Finalist for the National Book Award, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive in Iraq.
"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss.
In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.
In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.
With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.
This moving debut from Powers (a former Army machine gunner) is a study of combat, guilt, and friendship forged under fire. Pvt. John Bartle, 21, and Pvt. Daniel Murphy, 18, meet at Fort Dix, N.J., where Bartle is assigned to watch over Murphy. The duo is deployed to Iraq, and the novel alternates between the men's war zone experiences and Bartle's life after returning home. Early on, it emerges that Murphy has been killed; Bartle is haunted by guilt, and the details of Murphy's death surface slowly. Powers writes gripping battle scenes, and his portrait of male friendship, while cheerless, is deeply felt. As a poet, the author's prose is ambitious, which sets his treatment of the theme apart as in this musing from Bartle: "though it's hard to get close to saying what the heart is, it must at least be that which rushes to spill out of those parentheses which were the beginning and end of my war." The sparse scene where Bartle finally recounts Murphy's fate is masterful and Powers's style and story are haunting.
The Yellow Birds
This story was a tiny window into the bleakness our fellow Americans experienced during their time in Iraq. Kevin Powers presents a moment of self reflection through characters who represent small fragments of our own being. I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a pleasure reading, and trying to understand in the smallest form the experience the men and women of the United States armed services went through.
This book had great potential but gets bogged down with forced phrasing, long winded sentences, strange descriptions, convoluted thoughts, difficult terms/vocabulary etc., which make this book hard to follow at times and therefore a struggle to read and enjoy. There is a good story lurking underneath all the layers of philosophy and observation but it tends to get buried. I see the author is a poet too so it helps me understand the conflict here as I generally do not enjoy poetry. I can see why some critics thought this was a great book as they are probably way smarter and more well read than I am...EAF
Powerful and haunting
The author's beautiful, exceptionally moving use of language, his modicum of words, and his fluency of expression make this a stunning debut as well as a powerful statement about both the coming of age of a young soldier and a testament to the brutality of war...in this case, the Iraq war. I dare you to read this and not be emotionally involved.