- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 5 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 Sept. 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0097S7URM
The Yellow Birds Audio Download – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audio Download, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
The book is narrated in the first person by private John Bartle on his first tour of duty in Iraq. The language is heightened throughout, often poetic and sometimes almost hallucinatory. The timescale moves between his time in Iraq, his pre-tour training and his homecoming and after. The story is really that of Bartle's psychological journey and is quite stunning in its evocation of the war itself and of the state of mind of the young man who went through it. It is deceptively quiet in tone with even the violent action (of which there is relatively little) described without hysteria, and this lends it a remarkable power to convey things like fear, exhaustion, the rush of excitement and the dreadful problems of reintegrating once home.
All this may sound forbidding, turgid or preachy but it isn't at all. This is an engrossing, readable book which is quite short but has immense impact and which will stay with me for a very long time. I think this genuinely belongs among great war books such as All Quiet On the Western Front and Dispatches. I could give a long list of examples of how thoughtful, insightful and honest it is, but I will just say that I recommend that you read it. It is truly exceptional and you will never forget it.
This is a beautifully-written novel which recounts the brutality of war in lyrical, almost poetic style. From the opening, War itself is personified as something with an agency and life of its own. I really liked that this is, in lots of ways, a quiet novel - it's not full of daring action, or obvious set pieces - though the central `event' which the narrative seems to almost want to shy away from, is appropriately violent and heart-rending.
While this is set in Iraq, it's a novel about war in more general and conceptual terms, and eschews localised politics for a depiction of the way in which combat ravages the spirit, striving to strip men of what makes them human. The only victory in this book is that Bartle resists giving in to violence, cruelty and inhumanity, and maintains a sense of care and very human sympathy.
The descriptions of Iraq as Ninevah give this a mythic air at times, and help to ground the book away from the specific. This isn't always an easy read in that it's painful and heartfelt - but it is an outstanding one.
Harrowing and beautiful, this is the sort of novel which deserves to win literary prizes - highly recommended.
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 shows. Much of the narrative feels overwritten; floweriness for its own sake. It appeared inauthentic to put these words into a soldier's first person narrative. I know that Kevin Powers is a war veteran himself so the voice is technically authentic, but the trouble is, it just doesn't convince. It doesn't feel like a narrative from the heart.
So what is the story? That's a good question. We have a soldier, John Bartle, who enlists for various personal reasons, chief of which is to prove to himself and others that he is not a coward. So far so good. And in the army, he fights alongside various colleagues including Murph and Sergeant Sterling. Alas, the short novel doesn't really allow much space for characterisation; they are really just ciphers. The details of the war are well done and convincing but it soon becomes clear that there are multiple stories, not all of which can be true. Some of these stories are just in John Bartle's mind or in his dreams. This is at best confusing and at worst frustrating. I guess there is some kind of deep metaphor at work, but as so often with poetic novels, one soon tires of trying to work it all out. The law of diminishing returns and all that.
And there is plenty of navel gazing too, particularly in the sections set in 2006 away from the Iraqi battlefields.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A soldier's experiences in Iraq. Some powerful and vivid writing, highly rec for readers of first-person accounts of what it's like to fight in recent warsPublished 1 day ago by Jennie Ensor
Like some other reviewers, I was initially blown away by the beauty of the writing of this astonishing first novel, and also like them, towards, the end, found it a bit much;... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Frances Stott
Disturbing but well written. War is madness and soldiers return dammaged.Published 5 months ago by David Doyle
Will not be reading again.....not because of the book itself....but the subject.......Published 5 months ago by halfwelshdragon
This is the story of a young American soldier, John Bartle. The author served in Iraq and based the novel on his experience. Read morePublished 7 months ago by gerardpeter
This is the pain of war, fear and bravado shown for the hollow charade that they are. A mental challenge.Published 8 months ago by M. Mccrindle