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TXT The Yellow Birds download – Book or eBook

Kevin Powers õ 6 READ

Om constant danger Bound together since basic training when their tough as nails Sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible action. The first lines of Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds announces that it intends to be a classic war novel to be placed on the shelf somewhere between All uiet on the Western Front and The Things They Carried The war tried to kill us in the spring As grass greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed we patrolled low slung hills beyond the cities and towns We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith kneading paths into the windswept growth like pioneers While we slept the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer The first couple pages are like this Pungent and beautiful and filled with vivid scenery and metaphor Its excellence is almost exhausting and you wonder how Powers can sustain it The short answer is that he cannot In the end for me at least Powers obvious authorial talents cannot mask a rather hidebound plot and wafer thin characters It is a good book but certainly not the timeless classic that is being peddled The most pertinent and obvious thing to say about The Yellow Birds is that it is about the Ira War written by a veteran who served as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar This is worth mentioning because that war is still a recent and polarizing event Have an opinion and you are likely to get a disproportionate response At the very least The Yellow Birds is interesting because it is on the vanguard of our literary grappling with the war There are still novels published making sense of Vietnam if that serves as any indication there are countless permutations of the Ira War novel ahead of usPowers vehicle for telling his story is as old as war the platoon narrative Young Private Bartle the novel s first person and first person plural narrator goes to war with younger Private Murphy who Bartle has pledged to protect They are watched over by tough yet caring yet deadly Sergeant Sterling who seems to have walked in from every other war novel ever written These three along with the rest of the mostly nameless faceless unit is engaged in the battle of Al Tafar Complex characterizations are not on this novel s mind From the very beginning we learn that Private Bartle is unable to save Private Murphy who s death is foretold but not explained The gradually unfolding circumstances of Murphy s death along with the attendant conseuences for Bartle and Sterling serve as the novel s animating mystery This creates tension of course but also results in infuriatingly elliptical prose I have found myself growing and frustrated with authors who withhold information for no reason save a manufactured mystery If you want to surprise me don t tell me Murphy dies in the first couple of pages If you do tell me that Murphy dies that s fine but your book needs to be than vague allusions until the actual third act climax To further facilitate the secrecy surrounding Murphy s demise Powers employs a fractured narrative structure For example the first three chapters occur successively in September 2004 in Al Tafar Ira flashes back to December 2003 for basic training at Fort Dix and then jumps forward to March 2005 to Germany where Bartle and Sterling stop en route to America The structuring itself does not cause any confusion This is not one of those literary works that attempts to elide time and space through overwrought stream of conscious prose I recently read a book like that and it irritated me I m processing my irritation right now as you can see Instead each of these temporal shifts are clearly datelined The jumbling of the chronology is meant to hide the ball with regards to the details of Murphy s fate I found it a useless adornment I know that fractured narratives are all the rage but they re becoming tiresome when they serve no deeper overarching purpose than to veil plot points Ira