American Sniper
Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
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Buy *American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History* by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice online

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
448 pages
January 2013
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Kyle's story will overwhelm you with its honesty and directness. For 10 years, from 1999 through 2009, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle accounted for more confirmed kills than anyone else in the history of the United States military.

The Pentagon put the number at 150--beating the old record by 41--but officially they refuse to make the exact number known. Iraqi bad guys were terrified of Kyle and his guns and nicknamed him al-Shaitan ("The Devil") and placed a bounty on his head. The enemy feared him, but his fellow SEALS, U.S. Army soldiers and Marines gave him major props for taking out insurgents.

Kyle talks about learning to shoot while going on hunting trips with his father in Texas, then becoming a champion saddle-bronco rider. After witnessing the horror of 9/11, he decided to join the Navy and soon participated in the carnage that was being fought under the moniker the War on Terror. He fought in Fallujah, Baghdad, and Ramadi and is almost casual in describing the act of killing another human being he'd never met. Here is one of Kyle's accounts.

"I've already described what it felt like to take my first sniper shot; there may have been some hesitation in the back of my mind, an almost unconscious question: Can I kill this person?

"But the rules of engagement were clear, and there was no doubt the man in my scope was an enemy. It wasn't just the fact he was armed and maneuvering toward the Marines' positions, though those were the important points for the ROEs. Civilians had been warned not to stay in the city, and while obviously not everyone had been able to escape, only small handfuls of innocents remained. The males of fighting age and sound minds within the city limits were almost all bad guys. They thought they were going to kick us out, just as they supposedly had kicked out the Marines in April.

"After the first kill, the others came easy. I don't have to psych myself up, or do anything special mentally--I look through the scope, get my target int he crosshairs, and kill my enemy before he kills one of my people.

"I got three that day; Ray got two."
The entire book is written in this matter-of-fact fashion, and it makes for a believable tale. There are moments of bravado--deservedly so--but what comes across is a young man who loved his country, loved his fellow SEALS, and quite honestly loved doing what he did.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2013

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