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127 Reviews
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant
This is a superb, moving and insightful book about war and its effects on the men and women who take part in it. The author, Kevin Powers, is a veteran of Iraq in 2004 where this book is set and is now a poet. This combination of first-hand experience and ability with language coupled with great insight and honesty creates something quite remarkable.

The book...
Published on 22 Aug 2012 by Sid Nuncius

versus
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's break rank
The Yellow Birds is a novel that sets out to show the hardships of war and the conflict between personal and national concerns. It is hard to criticise novels like this without seeming to support the suffering.

OK, let's break rank.

The Yellow Birds, worthy though the subject matter might be, is confusing and opaque. Kevin Powers is a poet and it...
Published on 27 Sep 2012 by MisterHobgoblin


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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 18 Dec 2014
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
Enjoyed book very much.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars American Navel Gazing, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
Self indulgent mishmash of American navel gazing.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Yellow Birds depress, 2 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
Some would say a realistic read, I would say a depressing one. Product of a writer who seems to have been on some sort of writing course, the agonising naval gazing of the protagonist often left me losing the will to live and the episodic time shifts which were presumably intended to create suspense were laboured and trite.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 20 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
Started well, but tailed off. Pity
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truthful, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
This is a book that resonates and has power,
above all it is believable. Much of the narrative seems sparse but the language adds so much that there is no need for more explanation. The result is a novel that you want to put in front of all pro war advocates and say "first understand the cost and the pointlessness."
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a war meant to one man, 25 May 2013
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Kindle Edition)
Gripping action episodes are interspersed with life after this action in civilian life. The transition is hard, painful. The writing is tense, considered. The characterisation well handled with some development of a few players. The story is pieced together from brutal action after cautious waiting, to longish introspective passages. It's a taste of war, the power of war, the disappointment, the cost.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly excellent war novel (akin to Mediations In Green), 11 Dec 2012
By 
Andrew Sutherland "Sutho" (Surrey outposts) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Hardcover)
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The world and his dog seem to have already reviewed this book and there's been a tidal wave of hype, comparisons to Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway etc. so I'll keep this brief: As war novels go, this is excellent (and I've read a few). The descriptions of Iraq are amazing, but I particularly liked the fact that a good deal of the `action' is actually set away from the battlefield and tackles the legacy of war for the individual - reminding me of another excellent war novel, Mediations In Green or, more recently, say, Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, well written book., 1 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Hardcover)
Plenty of descriptive reviews here. so unnecessary to detail further. This is a harrowing & powerful tale & it's obvious from reading that the author is well acquainted with the story matter.
A well deserved 'Guardian First Book of 2012' accolade!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bartle and Murph - "Ah Bartle, ah humanity", 15 Nov 2012
By 
Timothy J. Bazzett "BookHappy" (Reed City, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Hardcover)
Kevin Powers' much-talked-about first novel, THE YELLOW BIRDS, is a very disturbing look at the Iraq War, variously referred to by its narrator as "a sh***y little war" and "our little pest of a war." The story is told by Bartle, John. An odd choice of names perhaps, unless you are familiar with Herman Melville's 19th century tale, "Bartleby the Scrivener." A 'scrivener' is one who writes, or records things. Young John Bartle, a damaged veteran of the Iraq war, is living in a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains and is recording his own story, as well as that of his even younger (18) ill-fated army comrade, Daniel Murphy.

Novels of war seldom end well, and THE YELLOW BIRDS does not deviate from that rule. Powers tells his tale artfully, with a sure sense of pacing and plot. But the characters here are what get your attention and hold it. There is Sterling, the battle-hardened veteran sergeant, who is only a few years older than Bartle. If one wonders about his importance or significance to his young disciples, there is an early hint in the following scene -

"He waved us to him and took a piece of pound cake from the cargo pocket on his trousers ... He broke the dry cake into three pieces. 'Take this,' he said. 'Eat.'"

And again, much later in the book -

"And Sterling? The truth is he cared nothing for himself ... His life had been entirely contingent, like a body in orbit, only seen on account of the way it wobbles around its star. Everything he'd done had been a response to a pre-existing expectation. He's been able to do only one thing for himself, truly for himself, and it had been the last act of his short, disordered life."

And then there's 'Murph,' a boy really, even in his smallness. He is an innocent, a fugitive from a Virginia mining town, a diminutive Daniel in the merciless and dangerous lions' den of war, but unlike the Biblical figure, there is no miracle to save him. Murphy's Law rules.

But it is the narrator, Bartle, who will remain in your memory the longest. The scrivener, trying futilely to make sense of it all, he writes it down -

"... really, cowardice got you into this mess because you wanted to be a man and people made fun of you and pushed you around in the cafeteria and the hallways in high school because you liked to read books and poems sometimes and they'd call you f*g and really deep down you know you went because you wanted to be a man and that's never gonna happen now and you're too much of a coward to be a man and get it over with ..."

Despairing, Bartle watches his small friend Murph, unravel, give in, succumb to the sheer awfulness of the constant killing and death that surrounds him; feels responsible, yet helpless. Even his Sterling leader can't help them. In the end I could only think of Melville's Bartleby, surrendering to the pointlessness of his work and refusing to continue with it, telling his employer only: "I would prefer not to."

Ah, Bartle. "Ah humanity!"

The early buzz, the praise, the heaped superlatives - they are all well deserved. THE YELLOW BIRDS is indeed an important work, full of truths about men and war. Bravo, Mr. Powers.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the Cold War memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to become a classic, 7 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Yellow Birds (Hardcover)
This will surely go down as a classic alongside the likes of Catch 22 and A Farewell to Arms, and I hope it rapidly finds its way onto school and college reading lists alongside them. It should be made compulsory reading for all those who send others into harm's way. Don't expect to be happy when you've finished it, but do expect to be moved.
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The Yellow Birds
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Hardcover - 6 Sep 2012)
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