along with Vietnam is America s most controversial war Thus it s not surprising that The Yellow Birds conveys a message Powers chooses to focus on the disconnect between soldiers and civilians In one memorable scene a stateside Private Bartles refuses to let a patriotic bartender buy his drinks Later in a mirror twinning of the novel s opening lines Powers writes Then it was spring again in all the spoiled cities of America The dark thaw of winter fumbled toward its end and passed I smelled it reeking through my window during that seventh April of the warOn the plane ride home a cynical Bartle notesThe pilot made an announcement when all the passengers had taken their seats Said how honored he was to be giving an American hero a ride home Fuck it I thought I got four free Jack and Cokes out of the deal and a little extra legroomAs a critiue I found this lacking It s an observation than a judgment Of course there s disconnect between soldiers and civilians That has been true since Sumer and Elam first clashed in Mesopotamia It s clear to me or at least it seemed to be what Powers is hinting at with these scenes However he never finishes his thought His book is apolitical There are no real mentions of the machinations that brought America into Ira This is not necessarily necessary But without that background Powers scrutiny of the warriornon warrior chasm spins into obviousness It begs further exploration What is he trying to say about this gulf Were Americans hypocrites for supporting a war they knew they wouldn t have to fight personally Do we need a draft to spread the risk How do democracies decide on wars of choice verses wars of necessity The narrative implicitly raises these uestions but does not bother to grapple with them All this is not to say that The Yellow Birds is not a good book It is a good book It is not a great book This novel comes freighted with expectations It was a National Book Award Finalist It has the reuired comparisons to other acknowledged classics of the genre I don t think it s demeaning to mention that it does not clear the high bar others have set for it The prose alone makes this book worth a read It is poetic and brilliant and I could spend pages simply excerpting exceptional lines You can open a page at random and read something gripping There is a scene for instance where a mortar attack kills a medic on base Bartle and Murphy carry her bodyWe walked her past a copse of alder and willow that bowed in the heat of the small fires burning nearby their old branches lamenting her laid out as she was on that makeshift litter Our hands began to cramp with each passing step each taken with whatever reverence we could muster clutching at the edges of the boards Thin splinters roughed the flats of our palms as we walked Listing in concert with our deliberate footsteps the gentle curves of her body swayed beneath her torn clothes The boards creaked A small number of boys out on a head count stopped and turned toward us A pale review as her body ascended the gently sloping hill fringed by the bleached and spotted patterns of their uniforms We conducted her pall in earnest up the remainder of the hill At the top we lowered her to the ground and set her under a tree on the tied together boards her body now translucent and blue tinted One of the soldiers alerted the medics and we watched them as they came to her Her friends grabbed her and enveloped her in hugs and kisses She rolled absently in their loving arms and they cried out beneath the setting sunThe sun set like a clot of blood on the horizon A small fire had spread from the crumbling chapel igniting the copse of tamarisk trees And all the little embers burned like lamps to light my wayFor me this wonderful prose that nicely transitions between lofty description and dirty grunt level detail is wasted in servicing a utilitarian plot and thinly drawn characters I craved substance The Yellow Birds will have its place in the firmament Not in the all time pantheon of war novels perhaps but in the growing canon of fictional explorations of the Ira War

