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The Yellow Birds: A Novel by [Powers, Kevin]
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The Yellow Birds: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews

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Length: 241 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Remarkable for its intensity of both feeling and expression. In this book about death, every line is a defiant assertion of the power of beauty to revivify, whether beauty shows itself in nature or (later) in art. Graves, Owen and Sassoon would have recognised this war and the strange poetry it has bred. (HILARY MANTEL, GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

An extraordinary novel . . . remarkable . . . stands with Tim O'Brien's enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction . . . brilliantly observed and deeply affecting. (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NEW YORK TIMES)

A stunning achievement, visceral [and] poignant. (SUNDAY TIMES)

A masterpiece ... a classic. (THE TIMES BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

THE YELLOW BIRDS is a wonderful, powerful novel that moves and terrifies. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Tautly written and unforgiving in its depiction of the human cost of war. (THE TIMES)

I found in THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers a vivid, poetic account of modern warfare. Powers joined the US Marines at 17, going on to serve as a machine gunner in Iraq, and each line bleeds hard-fought truths. (RICHARD GODWIN, EVENING STANDARD BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

Powers has written a compassionate, poetic evocation of war and its legacy which has already been hailed as a classic of its genre. (SUNDAY EXPRESS, BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

'Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.' (ANN PATCHETT, Orange Prizewinning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder)

'Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual.' (DAMIAN LEWIS, star of Homeland and Band of Brothers)

Extraordinarily well-written . . . brilliant . . . he's just a really, really beautiful writer . . . everyone will be reading it. (ALEX HEMINSLEY, BBC RADIO 2 ARTS SHOW)

Reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable ... a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it. (CHRIS CLEAVE, author of The Other Hand and Gold)

Written with an intensity which is deeply compelling. (COLM TÓIBÍN, author of Brooklyn and The Master)

'This is a novel I've been waiting for. THE YELLOW BIRDS is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence. All of us owe Kevin Powers our heartfelt gratitude.' (ALICE SEBOLD, author of The Lovely Bones)

. . . One of those books that knocks your perceptions into new alignment permanently. (BARBARA KINGSOLVER)

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is the All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab Wars.' (TOM WOLFE, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities)

[Powers] has forged a harrowing, enormously powerful first novel . . . Powers' writing is also attentive to nature and landscape, and he manages to entertain contradictory notions of beauty and horror. Wasn't that Fitzgerald's definition of genius? (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Kevin Powers' lyrical account of war's deep impact on the individual is an important addition to the tradition of American war fiction and perhaps the first great novel to emerge from the long, intractable conflicts in the Middle East. (JOHANNA THOMAS-CORR, LITERARY REVIEW)

A stunning read . . . beautiful [and] devastating. (SIMON MAYO, BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB)

Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come. (PHILIPP MEYER author of American Rust)

And then I heard this . . . an extraordinary novel - honest painful, poetic. Powers's exquisitely drawn portrait of three young soldiers struggling in their own way to make sense of their situation gives you the real human story. (GUARDIAN)

Kevin Powers' poetic, grievously sad debut novel captures one young man's experience of the war in Iraq . . . Powers is clear-eyed and dolorous, observing the damage done, but alive to the beauty of the landscape, and the details that cement friendship in a world dominated by violence and fear. (MARIE CLAIRE)

Page after page yields unforgettable images . . . undeniably, this is an important novel by a formidable talent. (DAILY MAIL)

A novel about the war in Iraq might not usually top your reading list, but make an exception for this one . . . it's an intense, brutal and yet lyrical tale . . . Novelists from Ann Pratchett to Colm Toibin have praised its harrowing beauty. It's an elegant literary treat. (EASY LIVING)

'The most recent war is much like the most ancient, torn bodies, cracked psyches, the emotional roundelay of pride, pain, confusion and sorrow. In THE YELLOW BIRDS, Kevin Powers has delivered an exceptional novel from the war in Iraq, written in clean, evocative prose, lyric and graphic, in assured rhythms, a story for today and tomorrow and the next.' (DANIEL WOODRELL, author of WINTER'S BONE)

We haven't just been waiting for a great novel to come out of the Iraq War, our 21st century Vietnam; we have also been waiting for something more important, a work of art that illuminates our flawed and complex and striving humanity behind all such wars. At last we have both in Kevin Powers' THE YELLOW BIRDS. (ROBERT OLEN BUTLER, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

In the great tradition of Hemingway and Tim O'Brien, Kevin Powers's exquisitely written THE YELLOW BIRDS draws us in to the combat zones of Iraq: the watch, the wait ("Stay alive, Stay alert"), the bungle, the slaughter and the irreparable aftermath. (EDNA O'BRIEN, GUARDIAN)

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is a superb novel. Call it a war novel or a first novel or whatever you'd like. Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service. This book will endure. Read it and then put it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien.' (ANTHONY SWOFFORD, author of Jarhead)

Short, taut and eminently readable. With a John Updike-like hypersensitivity in rendering the mundane extraordinary . . . an extremely impressive debut - Kevin Powers is a name to watch. (TIME OUT Book of the Week)

