for Jason Fotinatos.
61 reviews41 followers
April 26, 2013
Oh my goodness. I really wanted to like this book. I tried hard to like this book, even if it started out with Chris describing Iraqi women and children as "evil savages" who he enjoyed killing. His only regret was that he did not get a chance to kill more of them. I respect the sacrifices that the members of our military have made over the course of our relatively short history, and the trials that they face when they return back home. So, even if I was disgusted with the first few pages, I read on. I was hoping he only started out in this manner, because he would eventually come to terms with his misguided judgements. Alas, no such luck.

Chris never makes any mention of why he felt that he was doing the right thing by being in Iraq, besides an off-hand comment here and there about how he wanted to kill Saddam Hussein for planning 9/11. The abhorrent ignorances only continue throughout the book, and he adds to the loveliness by constantly reminding the reader how much he enjoys killing. In fact, he discusses his love for the marines, because they are a group of people who "just really love to kill." The irony in that statement is self explanatory.

Even if I didn't appreciate Mr. Kyle's beliefs, opinions, or attitudes, I'd hoped that the saving grace of the book would be the content of the stories. Again, no dice. The whole first half of the book recalls his days filled with abundant free time between training and waiting to go to war, which he spent fighting at bars, and eventually meeting his wife who "looked hot, and classy as hell in black leather pants." When he finally got around to describing the events of the war, he makes no effort to go into any details about the strategies or how a scene unfolded, but glosses over those incidentals to instead describe how great it felt to kill people.

On top of all of this, the writing itself was horrific. He, and his wife who also writes portions of the book, have the vocabulary of a 8 year old child. The only three phrases he used to describe anything was either "it sucked", "it was awesome", or "it was badass!"

Ok, I'm done. Onto bigger and better things.
18 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2012
This book was, without a doubt, one of the worst pieces of literature I have ever wasted my time with.

I was recommended this book by a colleague; and I wish I had the hours back that it took to read.

The author comes across as an unsympathetic, often racist, gun-ho "shoot first, think later"-type - some of the best quotes:

* "I don't shoot people with Korans - I'd like to, but I don't"
* "At times, [killing] was a game"
* "Giving them [the Iraqi people] the tools they needed to progress is not what my job was all about. my job was killing, not teaching"

Ah, how I cringed at the story of the mentally handicapped child

* "I punched him and slapped him to the ground."


What about his slogan, "violence does solve problems". And to close out, Chris attempts to save face "I think America does a lot to support people". Yeah, sure, buddy.

What a horrible book.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,605 reviews5,988 followers
June 25, 2015
Before reading this book I had heard of Chris Kyle. I have not seen the movie and honestly I didn't know much about the controversy surrounding this man.
I'm very conflicted on reviewing this book. I almost just threw up my rating and walked away but I tend to forget the books I've read and I try and review for myself so that I can remember the book later.
This one. I just don't know.
I don't know if they paint Chris Kyle in the movie as he has bared himself in the book. I'm curious enough that I do want to watch the movie now though. In the book Kyle's words are his own. He is not politically correct, and the writing is not smooth and polished. The one thing it is though is honest. It's almost as if he is sitting with you telling you his stories.

There are things about him I liked and things I could not wrap my head around.
His unwavering loyalty to his country. He pushes himself to the limits and then goes past them when he needs too. Then I felt that he put that same country ahead of his family time and time again.
I felt bad about leaving Taya. She was still healing from the birth. But at the same time, I felt my duty as a SEAL was more important. I wanted to get back into action. I wanted to go to war.

Then in a few pages he would talk about the pain he feels when one of his "brothers in arms" is hurt or killed and my heart would hurt for him.

He was a complicated man. I'll give him that. I don't think I could have taken being in his wife's place. She has parts of this book told in her voice and honestly it kept me from not liking Kyle completely that he added them in.
Taya would say, "Wait a minute. You've been gone for how long? And now you want to come home and be part of this family and make the rules: No sir, because you're leaving in another month to go back on training." (This was after he got frustrated with dealing with his young son.

There was a part of Chris Kyle that was completely hot tempered too. He openly puts those parts in the book. He talks about the bar brawls and just sometimes hitting people. I think maybe it was stress relief, I can't say I have the answers. One thing that caused a storm of problems later on was him including him punching a person he called "Scruff face" and if what happened really took place I'm glad he punched his stupid ass. (Now his estate is in the middle of lawsuits from it)

Another thing about Kyle was that even though he did not want to come off as bragging he couldn't help but repeatedly mention the fact that he has the highest number of confirmed kills of any sniper. That contradicted himself over and over and got to the point where when it was mentioned I cringed from it.
He was tough though. I don't think he needed to overly emphasize those facts. He wrote about hell week in the SEALs and that part of the book was excellent. So you knew he was "Badass" without him having to point it out to you.

So all in all. I'm still conflicted with this man and his story. I'm proud that he served his country so valiantly, but I don't think I could have been a close friend of his. Unfortunately.

