American Sniper by Clint Eastwood

Thesis Statement: Chris Kyle, Navy Seal, devoted father, husband, son, brother, and the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history, touched as well as saved the lives of many over his 38 years and 10 as a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs. A recurring theme throughout the book is the unfavorable impacts of Kyle’s war service on his family that is made to cope with the complex and conflicting traumas of his absence and his distant presence whenever he returns, a traumatized individual who longs to go back to Iraq to finish his job. In the novel, Kyle is constantly defending his kills calling the enemies “”savages” and “”despicable””. At one point in the novel, Kyle even goes to say “” I only wish I had killed more,”” “”I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different- if my family didn’t need me, I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL”” pg7. In my opinion, Chris Kyle wrote this book to show the different sides of what everyone was labeling a “”hero””. He wanted to show that despite his accomplishments he still had his struggles, internal and external, just like the rest of us. “”People ask me all the time, ‘How many people have you killed?’ My standard response is, ‘Does the answer make me less, or more, of a man?’ The number does not matter to me””pg7.

Background: American Sniper is an autobiography depicting the horrors of urban warfare in Iraq in addition to the psychological tensions that Kyle experienced overseas as well as the years after he returned home. Born and raised in western Texas, Kyle develops a strong sense of leadership and duty to his country from a young age. It was only natural that in 1996, he join the U.S. military and be recommended for the Navy SEALs, which at the time were relatively unknown. Shortly after completing the brutal training where he was water-boarded, deprived of sleep, and forced to exercise for hours at a time, he met his future wife, Taya. After reading her accounts of a few of the events that take place in the book, it is more than apparent that she is attracted to the fact that he is unusually humble for a SEAL. At one point, he even tells her, “”I’d lay down my life for my country.”” This sense of humbleness, in my opinion, is what led Kyle to be so successful. With somewhere around 160 confirmed kills, he is known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. He was feared so much by Iraqi insurgents, they called him al-Shaitan or “”the devil”” and placed a $20,000 bounty on his head. Throughout the course of 4 combat deployments, he was awarded seven medals, including two Silver Stars. Kyle’s account of his legendary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the greatest war memoirs of all time.

Methods of Research: In the making of this book, Chris Kyle used primary sources, mainly eye witness accounts from his personal experiences. In addition to his own viewpoint, Kyle also includes stories from his wife, Tanya’s viewpoint. This shows how his service effected his family and the differences between their experiences.

Writing Style: One of the main themes I noticed throughout the novel was Kyle’s persistent honesty as he reflected on some of the best and worst moments of his life. Kyle is not a perfect writer, but he tells his story in such a personal and authentic way that you truly feel like you are having a conversation with him. Despite being a member of one of the most elite military units in the world, Kyle remains humble and shows this by the first few pages of the book. He even goes to the extent to say “”…and more importantly, who cares about my life? I’m no different than anyone else.””

Recommendation: I’ve always thought that there was a certain type of person that was made to be a soldier, and if that’s true, after reading American Sniper I can conclude that Chris Kyle was one of those people. It is very prevalent throughout the novel that Kyle truly loved his job as a Navy SEAL. As a fan of the movie, and now the book, I would strongly encourage who enjoys a heartfelt true story to read it. American Sniper leaves its reader to think of the steep prices of war and what the Iraq war has not only meant for American soldiers, but also for their families. Here in the U.S., wars can seem far away and irrelevant in our daily lives. For that reason, American Sniper and stories like it are even more important to help us see a perspective that we may otherwise have never known.

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