The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
13 Feb 2013
In Al Tafar, Iraq, Privates Bartle and Murphy fight for their lives, together against what seems less like any particular enemy and more like the grueling, senseless odds of war itself. Told from the perspective of Bartle, looking back on the events of the war that most altered him, and a crime committed that he still doesn't fully understand, The Yellow Birds might be the best war novel I've read.
It is beautifully, viscerally written. The language and imagery of the book are exquisite, though the feelings and situations described are harrowing. I had to put the book down a few times, nauseated, but I always picked it back up eventually due to the engrossing story and Powers's strong voice. It was a fantastic read up until the sudden ending, which was unsatisfying—and based on the news articles I've read, a pretty unlikely fate for Bartle. While I'm sure this book had special meaning to Powers, an Iraq war veteran, I hope it is only the beginning of his work.
Good for: Fans of realistic or memoir-style fiction—and it has a lot in common with The Round House.