With all this good stuff going on, You'd think I was living a fairy tale or a perfect life. And maybe I should be. But real life doesn't travel in a perfect straight line; it doesn't necessarily have that "all lived happily ever after" bit. You have to work on where you are going.

Rest in Peace Chris Kyle:
277 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2013
I'm hesitant to write a review of this book. I'm not a military reader, nor do I usually delve into autobiographies. But, I saw Kyle on a tv interview, and liked how he appeared there. I have come away from the book with a better understanding of what the guys on the ground experienced vs. what the news media has shown us here at home. A long time ago when I was studying political science, I studied a mission that failed back in the '70's. I read first hand accounts from the military commander in charge, all the way up to de-classified White House stuff. I walked away from that assignment thinking that the Colonel who planned the mission and then had to answer to that "failure" had a better understanding of human nature, goals, and obstacles than the politicians even wanted to think about. I walked away from Kyle's book with the same attitude.

I wouldn't classify this book as "literature". Literature implies someone who studies and learns a craft then writes a novel. This book is a story. It's value doesn't lie in big words or fancy phrases. The value is in the fact that is has come out so recently after the events have taken place that memories are still fresh. The value of this book is that Kyle wrote the story himself and did not leave it to historians in dusty libraries. With time, the matter-of-fact approach will be invaluable to all the poor rubes who will study political science. They will have an excellent first-hand account to draw from.

Most of all, I've walked away from this book with a sense of gratefulness that I can be sitting here behind my computer with my dog writing a commentary on a warrior's story while my family is safely at work and school. Thank you Mr. Kyle and military personnel.

***2/3/2013 Update
I'm so sad to hear about the senseless death of Mr. Kyle. My condolences to his family and friends. May the work he did helping veterans continue.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,298 followers
April 10, 2016
July 6, 2015

I watched the movie yesterday. While it's brilliantly shot and exceptionally well-directed, it left me cold. I just could not sympathise with gun-crazy, sociopathic protagonist.

I need to read the book now. I do not think I will like it, to judge from a popular quote:

“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Clint saw "Dirty Harry" and "The Man With No Name" of the Sergio Leone westerns personified in Kyle. Maybe that's why he made this movie.

July 11, 2015

I quit two-thirds of the way through. I cannot put myself any more through this torture.

Suggestion to the CIA: next time you want to torture somebody, tie them up and make them listen to an audio version of this book continuously. You will get your confession in no time.

Review coming... after I recover.

July 13, 2015

Here's the review as promised.

First of all, let me confess that I read the book only because I saw the movie. I am a fan of Clint Eastwood as a director. His war movies Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, which showed the same battle from American and Japanese viewpoints - and stressed the human element in both of them - I consider to be worthy additions to the genre. So I expected more of the same in this movie - however, I was sorely disappointed. The protagonist came across as a psycho, and it was not sure whether Clint was rooting for him, or showing us the futility of his battle.

Well, there is no such ambiguity in the book. Chris Kyle sees the world in black and white: American is good, Texan is excellent, non-American is not-so-good, and Arab is bad. He has no doubt why he is fighting the war in Iraq: it is not to help the Iraqis (as the US government would have us believe), it is to "stop this shit from reaching America". He has no qualms about killing; rather, he is at pains to tell us, over and over, that he simply loves it. He is not killing because he is a soldier and it is his duty: he became a soldier to kill.

(You can see plenty of quotes from the book in my status updates. They are only a sample. There are a plethora of such gems scattered throughout the book.)

The portrait of an extremely juvenile character comes out from the book: a person whose ethical sense has been stunted in his pre-teens. The themes which are repeated again and again - his addiction to video games, the comic book heroes he tries to emulate, his simple pleasure at shooting a human being - presents the picture of a kid who have never really grown up. And he does not even bother to hide his racism; he says he would have shot any Arab carrying a Koran with pleasure, had the higher-ups allowed it.

It's interesting to see how the tone changes when the Marines and SEALs are at the receiving end. Then people are not "killed" but "murdered". Also, it's interesting to hear him lamenting about the fact that the Arabs hate him just because he is a Christian, and that religion should be about tolerance - when he is ready to drop anybody with a Koran.

On top of all this bigoted racism, the book is badly written to boot. Of course, he is not a professional writer, but you would expect some coherence and sequence. The narrative comprises short staccato sentences, repetitive descriptions of Kyle's kills interspersed with detailed discussions about arms and military vehicles. I think it would be enjoyable if that kind of thing is your field of interest.


I have a bone to pick with Clint Eastwood, too. His movie bears no relation to this narrative than the bare outline. By infusing a storyline into it, introducing murderous Iraqi characters (like "The Butcher" who kills children by drilling them), and peppering it with philosophical dialogue, Eastwood has tried to present a sympathetic view of Chris Kyle. Sorry, I am not fooled. Whatever you say, Clint, this movie ain't anti-war.

