Even though I am a huge fan of Jon Krakauer’s work, I found Where Men Win Glory a slow read. Despite my complete lack of interest in both football and the military, I still felt compelled to read this book due to Krakauer’s reputation as a researcher and his ability to unearth the complexities of human personality. The author adequately details the military and political cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire.
His death became a propaganda tool as he was cast as a hero in order to divert the public’s attention from the events overseas. That coverage came at the expense of allowing the biography to gain a sense of organic pacing that would have allowed Tillman’s journey toward joining the Army to be rendered more vividly on the page.
As a reader, I expected more development in terms of formative influences in Tillman’s life as was the case in Krakauer’s book Into the Wild where the narrative stemmed from what would make Chris McCandless drop out from society and live on a bus in the remote Alaskan wilderness. Unlike McCandless’s story, Tillman’s played out on the national stage.
In that respect it makes sense that so much of the book had to be devoted to how the former NFL player’s death was used as a publicity tool for the U.S. military. Still, Tillman’s reasons for becoming an Army Ranger needed more development. The end of the book does end with the summation that a tragic flaw was not Tillman’s undoing; rather, it was tragic virtue. That is the human story at the heart of the book, but it gets overpowered by the magnitude of research involved.
Tillman was the rare breed of person who held deep convictions and lived a life according to his own code. Can we ever really know why a person is the way they are? That question is integral to the story, but it goes against the reader’s expectations. As a reader I didn’t want things tied up with a nice bow, but more could have been done to balance the book’s overall structure.
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For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria. Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.