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The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  887 ratings  ·  107 reviews
A love story and an inspirational tale of recovery and self-discovery, Marie Tillman opens up for the first time about her marriage to ex-NFL star Pat Tillman, and her journey to rebuild her life after his death.

In 2003, Pat Tillman, serving in the US Army, hastily wrote a "just in case" letter to his wife, Marie. When he returned on leave before his departure to Afghanist
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I purchased this short memoir after reading Jon Krakauer's book Where Men Win Glory, which is one telling of the Pat Tillman story.

The Letter was written by Pat's widow, Marie Tillman, and turned out to be a nice compliment to Krakauer's book as it explored the very sensational story from a completely different and very intimate angle.

I found this book to be both beautiful and compelling. I'm not sure what assistance Marie Tillman had with writing it, if any--the prose are simple and straight fo
Mikey B.
With all due respect for the anguish endured by Marie Tillman I decided to abandon this book with about one hundred pages left.

There are heartfelt moments when she describes how she coped when her husband died in Afghanistan – and then the gradual revelation of just how he died – by “friendly fire”.

As with most autobiographies it is inundated with mundane affairs. There was too much about her husband’s football career for example. The last one hundred, which I admittedly skimmed, were her readju
Camelia Skiba
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
They say behind each successful man, there's a smart woman. I say behind each hero there's a Marie.

The Letter by Marie Tillman is a heartfelt insight into her life after her husband’s death as well as a journey through all stages of grief she’s experienced since then. Pat Tillman’s life had been in the spotlight very little before he died as both he and Marie have shied away from the public eye, preferring the coziness of their home, the serenity of their relationship, the comfort of their love.
I have read Jon Krakauer's book on Pat Tillman and the book written by Pat's mother, but I always wondered how Marie (Pat's widow) was handling things after his death. She remained so private and shut away, but has now decided to share her story.

This is not a book about Pat Tillman. Yes, she shares some stories of him, but it's more about her and her relationship with him, both during their life together and after his death. And that's the way it should be. She is her own person and not defined
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Ironically, the letter in this case was almost a footnote. It is barely mentioned, and not reprinted in full. It was the first of many incomplete tales within the story. This was really a narrative of Marie Tillman, and although she is well educated, bright, and capable, her story is just not that interesting, and she fails to tell her husband's story in a meaningful way. Although all people grieve in their own way (and that was one point which was well-made), her description of their relationsh ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Letter- My Journey through Love, Loss & Life by Marie Tillman was her touching love story and the gift he husband Pat gave her. I was reading another book that happened to be in the bedroom where my husband was sleeping and I did not want to wake him so I grabbed this book out of my library bag of books and once I started reading I could not stop. I read the book the in one sitting. This book is one that left me feeling so many things. It is so personal and you see Marie in times of raw emot ...more
Aug 28, 2012 added it

I don't want to give this a star rating because I don't feel like it's my place to quantify someone's personal journey like this. This book left me feeling different than I thought it would. Everyone gets by the best they can with what they know. I can't imagine a trial like this. I couldn't help but hope I'd find a different source of solace if it were me. There seemed to be a theme that "you are your only source of peace". I don't believe that. It didn't resonate with me. I felt deflated and
Mary Kenyon
May 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
While the author is obviously well-educated (and well-off) this book isn't one I would recommend to those who are grieving. There seems to be little insight or answers for someone who has had a loss. While I most definitely sympathize with her tremendous loss, I found her casual affair two years after her husband's death most disturbing. I ended up flipping through the last half; there was no redeeming value to her grieving. She didn't really let the reader into her grief, except briefly, once o ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For many years, my husband & I had Arizona State football season tickets and had the pleasure of seeing Pat Tillman play, when he was attending college there. Although we didn't attend Arizona Cardinals games, we were glad he joined them & stayed in Arizona. But like so many others, we were shocked, amazed and impressed when he chose to give up a lucrative career in the NFL to join the Army Rangers, shortly after the September 11th attacks. And like the rest of the world, we cried when we learne ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Marie Tillman is such a calming person, in my opinion.

When I read Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, every time I felt outraged, Marie Tillman would step in and calm me down. When I found out that she wrote her own account, I decided that I just had to read it.

This book was a quick read for me. Marie breaks the book into three parts, part one focuses on Pat's early years in the Army and his death while giving a summary of their relationship. Part two is when Marie is dealing with h
Shane Schirmer
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting read, but one that necessitates an interest in Pat Tillman, and the events that led to his decision to join the Military. I really felt for Marie Tillman as I read this book. She certainly handles herself with great dignity and grace.
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012, favorites
I was a Sun Devil during the same years Pat Tillman and I was moved by his choice to leave a football career behind to join the military. While I never knew him personally his death impacted me. I've since participated in 4 Pat's Runs - starting at his former high school, ASU and several in SF. It's a cause than means a lot to me.