Recommended for people who cheer all of America's military interventions abroad. They would enjoy it more, if they are also religious bigots and racists.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews986 followers
July 2, 2023
The memoirs of the most lethal sniper in US military history gives a lot of insight into Chris Kyle as a man from the South, a cowboy, a navy SEAL, a sniper, a leader and a father.

Whether it's a voice you hate or don't agree with this book gives you insight into that gung-ho, patriotic and loving America culture that many ordinary Americans live and how that feeds into their military. It feels like little is hidden and you get the undocumented truth of the devastation done to Iraq by America and its allies, and paradoxically, and great from a reading point of view, the truth of the immense strength, love and hard-work done by many in the US military and what happens to them when they come home. A poignant and important book in many ways, one who's core message is that violence gets results, I don't agree with. A compelling read nether the less. 8.5 out of 12 firing Four Stars.

2019 read
Profile Image for Keith.
70 reviews5 followers
August 2, 2015
To start with this book is poorly written which makes it a pain to read, but the real point taken from this book is just how clueless the author can be.

I've known plenty of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, they signed up for the military to DEFEND our country then they're shipped overseas to OFFEND other countries. Most soldiers I've known have had the good sense to realize they've been lied to and used by the U.S. government for war profiteering. This author however thinks Iraqis are "evil" for wanting to defend their own country! How absurd is that? He had no problem killing people because he fell for the brainwashing he was given that Iraqis are inherently evil and have no right to freedom, life, or property.

It amazes me that someone can have so many experiences that should show their own hypocrisy yet they still fail to realize it. If the U.S. was invaded by a foreign army that claimed we were just inherently evil and deserved to die wouldn't this author think we'd have the right to defend ourselves? I know I would defend our country, and I know if I was Iraqi and some foreign invader came in to steal my property and freedom then I'd defend myself as well.

Overall the book shows just how foolish some U.S. citizens are. If this guy can be on the front line watching our military murder and steal and not see through the propaganda that's led him to not only waste his life, but to serve out the orders of a tyrannical empire, then it shows that people at home will have an even more difficult time using their heads.

If you read this book with an understanding of the wars, property rights, the difference between offense and defense, etc. then the book provides a good look into how a government can distort someones view of the world to use them for their own gain.
Profile Image for Camelia Skiba.
Author 8 books203 followers
September 3, 2012
The other night, watching the show ‘Stars Earn Stripes’, my son recognized Chris Kyle, the author of “The American Sniper”, a biography he read for a school assignment. Curious about it, I picked up the book and browsed through it. Needless to say, I finished it in 1 and 1/2 days.

I come from a country where patriotism used to be forced down our throat on a daily basis, a continuous lie the communists told us for generations. The result of it? We all hated it.
After moving to the US I always wondered what drives Americans to stand when the national anthem is played before each game. What unseen force tells them to fly their flag, high on a mast, for the world to see it, for the wind to dance with it. What drives them to enroll in the military, leaving all they love and their family and make the ultimate sacrifice.
Chris Kyle’s autobiography answers to all these questions and more. As Chris explains it, it's God, country and family. It's being selfless and the need to protect all that you inherit from your forefathers, believe in, all that you have, and all that you are.
American Sniper is Chris Kyle’s account on the Iraq war where he’s deployed 4 times. To most people one time is more than enough. You serve your country, do your duty the best you can and then return home. But not for Chris. He needed to be there among his fellow countrymen, covering them, taking fire for them and protecting them with his life if it meant that was the last thing he'd do.
What media presented (and I should say manipulated) about the war in Iraq is by far different than Chris’ view on it. We American's didn't go there to, as Chris says, “bring democracy to Iraq”. We went there to protect fellow countrymen, fight for our country not Iraq. It's a war that politicians deemed necessary, not our soldiers. They only followed orders.
As a kid Chris had always dreamt to join the military. A dream he'd fulfilled, lived and finally shared memories of it by writing this biography. It's written from Chris’ point of view, concise and detailed, a progressive narration of war seen through a soldier's eyes. From time to time his wife Taya pitched in, giving us an insight of what a family goes through while their loved ones is at war, the constant fear, the anguish, the frustrations. The biography tells untold stories of unknown heroes. It doesn't sugarcoat, doesn't use fancy words and artistic scenes. There's nothing artistic about the war.
Like you and I doing our job, that’s what Chris did: his job. People might or might not agree with his cold-blooded attitude toward the people he killed. But before you throw that stone let me ask you something: if you disagree with Chris why didn't you stand to protect this country?
God Bless America!

