War is ugly and grueling. Author Kevin Powers saw it first hand as a soldier in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. The book captures the voice of modern day war. This novel has received high praise and after reading it, it is merited.
The title comes from a traditional U.S. Army Marching Cadence:
A yellow bird
With a yellow bill
Was Perched upon
I lured him in
With a piece of bread
And then I smashed
His f*cking head…
Disturbing yes, but so is the madness of warfare. You would think that our advanced civilization would have discovered better means to solve differences rather than simply fighting each other.
This book reminds me of a modern version of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead where he wrote the about war that was suppose to end all wars.
What Powers does so beautifully is layer the power of humanity, the good and the bad, how the lines blur and how the will of survival surpasses what is acceptable.
The descriptive scenes take you to a firsthand view of the battle field. How these soldiers are taken from their known world into the battle ground of war and then brought back. Often these soldiers are broken, not only on the outside but the inside and come back to a world that cannot comprehend their experiences.
Poet Kevin Powers uses his skills as writers to capture this horror into a beautiful story of loyalty, friendship, and survival.
As I write these word in the comfort of my office, I am grateful of these soldiers who take on the responsibility of defending democracy in a brutal world. We are not perfect and neither are our soldiers who cope with whatever is thrown their way.
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
2012 Little, Brown, and Company 240 pp
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