So when I read an excerpt from this book on the Pat Tillman Facebook page I knew I had to read the whole thing. I never knew much about Pat's wife Marie other than the
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can honestly say that this is the best book I've read this year. A must read for anyone who wants a reminder that life is short and what you do with your time here is important, and a decision you must make daily. It was tear-jerking in many places, but overall a story about grief and becoming the person you are meant to be. ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Hard to rate a book like this. I certainly don't want to downplay her suffering or any of the things she went through and I can't imagine experiencing the same, but I didn't feel moved or really connected to her story. ...more
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed in this book. The loss of her husband was a terrible and needless tragedy, but I just couldn't relate to the choices she made following his death. ...more
Peter Harrington
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I gave this book four stars for the following reasons. It instantly earned some stars given the fact that the Author is also the one to read the book on CD; I prefer to listen to autobiography's and Non Fiction stories especially that are read by the author because not only do you get to hear what they wrote you can hear how they express what they wrote and that give you much more then just the written words. The book is obviously a very personal story from the Author who is a Widow; married to ...more
Ian Allan
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice companion to the Jon Krakauer book, WHERE MEN SEEK GLORY.

I appreciate the author opening up and sharing her feelings of grief, walking us through what it might be like to have a love one killed in battle.

Impressive (on the audio version) that she reads it herself. Earlier in his life, she wasn't comfortable with public speaking. Now she's turned that around enough that she did the recording of the book (which was just fine).

As far as giving it a star rating, I got it at either 3 or 4.

For me
Mar 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
An amazing account of a wife’s journey through grief and healing. I was disappointed that she did not go into the part of the story of which I knew little: the Congressional hearings into Pat Tillman’s death. I suppose this is still a difficult part of her story so she opted to omit it from anything but a brief mention. I found myself crying at the beginning and at the end. Her pain was profound and I’m glad that she chose to share her journey in healing. It is an amazing story.
Farzana Marie
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing

"I ask that you live." -Pat

"I kept that affirmation going in my mind. I was not broken." -Marie Tillman
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was good to read a true, but sad story. War is wrong .
Jennifer Diaz
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of surviving the death of a spouse.
Dianne Stevens
I didnt finish it, I got as far as the chapter 4 and lost interest. Had nothing to hold my attention.
May 12, 2021 rated it liked it
The true story of Marie Tillman, Pat Tillman's widow. The sad story and her struggle to build a life were familiar. ...more
Blake Eldridge
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This story is about an army wife(Marie Tillman) who loses her husband(Pat Tillman) in Afghanistan and tells her story of how she overcame that loss and explains the impact of his absence. She also explains the importance of the people who influenced her before the death of her husband and who helped her become the person she is now. Them being her husband, Pat, his brother, Kevin, and Marie's best friend, Christine. Although the death of Pat severely hurt Marie, all the characters were majorly e ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marie Tillman was thrust into the spotlight when her husband, Pat was killed in Afghanistan. What made Pat's death stand out among the thousands of other soldiers killed in that war is that Pat left the NFL to join the Army and he was killed by friendly fire. In her book, Marie recalls their life together, the aftermath of his death, and how she moved on.
I confess I didn't know much about Pat Tillman until I read this book other than the headlines. Marie tells his life with loving care. She show
K2 -----
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a quick read. You will react to depending on the expectations you bring to the book.

Marie Tillman's story is well-told and is certainly a way to gain insight into this tragic American story, of a hero, who was not only killed by 'friendly' fire but whose circumstances of death the military covered up. Reading this on the heels of seeing "The Invisible War" made me that much more upset, at how the military covers its own tracks, and betrays so many people's commitment to serving their co
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
My husband had recently read a book by Jon Krakauer called "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman." We typically don't read the same types of books, but his description of it intrigued me. It was about a former NFL player, Pat Tillman who ended up leaving the NFL to join the army to make a difference. He ended up getting killed in Afghanistan. At first it was said that he was killed in enemy combat, but it turns out the government covered it up and he was actually killed by one of his ...more
Brett Hinton
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
The first half of the book was very compelling for me. It discussed Marie and Pat's early life and relationship and his decision to enlist. It also centered on his death in Afghanistan and Marie's initial stages of grief and trying to cope with that grief.

The last half of the book focused on her efforts to move forward in life while keeping the memory of Pat alive. I felt like it lacked some of the depth of the first half and I found that I enjoyed it less than the first half. I suppose my react
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Just realized I never wrote a review of this book even though I read it about a year ago. It is a very quick read. I read the book in one day because I just couldn't put it down. Marie provided a very open, almost raw, account of the days and months immediately after her husband's death. I appreciate her openness as I've heard she is a private person who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. I don't understand people who gave her negative reviews because they do not agree with the way she grieve ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I probably never would have read this book (likely) if not for my book club. It was a super easy, quick read and overall I enjoyed it. It was interesting having attending ASU around the same time Pat Tillman did, and I remember watching him play football, and remember when he enlisted in the military and then was subsequently killed. His wife Marie paints a pretty good picture of who Pat really was, and why he did what he did, and he seemed like a genuinely good person. I think this book could b ...more
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