Profile Image for Jessica.
136 reviews6 followers
August 20, 2012
This is a book written by a Navy SEAL Sniper, not a professional author. Yes, he did get some help, but it's ultimately his tale. Could it have been written better? I don't know, maybe, but I think it would have made the book feel more like a "story", and less like an account of his experiences. Personally, I loved this book. There is no sugar coating, no PC koombyah. This is an account of war, and it seems pretty realistic and gritty. I don't feel like the author was grandstanding or bragging, as I've read some feel in other reviews I've read. I think he comes off as a pretty humble guy who just happens to have the talent to be a great warrior, and he's honest about it. What's wrong with that? It's not like he's telling you over and over how awesome he is because he wants your accolaides. Mr. Kyle writes in the beginning of his book that he chose to write it because it had come to his attention that others wanted to tell his story, an he figured he'd better tell it himself. I'm so grateful that he did. I laughed, I cried, and I couldn't put the book down. This is a book about a real honest-to-God hero, written by the hero himself. He's not perfect, he's no saint, but he's no doubt a hero. Do yourself a favor and check this book out, then share it with your friends.

I'm adding this little note on 2/3/13...RIP Chris Kyle. Thank you for your service to this country, and thank you for all the charity work you've done in service to your fellow veterans. God Bless.
Profile Image for Tyson Call.
38 reviews11 followers
May 14, 2012
I’m torn.

On one hand, this book was an interesting look into the day-to-day life of a soldier. Mr. Kyle seems to have no qualms admitting to the less glamorous sides of war, including the bureaucracy surrounding everything a soldier does. On the other, he seems to have not pondered much the implications behind the war that he helped fight. I’m not anti-war, though I know it is a complicated topic. Kyle doesn’t seem to agree. He didn’t seem to have time to think about such things when he was busy picking off “savages” (his words) with his sniper rifle.

Kyle’s attitude is so absolutist that it will make you queasy. He nonchalantly regales the reader with stories about his manly exploits in Afghanistan, in a voice that seems to be feigning “no big deal,” though it is very clear that this is very important to him - that he be perceived as a badass - though it is clear enough from his stories that he need not embellish to meet that macho ideal he strives for.

I have watched videos of Kyle on YouTube and he seems like a kind man. This is not the impression that you will get from this book, as it is filled with bar fights, disrespect for all people of the countries he fought in, and chauvinist posturing. In this book, the way he tells his war stories is akin to taking an already “manly” Chicago-style ballpark frank with all the fixings and adding gasoline as the final condiment. He does everything but whip it out and try to measure for you.

I read Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Soldier and it was a completely different experience. If that book is Saving Private Ryan then this is Captain America.

I acknowledge Kyle’s bravery and sacrifice, even though it isn’t exactly clear that we required it of him as a country. Regardless, the government sent him there, and he was willing. For that I am grateful, as this is no small feat. This very book, however, communicated to me more than anything else that the force which we were fighting was not much more than a band of AK–47 weilding roustabouts, not an opposing army. For Kyle it was just like a shooting gallery, with the occasional lucky shot on the Americans. I don’t claim any personal knowledge of the situation over there, I only know what I read, and this is the impression that I got.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It is not uplifting, nor depressing; it is but an account of a series of battles by a particularly gung-ho soldier who happened to see quite a bit of action during his time at war, but is unwilling to consider the sum beyond the parts.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
Shelved as 'not-to-read'
August 11, 2015
Just saw the movie.

Clint Eastwood certainly presents the case very efficiently: if only we could kill all the people who hate America, the world would be a better place. Though at times I did suspect him of reductio ad absurdum.
Profile Image for Eric Franklin.
77 reviews84 followers
March 31, 2016
This book showcases a pathological lack of introspection on behalf of its author. It takes a complex world at a chaotic time and reduces it to black and white so that he doesn't have to feel remorse or contemplate the root causes of violence and how it might have been avoided in the first place. I respect Chris Kyle's service and hoped to find a thoughtful reflection on his experience in Iraq but this cowboy turned Navy Seal's lack of self-reflection was really hard to read.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,595 followers
October 26, 2019
I was a sniper trained for the SWAT team and was deployed as such on numerous occasions so this book had a little more meaning for me.
Fiction or narrative nonfiction it still comes down to voice and good storytelling and this book has it.
Truly sorry for the outcome of the author.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,065 reviews1,904 followers
June 9, 2022
I loved this book, I thought it was excellent. I never, ever planned on reading it or picking it up. The thing that changed my mind about reading it was that a best friend of mine, a man who is about as far from a Navy SEAL as you can get (LOL) told me that he had read it and thought it was amazing. That got my attention. I really know and trust this man and if he was telling me the book was great, I was going to give it a shot.

I'm so glad I did. This is a fun, wild ride - which is EXACTLY what I look for in non-fiction. Another thing I look for - and something this book provides - is a glimpse into another world, a world I will never experience. I am never going to be military of any kind. So it was fascinating to get this look at someone who made war and soldiering the crux of their existence.

Testosterone and manliness are dripping from every single page - the book is drenched in it. It's very exciting to read.

It was fascinating to read about Kyle. He loves war and he loves killing people. It's fun for him. This fascinates me. He's the kind of guy who gets in a lot (and I mean a lot) of bar fights. He has a temper and also he is not a very patient person, until SEAL sniper training basically beats some patience into him.