FREE READ Ð PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB õ Kevin Powers

The Yellow Birds

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 about the costs of war that is destined to become a classicThe war tried to kill us in the spring begins this breathtaking account of friendship and loss In Al Tafar Ira twenty one. THE WAR TRIED to kill us in the spring As green greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed we patrolled the low slung hills beyond the cities and towns We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith kneading paths into he windswept growth like pioneers While we slept the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer When we pressed onward through exhaustion its eyes were white and open in the dark While we ate the war fasted fed by its own deprivation It made love and gave birth and spread through fireI read this opening paragraph and then as I tend to do I read it out loud to my wife as she was making I wrote fixing first but then realized that was a nonsensical Kansas word supper Her response was WOW If you decide to read this book you will experience jaw dropping lyrical sentences describing the fear of combat the futility of war and the life that has to be rediscovered afterwards Kevin Powers volunteered to join the army and served in Ira from 2004 2005 as a machine gunner He was in the Tal Afar and Mosul region see map above showing the location of the events in the novel in the Northern part of the countryand that is also the same areas patrolled by Bartle Sterling and Murph in the novel Machine Gun Operator in IraPowers then studied English at VCU and went on to get his MFA in poetry from the Michener Center for writers at the University of Texas He is a poet and it shows in his prose When the mortars fell the leaves and fruit and birds were frayed like ends of rope They lay on the ground in scattered piles torn feathers and leaves and the rinds of broken fruit intermingling The sunlight fell absently through the spaces in the treetops here and there glistening as if on water from smudges of bird blood and citrus We see everything through the eyes of Private Bartle who is desensitized by the war so spiritually removed from his day to day activity that without ingrained training I wonder if he could have functioned at all Despite the fact that Bartle is shutting down aging with each new horrific experience he has these moments where he describes a scene so vividly so wonderfully that I actually felt my heart rate increase because words excite me His war buddy is Murph and though he cares about Murph there is this distance between him and everyone as if all that he experiences is happening to someone else Survival instinct or someone who has reached a limit of emotional responseMurph dies Now that is not giving away the plot because it is referenced early in the book The book skips around between 2004 and 2005 in Ira and also to the time when Bartle returns home The glue that strings the plot together is the death of Murph and how Bartle deals with the complicated aspects of that death and the aftermath Anyone can feel shame I remember myself sitting in the dirt under neglected and overgrown brush afraid of nothing in the world than having to show myself for what I had become I wasn t really know around there anyway but I had the feeling that if I encountered anyone they would intuit my disgrace and would judge me instantly Nothing is isolating than having a particular history At least that is what I thought Now I know All pain is the same Only the details are different Mosul IraSergeant Sterling is the veteran of the group an ancient 24 year old that is trying his best to survive but maybe not sure why he is trying so hard any He is a volatile man brutal and unpredictable One of those guys that make you wonder if he can ever adjust to regular society again I hated the way he excelled in death and brutality and domination But than that I hated the way he was necessary how I needed him to jar me into action even when they were trying to kill me how I felt like a coward until he screamed into my ear Shoot these hajji fs Murph is 18 signed up when he was 17 one of those statistics that made me wince every Sunday morning when I would tune into This Week with George Stephanophoulos At the end of the program they would always have an In Memorium segment that would list the deceased from Ira and Afghanistan with their ages and where they were from My wife and I would usually end up a little teary eyed every week as those names for a moment became very real for us I used to have a Marine recruiter that lived across the street from me I mentioned to him how devastating it was to see the names of these kids that were sitting in high school classrooms just months before they died overseas He replied to me that they had realized the political ramifications of that and now were holding up deploying Marines to combat zones until they turned 19 He could have just been bullshitting me He was a spin doctor patrolling the mall daily looking for kids with nothing to do as if 19 was so much better than 18 but I did notice that average ages of the deceased soldiers did spring up especially after Bush called up and deployed all those reservists Soldiers Tal Afar The world makes liars of us allObviously one cannot read a book like this without thinking about this war the causes the instigators the liars the waste the shattered lives and a secretary of defense demanding a country to go to war with that had hard targets Afghanistan was a bit of disappointment to Rumsfeld in that regard I don t want to detract from the accomplishments of Powers by spilling the vitriol of my own issues with this war This book certainly had an impact on me The two days that I spent reading passed in a fog I was grumpy and a bit detached myself My stomach felt tight and my thoughts were all weighted This war reminds me too much of Vietnam I had flash backs to that fine novel Matterhorn When you fight a war putting your life on the line you want an objective and with that objective you want to know what you need to do to win We keep fighting these wars that we can t win We kill people so somebody can put another chalk mark on a board but those deaths never get us any closer to winning Powers explains it for me I thought about my grandfather s war How they had destinations and purpose How the next day we d march out under a sun hanging low over the plains in the east We d go back into a city that had fought this battle yearly a slow bloody parade in fall to mark the change of season We d drive them out We always had We d kill them They d shoot us and blow off our limbs and run into the hills and wadis back into the alleys and dusty villages Then they d come back and we d start over by waving to them as they leaned against lampposts and unfurled green awnings while drinking tea in front of their shops People are mentioning this fine young writer in the same breath as Tim O Brien and Erich Maria Remarue I won t disagree with them I m even thinking this won t end up being his best book The promise he shows in this book has me excited about what he will do next Highly recommended with a shot of bourbon and a beer chaserIf you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews 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REVIEW The Yellow Birds