THE YELLOW BIRDS skulks along, detached and undemanding, until all of a sudden you turn a page and find yourself weeping. (GQ, Debut Novel of the Month)

Elegiac, sober, and haunting. (TIME magazine)

It is a novel about the horrors of war made beautiful by the author's poetic language which is like handsome ironmongery, delicately strong but not overwrought . . . At one stage in the book, there's a bravura passage of stream of consciousness that may well be among the most effective lines ever written about a soldier trying to come to terms with what he has seen and done. For that alone Powers deserves a medal. (THE SCOTSMAN)

Intense, painful, excellent . . . Bartle tries to piece it all together, and his torment, which must be akin to the author's, feels like a gift. (SPECTATOR)

The author's status as a veteran of the war, and therefore a curio in the American literary world, provides an unimpeachable veracity to the novel . . . It is quite clear that he is major talent. (INDEPENDENT)

[An] unforgettable debut novel . . . [Powers has] written fiction that seems more real than the "real" thing. (NEWSWEEK)

'Powers' poetic gifts render the experience of Americans in Iraq with great emotional intensity. War has been a subject of literature ever since The Iliad. The best books transcend their time and circumstances to say something enduring and truthful about war itself. THE YELLOW BIRDS belongs in that category.' (PHILIP CAPUTO, author of A Rumor of War)

Terrific . . . vivid [and] gripping. A very much needed book. (MARGARET FORSTER, author of Diary of an Ordinary Woman)

What happens to soldiers at war? THE YELLOW BIRDS delivers answers that should rightfully unnerve us, if we're still willing - ten long years into Iraq and Afghanistan - to contemplate 'our little pest of a war.' The human cost is surely beyond any comprehensible measure, but in this haunting, unflinching crucible of a novel, Kevin Powers gives us the essence, with all comfortable, corrupting illusion and rhetoric burned away. (BEN FOUNTAIN, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk)

Beautifully written . . . This is a harrowing and pitiful story of the sad waste of war. (THE LADY)

'This book epitomises the power of the written word; the language is at once poetic and brutal, vivid and sparse. A stunning, timely and engrossing novel.' (BOOKSELLER)

What impresses most here are the mournful and melodious refrains which manage to cultivate beauty and pathos from the smothering chaos and dust. (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)

A book that will make you look good on the bus . . . a powerful tale. (HEAT)

From an opening that suggests The Waste Land to a closing that echoes The Great Gatsby, Kevin Powers has crafted one of the most beguiling and beautiful war novels of recent times . . . its soul spills out over every poetic page. (RTE GUIDE)

That it horrifies with beauty and numbs by way of sensuality is Powers' big achievement (SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (DUBLIN))

If you're looking for one of the first great novels of the Iraq war, this may be it. (CNN.com)

Extraordinary . . . beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order . . . a must-read book. (JOHN BURNSIDE, GUARDIAN)

It's a sad and deftly written story - and one that can stand tall with the great war novels that preceded it. (EMERALD STREET)

Book Description

An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, THE YELLOW BIRDS is already being hailed as a modern classic.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 657 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008MSI98C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 151 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,771 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beautiful, elegant, heart breaking. That is how best I could describe this short novel.

I am not always a fan of shorter novels but length becomes irrelevant by the end of the first page. I will not risk writing about the plot, I can safely say I have never fortten this novel and remains on the shelf of my favourites.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 wars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for my book group and didn't much enjoy it. Two reasons, firstly the subject was fairly grim and secondly I found there was too much description which went on and on a bit too much for me... I don't wish to shy away from difficult reads but I didn't feel this book found the right balance and wouldn't much recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lives up to the hype (just about).
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This really is something special. Told as a first person narrative by Bartle, 21 years old and on his first tour of duty in Iraq, 2004, this documents his friendship with 18 year old fellow American soldier Murphy - and his desperate attempts to hold on to some remnants of humanity and compassion in the midst of war.

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.
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 22 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 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.
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By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
2005. Al Tafar in Iraq. Three young soldiers are traumatized by their experiences. Private John Bartles narrates - he haunted by memories of refugees and killings, bloated bodies devoured by dogs and rats, dehumanization during battles when the fervent hope is that anybody but self will be the next statistic. For him, though, eclipsing all such painful images is the fate of eighteen year old Murph....

A harrowing read. An army marching chant concerns a yellow bird lured to its destruction. So it would seem is the fate of those depicted here. The aim is to tell it as it was, Bartle describing starkly but with a poet's eye and sensitivity.

This short, powerful novel provokes many thoughts - the human story behind each newly reported death; the plight of those permanently maimed, both in body and in mind. Kevin Powers does not take sides, only too aware of the suffering caused for all when war is declared.

I cannot claim to have "liked" or "loved" this work, the five stars instead awarded out of admiration for the way the novel so gripped. Many other readers no doubt also emerged drained, made uncomfortably more aware of matters perhaps taken too much for granted.

Recommended.
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