I also liked the segments that Kyle's wife, Taya, interjects throughout the book. She gives us a view of what life is like as a military wife. She struggles hard with the fact that her husband loves his job, his country, and his fellow soldiers more than he loves his wife and children.

I couldn't help comparing Kyle and his experiences sniping with James Bond and Bond's experiences with sniping - very similar tactically and talking about the experience, but of course with much different internal dialogue. Bond hates sniping and, in fact, hates killing people. I know, I know, Bond is fictional, Kyle is not - but the Bond books are still fresh in my mind from my recent re-reading of the series, so that's the comparison you're going to get.

All in all, a great book and one I'm very happy to have read. It was fun, informative, and fed my hunger for psychoanalysis. :) :) :) LOL

P.S. I have NOT seen the film.

After reading about 50 reviews on GR, I feel like I have to add some thoughts.

Listen, Chris Kyle is a man I would never date. A violent man with a bad temper is my nightmare. I'm not rating this highly because I think he is a perfect person or anything. The way he treats his wife and children is very poor, in my opinion. He always brushes aside his wife's constant pleas not to re-enlist. Every time he comes home from Iraq he reestablishes his position as "man of the house," what he says goes - with no thought or respect to the schedules and routines his wife has already established in her time alone with the kids. His penchant for physical violence, killing, drinking heavily, and bragging non-stop are not attractive qualities to me. These qualities are OBVIOUSLY NOT a result of the war/combat. These are qualities (except for the killing) exhibited long before he ever joined up. As a teenager he breaks his hand twice from striking cattle in the head. On two separate occasions. I don't know whether this proves he's dumb or just can't control his temper. He's also very involved with the rodeo and loves hunting. Impatient, violent, and hot-tempered are character traits he's had seemingly since birth.

I have nothing negative to say on his actions in Iraq. As far as I'm concerned, he has all my respect and thanks for fighting over there. I could never, ever do what he did and if it weren't for people like him I don't know what would happen. Some people were saying he is racist in the book or, hmmmm, I don't know, very disrespectful and arrogant towards non-Americans. I agree he was disrespectful and arrogant - but he has been sent over to kill hundreds of "the enemy." It's not really a time for him to be a bleeding heart. It would be beyond arrogant and presumptuous of me, someone who has never seen military combat in her life, to judge Kyle's actions in Iraq.

The man has no introspective tendencies. He doesn't look inside himself, he doesn't question any of his actions or thoughts. He doesn't examine his life or what he should or shouldn't be doing. He's very single-minded and he doesn't have a thoughtful, reflective bone in his body. Whether this makes you happy or makes you disappointed: that's who he is. He sees the world in complete black or white. No grey.

The writing quality is - I think everyone can agree - not Pulitzer material. He is writing in a "Hey, buddy, let me tell you what happened last time I was in Iraq!" way. This doesn't bother me, I don't care about that. He's not a writer by trade, and I don't expect him to be. This doesn't affect my rating at all.

The book was highly enjoyable, I was never bored, and I loved (LOVED) the psychological questions I had been asking myself while reading it. After reading it I had a long argument with my friend who is also interested in psychology whether Chris Kyle was a sociopath or not. I love these kind of "my perspective, tell-all memoirs" that expose a person's psyche to me.

Tons of people have brought up the scandal of him being very... enthusiastic in his colorful and (perhaps not always 100% true) storytelling, and the fact that he got in a fistfight with Jesse Ventura (who sued him for defamation and won).



But I don't really care. Him lying or exaggerating in his war stories is just something I can't bring myself to care about. Ditto with the Ventura thing.

Okay. I feel better for getting all that off my chest now.
Profile Image for Brad H.
17 reviews11 followers
May 27, 2012
I have never really given a book review...so please bear with me.
I have seen several posts by people that have said that the writting is not funcional...or displaced ? That might be true. I did find a couple of places where I had to reread a sentance or 2 to understand it.
However, after reading maybe close to 500 + Novels....I would have to place this on the TOP Shelf.
What I found very interesting was it was from his perspective and his inner ordeals. I heard about this book becasue he did an interview on the Opie and Anthony Show on XM radio. So I added this to my ever growing list of books that I wanted to read.

There are few books that a person will come in contact with and will truely enjoy. Not only will you cheer for the kill, but, you will find yourself with a tear for the soldiers and family.

One of the truely cool things about this book was the added view points of his wife and family. After serving in D/S and D/S I did not know what the family was thinking and feeling. It was a refreshing and devestating feeling to now "know" from their perspective.

There is a part in the book, that you know and dread is comming. You know its comming...you know its there but, you can't find it. When you do...its like a cloth covered hammer. its devestaing and tragic...but told from a real soldiers point of view.

I could go on and on..if you wanted but I will leave you with this;

I would walk across NYC noon traffic to shake Mr. Kyle's hand and give his wife a hug. Not for an autograph or fame and fortune. Just to say hello and thank you for the book.

One of the finest books I have ever read.

