I received a copy of Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer's latest book, and I read the whole thing in a single day while traveling back home from the southwest. The book chronicles the life and death of Pat Tillman, the iconoclastic professional football player who enlisted in the Army shortly after 9/11 and whose death by friendly fire in 2004 was shamefully covered up by the military. The book isn't just about Tillman, it's also one of the best analyses of America's involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq that I've ever read. I never paid as much attention to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as I should have, largely because I became so disillusioned by the Bush administration's mismanagement of them. Of course, the Bush administration is gone and the wars aren't over, so I don't have any excuses now. It's only been a week or so, but I have been paying much closer attention to the news from Iraq and Afghanistan than I was before reading this book. I'm not sure if Krakauer could have covered the wars in real-time as well as he did in this book, but more insightful press coverage certainly would have been nice in the earlier days of the wars.
There wasn't a lot of new information about Tillman in this book, but it did include excerpts from various journals that he kept during most of his adult life. The book focuses on Tillman's dual natures, how he was both an extroverted elite athlete turned soldier as well as an introspective intellectual war critic. When I first learned about Tillman after his death, he immediately struck me as someone who would have been vilified by many of the people who were holding him up as a war hero had they actually known him due to his unconventional and outspoken nature. After reading the book, I get the feeling that hating Pat Tillman would be nearly impossible for all but the most myopic partisans.