Year old Private Bartle and eighteen year old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city 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 fr. As a chaplain in a VA hospital I don t meet many former warriors who consider themselves heroes nor many who think that war is necessary There is nothing romantic or beautiful about it Some will speak broadly of their experience but only a few will talk about its horror And so I turn to literature to help me understand I think of The Iliad 1 and 2 Samuel War and Peace All uiet on the Western Front Blood Meridian Catch 22 Slaughterhouse Five and The Naked and the Dead I add to the list Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds I also bring to the hospital memories of growing up in the war zone of 1950 s America in the house of a former Marine who devoutly loved his wife and children and rarely spoke of what he had seen or done The Yellow Birds describes the conflicted duties of a combat soldier He is loyal to a disciplined brutish sergeant and a care taker for a combat buddy but he can save neither of them He returns to his mother s house in Virginia and the welcome embrace of the CID the US Army Criminal Investigation Command Listening to the Veterans and reading their stories I find myself pondering Achilles He might have returned to his native Greece his father s house and mother s homeland but he preferred a hero s death in battle The greatest warrior in all literature the ultimate soldier could never be a civilian again War had made him unfit for the company of women or children incapable of dealing with subtlety complexity or bureaucracy What did he care if the living room walls were painted beige or blue after he had painted streets in blood Could he ever tolerate the company of disagreeable persons when he had dismembered better men whom he frankly admired Every time we send our youth off to another war we think they will come home unchanged and innocent as if they ve only gone off to explore the far side of the planet But many of them will never feel at home again no matter where they go or what they do They will return to pass a kind of life on the edge of the wilderness living in shacks and trailer homes in uninhabitable flood plains and wasted hill sides They will live on disability with whatever chemicals an addicted society provides They will not tell us of their guilt grief or shame and few will find solace in literature The Yellow Birds ends with a note of muted hope and I also hope for Mr Powers that he and his brothers and sisters find healing in the arts and literature Some perhaps will find healing in religion I hope they will bring new zeal to the American experiment in democracy and finally embrace the uncertainty and insecurity of our middle class nation I hope they will teach the rest of us how to live with pain physical psychological and spiritual Mr Powers sees beauty and he often describes beauty in his writing An egret flew just over my shoulder and skimmed the water so close and I thought there was no way a body could be so close to the edge of a thing and stay there and be in control But the tips of its wings skimmed along the water just the same The egret didn t mind what I believed and it tilted some and disappeared into the glare of the gone sun and it was full of grace The Yellow Birds is indeed full of grace I recommend it to anyone who has contemplated horror and beauty and found hope


10 thoughts on “The Yellow Birds

  1. says:

    THE WAR TRIED to kill us in the spring As green greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed we patrolled the low slung hills beyond the cities and towns We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith kneading paths into he windswept growth like pioneers While we slept the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer When we pressed onward through exhaustion its eyes were white and

  2. says:

    Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds is a powerful novel which centers on a soldier fighting in the Irai War and what awaits him when he returns to civilian life in Virginia Powers’ opening lines—“The war tried to kill us in the spring”—exemplifies how difficult it is for soldiers to figure out where they fit into the dying going on around them It wasn’t other soldiers or countries or their leaders or

  3. says:

    I've put off writing this review for a few days now while I mulled the book over because something in it just didn't work for me And this indeed is a conundrum because this novel should have been tailor made for me Generally speaking I'm a fan of contemporary war novels I don't enjoy them as escapist entertainment; I take them seriously and I respect them because I want to learn I want to listen I want to know what it

  4. says:

    The Yellow Birds wins the 2012 Guardian First Book Award Review can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses AloudThe 2017 film stars Alden Ehrenr

  5. says:

    Let me tell you right now that this book is going to hurt The suffering the Irai War veterans endure in this book will touch a raw spot in you that you might prefer not to experience You will probably like me have a lump in

  6. says:

    As a chaplain in a VA hospital I don't meet many former warriors who consider themselves heroes nor many who think that war is necessary There is nothing romantic or beautiful about it Some will speak broadly of their experi

  7. says:

    The first lines of Kevin Powers The Yellow Birds announces that it intends to be a classic war novel to be placed on the shelf somewhere between All uiet on the Western Front and The Things They Carried The war tried to kill us in the spring As grass greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed we patrolled low slung hills beyond the cities and towns We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith kneading paths i

  8. says:

    First off I want to say that the problem with this book is probably with me Many deeper thoughtful readers loved it and I might have enjoyed it if I was in the mood for a book I had to really concentrate on and think about and if I had someone there to explain all the lyrical beautifully written but somewhat conf

  9. says:

    The Yellow Birds is a fictionalised account of a young American soldier’s experiences while on a tour of duty in

  10. says:

    My dad was a cold warrior serving in the Air Force from before my birth to well into my adult years Part of that time was spent ser

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.