Brad H.
Profile Image for Steve.
23 reviews2 followers
April 1, 2013
This book made me sad - both for the Americans who were killed or maimed, and for the people who are killed and maimed by the Americans.

War sucks, and is almost always wrong.
This book did nothing to change my opinion on that.

It was very familiar reading Chris's experience and understandings and recognizing myself when I join the Marine Corps both to fight for my country and to prove myself right before the first gulf war. I was both a patriot and a romantic. Now I am neither, but instead I wish for liberty for all people and see that most evil and suffering is caused by governments going to war for their various agendas - rarely for defense of their people which is the only valid reason for violence.

If you don't understand the mindset of our young men and women being willing to kill for, and die for their country, then I recommend that you read this book. I didn't love it. It was not fun for me to read - but it was very familiar. My one fear about this book and others like it is that people reading it begin to romanticize war and violence.

Sure, it is exciting. Entertaining. Even sounds fun. But the reality is much much different.

Let's support our troops by bringing them home.

Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,849 followers
April 12, 2012
This is without doubt an interesting and I believe a valuable book. I note several reviewers which note that the book isn't well written. This is somewhat true in that the writer makes use often of short declarative sentences. There are no literary flourishes no genteel turns of phrase. On the other hand the writing style is direct, clear and (again) interesting. The book is often much like reading a letter from a friend.

This story takes us into the training life, the professional life, and also the personal life of a SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land Teams). There are intersecting chapters where we hear from Kyle's wife. There is at least a bit of insight into both their thoughts and feelings. I suspect anyone who's ever been in a situation anything like this will be reminded of the struggle of someone else to understand what's in your mind while you try to grasp what's in theirs.

I'm tempted to say more, but I won't as I can't do justice in a review to what's covered in the book. It's I suppose that I've just finished it and it's in my mind.

You will probably come away from this book with your own impression of Chris Kyle, his life and his beliefs. And of course, his actions.

I have the greatest respect for him. We would be and I'm sure are different in many ways but in others we'd agree 100%. I've been in...friendly fights. I have badly damaged knees left that way I'm sure from a life time of heavy physical work. BUT the first major injury to my left knee was in a "friendly fight" with a Marine (a U.S.Marine) when I was in the army. He had me by four inches and a few pounds and when he threw me across the floor I shifted to to stop myself and get up...and turned my knee out sideways at a good 90 degrees. I never reported that injury but hobbled around for months lest I get in trouble for it. Oh well...(this was 1974, I was discharged in 1975) Anyway, all the best to Chris Kyle and his loved ones. I wish him and his family a wonderful life and hope he and his partners prosper.

I recommend this book. You will if you allow yourself an open mind find out things that have not been spoken of through most media outlets. They're not secret or classified, they just don't fit the picture most want to show. You'll learn of the comradery found in combat. You'll even learn that things like honor and patriotism aren't thought obsolete, naive or silly in all places. Not yet at least.
Profile Image for Markus.
90 reviews23 followers
June 17, 2019
'We hope you liked listening this audiobook'...well, sir, i didn't, not even the least bit. First i thought this was a joke and my sarcasm detector was broken, just too painfully stupid to be true. It starts just fine, a little bit back story, training etc. Then 9/11 happens and our hero goes to war. He kills 150 + enemy soldiers, i mean, pure evil savages. This is Iraq, Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks and so on, so why these savages doesn't appreciate when USA tries to rebuild this stone-age country? Why they keep shooting back, when soldiers try protect freedoms and such?

So does this killing of bunch of evil savages hurt our humble hero conscience, of course not, i keep forgetting, because they all were pure evil savages + Jesus & God. This guy claims he even punched out Jesse 'body' Ventura, really? Pentagon and the war department, i mean, the defense department approves this book. For me, this was just a sad propaganda piece, there are far better books out there, couple comes to mind right away, My War: Killing Time in Iraq and The Good Soldiers that gives a far better and real picture of the current 'wars'.

Avoid at all cost if you get a rash from black/white world view and overblown patriotism.
Profile Image for Kelly.
3,127 reviews31 followers
March 3, 2013
This is hard for me to review. I do not have a military background, and I fear that my comments here might upset those who do. I chose to read the book after Chris Kyle was killed while on a gun range. I have not seen him on any TV interviews nor have I read any other articles about him. I saw the brief news report about his murder, and I remembered reading a review of his book. Some of Kyle's descriptions fascinated me with his direct honesty while others repulsed me with his cavalier attitude/descriptions. In the beginning Kyle says that it doesn't matter how many of the enemy he has killed, but he then goes on to "brag" (was it bragging or am I reading too much into his words?) about the number of kills on different missions. For a Christian man, he certainly swears quite a bit (that's merely an observation and not a criticism because I, too, swear despite being Christian). I found myself liking and almost admiring Kyle at times for his bravery, patriotic loyalty, and his "aw shucks, I'm just doing my job and I'm not anyone special" attitude. However, other times I found him irritatingly obtuse about family and civilian life, and I found the stereotypes he highlighted about training, other branches of the military, and the enemy degrading. I liked that Kyle's wife added her side of the story to some of the chapters because it humanized Kyle,and It's nice that the couple's marriage survived despite the odds. I was never tempted to stop reading the story, and I like that Kyle was candid in his portrayal of what he does - he's very human - part hero, part badass, part humble, part good ole boy - all that is needed to be the man and SEAL he needed to be in order to get the job done. My final verdict? I might not always connect with a man like Kyle or feel comfortable with what he does and why, but I'm darn glad that there are men like Kyle who are willing and able to do what most of us cannot. And I am saddened that his death was unbecoming of the man he was; he deserved better than that.
Profile Image for It's just me Shelly B.
251 reviews283 followers
January 21, 2015
“....the insurgents put out a bounty on my head.
They also gave me a name: al-Shaitan Ramadi—“the Devil of Ramadi.”

