A Sniper’s Perspective

american sniperAmerican Sniper (Kyle) is about America’s most lethal sniper, Navy Seal Chris Kyle.  It was gripping to read about Kyle’s perspectives and first-account experiences of his training and fighting in the Middle East as a highly-trained sniper.  He talks about his motivations behind his killing and how each one had to be documented and defended.  He was a skilled warrior and had a true sense of duty to his country.

I read Lone Survivor a few years ago and it made me wonder how many of our top warriors were raised in the south, hunting and shooting guns from an early age.  Both the author of American Sniper and Lone Survivor are from Texas and grew up hunting in the woods.

I thought American Sniper was made more compelling because it incorporated Kyle’s wife’s perspective, being home with their kids, while her husband was in a combat zone, unsure of if or when she would ever see him again. She struggled with his sense of loyalty to country and understood that he often put his country ahead of his family.  This, of course, is necessary for a soldier to do, when in combat.  Kyle’s wife’s perspective gave the book more of a personal touch and made it better-rounded.

I am thankful for our soldiers who feel the call of duty and fight to keep conflicts off of American soil and to keep us safe.  I am thankful to their spouses, who make so many sacrifices as well.  I was glad to read this memoir and gain better perspective.  I am grateful to our boys who fight, and to their families.

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A Wild Journey

wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Strayed) – I give this book five stars, not because I agree with all the decisions that the author made, but because she wrote with a lot of raw, honest feeling, from a place of deep pain, and she surmounted her pain and forged a way for herself, showing tremendous strength and bravery.  There is much to be admired, so I won’t delve into any tangential criticisms.

Strayed’s account of life on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)—a continuous trail stretching from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington—out in the wilderness with so many dangers and so little protection, was riveting.  Her journey was long and tumultuous, in both the physical and emotional sense.  Her hiking boots were too small, her load too heavy for her, and there were a host of other physical hurdles for Strayed to surmount.  It was also emotional as she had a lot of family baggage to overcome and personal redemption to fight for.

You would think, after a while, with so many miles to cover, her journey would become too repetitive or too lengthy to read with interest.  But that was not the case.  Each segment of Strayed’s trek on the PCT was highly interesting to me.

I enjoyed Strayed’s writing about the things that mattered and the pain and the struggles.  I appreciated her honesty.  Her writing is very vivid and true.  Some parts of this book made me sad and angry and some parts made me laugh and feel triumphant.  When she fantasized about a cold, crisp Snapple Lemonade, I wanted one too. When she described the nights in her tent, alone except for the wild animal noises, I shivered just a little.  When she hiked for days with only two cents in her pocket, and wondering if she had enough water to make it, I worried for her and rooted for her.  When she wrote about her mom dying, I felt like I was a silent observer, in the moment with her.  When she wrote about feeling vulnerable on the trail, as a woman, I felt scared for her and a little vulnerable too.

I highly recommend this book.  I can’t wait to see the movie soon, although when a book is really good I worry that the movie will disappoint.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail has never strongly appealed to me, but after reading about the PCT, maybe especially because I’m a native Californian and understand it’s rugged beauty, I would love the chance to hike the PCT someday.  But definitely not alone!  And definitely with more pocket change to buy those coveted Snapple Lemonades!