The Yellow Birds: A glimpse into the Iraq war

The Yellow Birds

For whatever reason, books taking place outside the first or second world war generally haven’t been able to interest me that much. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, however, was an exception, and I decided to read it on a whim.

The main character is 21 year old Private Bartle, who is fighting in the Iraq war and his experience looking out for 18 year old Private Murphy, who latches on quite early from their basic-training days, but through their experiences becomes a friend.

Powers draws on his personal experiences as a gunner in Iraq, specifically in Al Tafar, and his background in poetry, which clearly comes through in his writing. At first it was tough for me to get into, as I much prefer a story with more dialogue versus this very descriptive style, but as I became aware of the type of story being told, it made a lot more sense.

If you look at the reviews on Goodreads,  you’ll see mixed opinions on Powers’ writing, as well as his non-linear style of storytelling. From chapter-to-chapter, we jump back-and-forth from Bartle’s experiences in Iraq, to his post-war attempted re-acclimation to society. Like his writing style, I found this to be difficult at first, but as the story progressed, I found each chapter fed into the next, intertwining the two timelines and giving the reader a better understanding of Bartle’s conflicts, post-war.

In the end I was happy I took a chance on this one and though the book was small, and the story wasn’t terribly flashy, it got the point of what a soldier goes through during and after a war, and the tough decisions they must face in a chaotic environment where the wrong decision or a mistake means death, and survival is the goal of each day. I give The Yellow Birds a 4/5.

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About Sean Bailey
Social media specialist who also happens to be a tech geek that's addicted to reading, movies, music, sports and coffee. Anything said on this blog is my opinion (obviously).

4 Responses to The Yellow Birds: A glimpse into the Iraq war

  1. Circe says:

    i have the same tendency to gravitate toward world war novels, but have been meaning to pick this up!

    • Sean Bailey says:

      Worth the read. Let me know your thoughts once you’ve done so 🙂

  2. I’ve been on the fence about this one because I have heard such conflicting reports about it. This gives me much more realistic expectations!

    • Sean Bailey says:

      I can see how it would be somewhat polarizing.. but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The fact that it’s a small book should also help, if you’re not enjoying it.

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