The American troops he worked with called him, "The Legend." So take your pick "the Devil of Ramadi" or "The Legend?" They both sound pretty bada$$ to me!!!!

Chis Kyle...
Navy SEAL...Sniper...husband...father...leader...patriot!

“The Navy credits me with more kills as a sniper than any other American service member, past or present."

What fascinated me most with this book was being able to understand the thoughts behind these type warriors. The mindset that comes with this type of discipline is beyond what I could ever comprehend. Basically I was "awe struck" I could not put this book down! Now if you are looking for Pulitzer Prize writing you aren't going to find that here and some parts are very choppy. However I didn't care I just wanted his thoughts, the writing style didn't matter to me with this one;)

The book touches on all aspects of his life, so not only do we get all the gory war details and the hardships faced during wartime but also the toll all the deployments had on his wife and family. It's not sugar coated, he did not try to make himself look good, it was real. The letters from his wife especially toward the end broke my heart, as a mother myself I can't imagine how difficult it was for her with an infant and a toddler, no help and constantly worrying if your husband is dead or alive.

“came down to the conflict we’d always had—where were our priorities: God, family, country (my version), or God, country, family (Chris’s)?”

It makes you think more about all the sacrifices that are faced by our Armed Forces and by their families, in order to protect us and give us the liberties we are accustomed to.

Chris Kyle, in my mind, is a true American hero.
Profile Image for Tom Mathews.
686 reviews
November 26, 2015
There have been so many wildly differing opinions about Chris Kyle, his memoir, and movie Clint Eastwood made from it that I long ago decided that the only opinion I could trust is my own, so here goes.

After just a few pages it became apparent that to fairly review Kyle’s book one must first, and separately, express one’s views on Kyle himself. Then, and only then, will I be able to review the book itself.

In my younger days I served as a Navy corpsman assigned to a Marine Corps unit. I found the Marines I served with different from anyone else I had ever known. Their view of the world was unlike mine in almost every way. They were more likely to see things in black and white. They were often rude, crude and socially unacceptable. Their interest in understanding the enemy extended only to learning how best to kill them. Very few of them were any good at literary discussions. Despite that, they took their duties very seriously. Becoming Marines was the crowning achievement of their lives. They were very dedicated and extremely loyal. If I ever found myself in trouble, there is nobody on earth that I would rather have watching my back.

These men were warriors. The word ‘warrior’ applies to any combat soldier, Marine, SEAL or any other military personnel whose primary career is to engage an enemy by direct action. A warrior’s job is to kill the enemy, and do it efficiently. An effective warrior achieves no benefit from recognizing the humanity of the enemy. Doing so only hinders his ability to accept and live with the life he has chosen. He is neither a psycho killer nor a hero. He’s just doing his job.

Chris Kyle was a warrior, and a very good one.

If you find this distasteful, your distaste is misdirected. It is war and the politicians who start them that deserve our scorn. Winston Churchill once said “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” As long as we live in a world where such men are needed, I will be grateful that men such as Kyle exist.

Now for my impressions of the book itself. The truth is that I enjoyed it but it could have been better. It read less like an autobiography and more like a collection of anecdotes. The chapters were broken down into sections, many of less than a page, each relating an incident that occurred during his training or deployments in Iraq. As I read it I pictured Kyle sitting with a ghost writer and tape recorder, telling stories and answering question. The short sections made it easy to read and the anecdotal delivery reminds me of an exchange of war stories told over a few beers at the local watering hole. Such exchanges can reveal more about the speaker than intended and Kyle is often overly candid regarding his view of the Iraqis, politicians and officers.

What the book does best is describe the role snipers played in Iraq. I have read several books on the war and American Sniper provided an unparalleled picture of snipers’ roles during the campaigns in Fallujah and Ramadi and how they supported other military units.

One section of the book that falls short is where Kyle describes the weapons and equipment he used. This must have been a difficult section to write because the writer must answer the questions of those ignorant of firearms while not boring those who are already familiar with the tools of the trade. As a veteran who is not unfamiliar with weapons I should have had no trouble in following everything he said on the subject. Even so, I found myself struggling with some of the technical jargon he used. In addition, some equipment he mentioned such as VS-17 panels, bright orange pieces of cloth displayed to identify themselves to friendly forces, were not adequately described until more than 150 pages after they were first mentioned. This makes me think that readers would be greatly aided by a glossary at the back of the book.

