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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Yellow Birds
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on 12 January 2015
Smooth transaction. Fast delivery and product as expected. Many thanks.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book I dearly wish I had never read, but also a book that needed to be read. This book tells the true story of war, the affect it has on those fighting it, the difficulties in just carrying on living every day when all around you is death. Death is always waiting for you, and the only thing to focus on is getting through it all... only to find that it's never going to leave you, even when you are safely back home. War changes people for ever.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2013
A tiresome exercise in overblown poetic dementia. Sick and tired of buying books based on plaudits from watertight recommendations only to discover I've been had by the Emperor's New Clothes media merry-go-round and an arthouse author photo. Hilary Mantel gets around a bit too. It's a wonder she finds the time to write those big books of hers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2013
Well written but not what I expected. I thought the first half of the book was difficult to understand and very slow with not much happening. The second-hand half was more enjoyable and held my
attention but the story jumped about a bit so I found that I had to keep going back and re-reading in order to follow the story. Overall a good book but would probably not recommend.
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on 8 November 2014
A very good novel which is also a testimony worth reading.
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on 10 July 2014
Beautiful writing. Read it slowly for the language.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2013
It is true what reviewers say that the psychological impact of war is in evidence. What isn't in evidence is the actual war. The whole background to the war in Iraq is absent from Yellow Birds and even the war itself seems to consist of one group of US soldiers creeping up on and passing through an Iraqi village. The trauma found commonly amongst soldiers returning from war is due to what they've seen and, above all, what they've participated in. I can't say our hero earns his trauma. A mutilated body dumped in a river is hardly The Iraq War in a nutshell. It's not a book about war but a book about a young man who feels he failed a friend. Big deal. Hardly a classic and certainly not a war classic. Also I note that the book had full-page adverts in the Guardian Review every Saturday for weeks and then amazingly it won the Guardian first book award. The popularlity and relevance of this book has been bought and paid for.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2013
When I started to read this book I thought that it really wasn't my usual genre of book. However, I was so impressed with the standard of writing that I could not put it down. Can't really say what it was about, but beautifully written and a pleasure to read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2012
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
on 14 October 2012
I'm glad that I just purchased this straight away, based on reviews, rather than sampling the first few chapters. Because I would not buy this based on the opening section.
Why? - well it is somewhat rambling, both in time (before, during and after deployment to Iraq) and in subject. We gain no idea of why the author joined the army, likes the army, domestic pior life etc etc.
Instead, the objective seems to be to write the longest possible sentences, as if trying to establish credibility as an author (and no just another battle shocked semi-literate GI with a story to tell.
Example (and this is just the last half of a single sentence) : "...how in the end the weather-beaten stone is not one stone but only that which has been weathered, a result, an example of slow erosion on a thing by wind or waves that break against it, so that the else of anyone involved ends up deposited like silt spilling out into an estuary, or gathered at the bottom of a river in a city that is all you can remember."
Once the author actually gets into a structured narrative, alternating back and forth from Iraq and life after, the story-telling is rather good.
But the first few chapters put me in mind of that line from Monty Python & the Holy Grail : 'Get on with it!'.
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