Where Men Win Glory takes it’s title from a translation of the Iliad –
“Who among mortal men are you, good friend? Since / never before have I seen you in the fighting where / men win glory, yet now you have come striding far / out in front of all others in your
I don’t think that the parallel to Achilles is particularly apt. Achilles desired to win glory for himself whereas Pat Tillman never seemed to care for glory. Nevertheless, it still describes the way that Pat Tillman lived- if there was an adventure to be had, he would have it.
This biography details the life of Pat Tillman while simultaneously chronicling the rise of al-Qaeda and critiquing the decisions made by the Bush Administration. Krakauer cannot hide his contempt towards the Bush Administration it would be impossible to write a biography of Pat Tillman without a great deal of criticism.
Pat Tillman was a fascinating human being. He possessed an incredible will to succeed and an equally sharp intellect. He was far more than a football player or a Soldier. He was not a martyr or a hero. He was a man who wanted to constantly challenge himself to be the very best he could and it, tragically, led to his death.
Al-qaeda has been a specter, hovering over America, since September 11th, 2001 but the seeds of hate were strewn decades earlier. Krakauer covers the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and discusses the factors that enabled the Mujahedeen to fight off the would-be rulers. Once the Soviets left, the Taliban began its rise to power and Karkauer weaves the narrative into that of Tillman by maintaining a mostly chronological order.
Much of the book details Tillman’s relatively short military career. Politicians tried to make him a poster boy for the War on Terror but Pat never gave any interviews and his journals reveal that he did not approve of the invasion of Iraq. Krakauer connects the invented heroics of Jessica Lynch to the cover-up of Tillman’s death. Tillman assisted with Lynch’s rescue in the loosest sense but the parallels are present and obvious.
It’s hard to tell if the book is overly critical of the Bush Administration. I fancy myself an impartial reader and I picked up on the heavy handedness of the criticism. A great deal of criticism is necessary for this topic but it seems, to me, that the authors own perceptions altered the narrative somewhat. It may be necessary and accurate but in the interest of fairness I think it is important to make the distinction.
Overall, I loved this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I get why the author wanted to tackle Pat Tillman as a subject. Tillman and Christopher McCandless, the subject of Into the Wild, are similar in many ways. The author identifies with young men like this and so do I. Tillman and McCandless both sought to live their lives the way they wanted and refused to adopt convention and normalcy. Both young men had something to prove, but only to themselves. Both ended up in situations outside of their control and paid the price. Krakauer concludes the book with “the sad end he met in Afghanistan was more accurately a function of his stubborn idealism–his insistence on trying to do the right thing. In which case it wasn’t a tragic flaw that brought Tillman down, but a tragic virtue.”
I couldn’t agree more. I hope to live my life the way Pat lived his. I think we all should.