Some critics have said that Kyle was an egotist. While I have never known a SEAL who wasn’t, the book does little to dissuade that opinion. In the section on equipment he says that his headgear of choice was a baseball cap because ‘you look so much cooler wearing a ball cap.’ He also wasn’t above expressing the typical enlisted man’s tongue-in-cheek scorn of officers with such remarks as ‘but then I’m just a SEAL and obviously don’t understand those sorts of complicated issues’.

I found the book interesting, more so than the movie. I’m a bit of a history buff so I found the first person description of combat in the Iraq war informative. Kyle’s memoir was more candid than most and I suspect that readers who don’t often read first person accounts of war may struggle to appreciate his point of view.

*The review copy of this book was obtained from a friend and neighbor who is a retired Navy submariner. Thanks, Bob, for your service and for the loan of this book.
Profile Image for TL .
1,879 reviews53 followers
December 28, 2014
On my own, I probly wouldn't have picked this up... nothing against these types of books, just not my normal read. I got this as a christmas gift from my Aunt Eileen so I figured why not step out of my book zone and try it?:)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this... I may not agree with everything Chris says but I admire and respect him... he's a got a strong sense of faith and patriotism. He made things that would normally have my eyes gloss over sound interesting and compelling.

I loved when his wife Taya inserted her thoughts as well... you get to see her love for her husband, her struggles when he was on deployment.

The way this is written, I felt like I was in Chris's head or walking beside him as he explained things and showed us what he and his platoon and all of them went through.

Not a quick read but an enjoyable one, easy to get lost in and forget where you are :).

Not an in-depth review but I would recommend this *waves* happy reading!
December 16, 2019
Read my full review of American Sniper here.

This is not a popular opinion, and I understand that, so I do not say it lightly - I found this book abhorrent. It literally made my skin crawl. By page 4, Kyle is passing moral judgments on the “worth” of Iraqi lives versus American ones. Oh, but he doesn’t call them Iraqis – they are the “bad guys”. They are also “pure evil”, and “savages”, and "whackadoos", and he "wishes he'd killed more of them". I use all of these inverted commas to emphasise that these are the actual words he used to describe the human beings that he killed.

This could have been a fascinating insight into the nature of modern warfare. Instead, it was a senseless 400-page humble brag of the narcissistic brainwashed white man, the love story of Chris Kyle and his big gun.
Profile Image for Jake.
176 reviews9 followers
January 29, 2015
Almost unreadable on both subject material and writing style fronts. I will admit upfront that I sharply disagree ideologically with the author and knew that going into the book. I thought it would still be a good read for a viewpoint that I couldn't otherwise get and a firsthand account of a subject I haven't read a whole lot about. And it's good to read things I disagree with.

I came away beyond disappointed -- to a level of distaste that bordered sometimes on disgust. Granted, I cannot fully empathize with the hellish situations Chris Kyle repeatedly found himself in, and in no way is this an attack on his service, which I can still acknowledge and appreciate despite disagreeing.

I was hoping for some semblance of reflection on what it's like to be in a situation with the power to take life, the thoughts that would go through someone's head, a meditation on the situation in Iraq that allowed people -- yes, the "insurgents" "savages" and "muji" are indeed people -- to take actions like they do.

There was none of that. There was plenty of glorifying slaughtering people -- PEOPLE -- husbands, dads, brothers -- broken people doing evil acts, but still PEOPLE. It seemed as though the author sat down with a thesaurus for killing and used every possible verb to eliminate life. It was numbing. There was a larger time spent reflecting on the mechanical assemblies of Chris Kyle's guns than there was on what sat behind the evil that drives people to terrorism.

Sad, disappointing, and, in my opinion, full of hate and a scary dogmatic allegiance to the United States. This book was not uplifting, encouraging, or thought-provoking. Many times, it read like fan fiction for a Call of Duty video game.

All of this said with respect to the attitude of service and greater cause found in many people in the military, which I recognize gives me the ability to stand on the outside and critique.
Profile Image for Neil.
121 reviews33 followers
January 14, 2015
I really liked the movie that was based on this book. That was until I read the book unfortunately poetic licence from the film makers has taken over again. Why take a great book then mess around with the truth of it had Chris kyle still been around I think the movie would of been totally different. That being said I loved the book.....honest and captivating and written with a bit of wit in harrowing and horrific circumstances its a very good read. Recommended.
7 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2015
I can't believe Chris Kyle is gone, he has left a void in this world that can't be replaced. I really enjoyed the writing in his own words. I felt like I got to know him, feel what he was feeling, experiencing. The man was a American Hero, he did what his country ask of him, he did more than ask of him, there needs to be more Americans with the same values and beliefs as Chris.
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