My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I remember hearing about Pat Tillman and his decision to join the army after September 11, 2001. I had no idea at the time that I was just another unassuming American being sold on a war by the US Government and the US media. I am glad that on a whim I picked this book off the new additions shelf a the library.
This book was absolutely fascinating in two ways. The first is obvious: Pat Tillman was a remarkable man. He was patriotic and tough. He was unmaterialistic, almost anti-materialistic, and that is why it wasn’t a big deal for him to walk away from his NFL contract and sign up to be a soldier. He was loyal. He stayed with his same girlfriend through high school, college, and the rest of us his cut-short life. One of my favorite parts of Pat’s story was how he gave up a 9 million dollar contract with another NFL team way before he went to war. He was loyal to the coaches and team that gave him his first chance at professional football in the 7th draft, and he wasn’t even worried that he lost millions. But, I already told you that he wasn’t materialistic. What a breathe of fresh air in today’s stuff-saturated society.
Pat is a hero to me. He’s an unlikely hero for me. He was agnostic and almost self centered. However he was smart and confident. In reading this book he wasn’t portrayed as the selfless guy that I imagined him to be, but as a high risk junkie. I am not sure if I liked that. I know that just as this book made me non-trusting of the government and news networks, I am also now untrusting of the story teller. No one man can ever write enough to really let you know a man you never met. I will tell you this, after reading about Pat Tillman’s life, I would have loved to be able to sit down with him and discuss ideas. He was a philosophy kind of guy…always testing ideas. This is why he is a hero to me. I like thinkers.
Interestingly, Pat never wanted to be paraded through the streets as the guy who believed in the war, and this is precisely the reason I chose to read his biography in the first place. In fact, Pat was disenchanted with the war. He joined to go and find Bin Laden and kill him, and Pat was pissed when his whole first tour turned into Bush’s ulterior motives of defeating Sadam Hussein and Iraq. As a naive American, I never knew that warheads were made up by our government just to use the 9/11 opportunity to defeat a country we felt was a threat. But, Iraq was never a terrorist threat like the Taliban and Al Qaeda members harbored in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq just happened to be a convenient neighbor close enough to Bin Laden to rally Americans to attack. I finished this book, also pissed that I had been dooped into fighting the wrong war and upset that our government wasn’t more successful at finding every last terrorist and wiping them into oblivion.
The second facet I loved about this book is that it was a living history lesson. It was a lesson to me about world events that I was never in touch with. I learned all kinds of stuff about the middle east and our foreign affairs with them; things I am ashamed I never took the time to know before. The way that the story was written as a go between of a fascinating soldier and a fact telling story was especially effective at keeping my attention. I would never just pick up a daunting tell all of middle eastern events, but mixed in with the story of Pat Tillman, made it all the more fascinating and relevant, for this ignorant US citizen who tries to keep US politics at bay.
Good read. It is recommended by me for all kinds of people: People who like world history, US Politics, the National Football League, the US Military, war histories, the Middle East, terrorist plots, or just plain old philosophy.