Book cover from The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers
Book cover 'The Yellow Birds: A Novel'

The Yellow Birds: A Novel

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Author(s): Kevin Powers
Format: Book › Paperback all formats
Edition: Reprint
Published: 04-30-2013
ISBN: 0316219347
Pages: 256
Publisher: Back Bay Books
List Price: $14.99

BooksToRead Review

Kevin Powers entered the US army at the age of seventeen. For a year he served in Iraq. After leaving the army and a number of useless jobs, he went to the University of Virginia to study English. He is currently teaching poetry at the University of Texas in Austin. With The Yellow Birds, he wrote, according to many, the great novel about the war in Iraq.

The Yellow Birds is the story of the young soldier Bartle, for whom the Iraq war is a hopeless void. His endless days are full of death and ruin, but especially boredom. In a desperate attempt to get hold of his frustrations, Bartle clings to the companionship with his fellow men, especially his friend Murphy. Kevin C. Powers lets the reader be an eyewitness, guilty party and martyr all at the same time in a breathtaking book which has been translated in 16 languages already.

Book description

Finalist for the National Book Award, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive in Iraq

"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.

In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.

Book review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, Debut Spotlight, September 2012: With The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers introduces himself as a writer of prodigious talent and ambition. The novel opens in 2004, when two soldiers, 21-year-old Bartle and the teenaged Murphy, meet in boot camp on the eve of their deployment to Iraq. Bartle, bound by a promise to Murphy's mother to guide him home safely, takes the young private under his wing as they move through the bloody conflict that "rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer." Powers, an Iraq veteran, eyes the casual violence of war with a poet's precision but without romanticism, moving confidently between scenes of blunt atrocity and almost hallucinatory detachment with Hemingway-like economy and prose that shimmers like desert heat. Compact and emotionally intense, The Yellow Birds joins a maturing and impressive collection of Iraq War literature--both memoir and fiction--that includes Brian Castner's The Long Walk and Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. --Jon Foro

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