Where Men Win Glory

John Krakauer


In Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to show the complex, and uncommonly compelling figure as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death. Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell” —and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers.

Character Analysis

Pat grew up as a kid in California and he was known for being very active and playing outside as a young boy with his brother Kevin. Pat went on to play college football for Arizona State University and Kevin went on to play minor league baseball. Pat was known for his hard work in football and his perseverance. these work ethics are what leads him to make one of the biggest decisions in his life and enroll in the United States army. Tillman decided to go war because of the attacks the Taliban it was playing a game with Tillman's mind and he had to help fix it. Pat Tillman lost his life in the army when him and a fellow army ranger were standing on a small boulder yelling for them to stop shooting, while he was struck with three bullets right above his eyebrow.


Pat Tillman, it appears, is everyone's political platform. Krakauer decries the use of Tillman's life and death for political ends, then goes on to use Tillman to preach about the evils of the Bush administration. By the end of the book, I wondered if this was more about Pat Tillman's life or Krakauer's hatred of Bush.

There's even a whole chapter about the Bush-Gore election. I'm not sure why.

Outside of the political screed, I was a little irritated by the obviousness of Krakauer's man-crush on Tillman, especially the breezy treatment given to Tillman's brutal beating of a fellow teenager (I don't know about you, but I would call an assault that results in its victim requiring 5 dental surgeries a felony and an inexcusable lack of self-restraint). There are other things, but I won't go into them.

Pat Tillman, in my mind, was not a terrifically remarkable man outside the fact that he was a great athlete who was able to chase a little leather ball around a football field. Should I care that he fancied himself a philosopher?

Tillman left a lot of money on the table when he joined the Army to fight for what he believed in. So did Osama Bin Laden, who gave up an allowance of $1 million per year in order to become one of the most hated men in the world. Bin Laden, it might be argued, actually gave up a whole lot more, and achieved a lot more, than Tillman ever did. Maybe Krakauer can write a book about him next.

At the end of the book, Krakauer states that Tillman is a wonderful example of Nietzsche's Ubermensch, and implies that the USA could use more men like him. Sorry if I disagree.

The tragedy of Pat Tillman's death was the cover-up by the government and the military, and the fact that many of those involved were actually rewarded for lying. I applaud Krakauer for his efforts to uncover the truth. The information he provided was fascinating. That's why this book gets two stars.

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