Despite a million dollar football contract, his engagement to his high school sweetheart, and the opposition of his family, after 9/11 Pat Tillman felt it necessary to put his life on hold and join the fight against al-Qaeda. When asked how he would deal with the media when his Army enlistment became public knowledge, he answered, “I’m not going to.” And he never did. Despite the best efforts of politicians and the media, Tillman and his brother Kevin, who joined at the same time, never granted an interview or explained themselves to anyone but their closest friends and relatives.
Using Pat’s extensive journals and interviews with some of Pat’s friends and family, Krakauer rebuilds Tillman’s life from his childhood to the day he was killed by friendly fire in 2004, and recounts the fight to determine what really happened to him. Krakauer juxtaposes Tillman’s major life events with events happening in Afghanistan at the same time making the book a readable primer of recent Afghan history. Although the play by play descriptions of Tillman’s football games didn’t hold my interest, they might that of a football fan.
Neither the Bush administration nor the American media come off in a positive light here. Bush supporters might be off-put, but the rest of us will be horrified. In the Postscript Krakauer states “Owing to the convoluted, fractious, and exceedingly volatile nature of Pakistani politics, subduing the insurgent forces running amok within Pakistan presents a quandary of such apparently intractable complexity that it’s unclear how American diplomats and military leaders might even begin to grapple with the problem, let alone engineer a remedy.” Funny, I kept asking myself, although less articulately, how we could even begin to grapple with the problem throughout my reading of Where Men Win Glory. This is another great read from Krakauer, especially if you haven’t been paying attention to what’s been happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan.