American Sniper Essay

The book I chose for the summative essay assignment was “American Sniper” by Chris Kyle. This book is about the courageous and thrilling memoir of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. With over 100 documented kills during his four tours of duty, Chris Kyle has shed light on the dangerous brave life of a sniper. During his four tours of duty in the Iraq war he has come close to death and saved countless lives. He changed a lot from just being a country boy and became what he describes as a man. The war really changed his perspective on his civilian life. The significance of the Iraq war was to help free the Iraqi civilians of their dictator, Saddam Hussein, and the radical Islamic insurgents who terrorized the Iraqi’s after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The time period this book is set in is right before 9/11 and during the Iraq war (1999-2009). As he grows up in Odessa, Texas he grow interested into being a ranch manager. By becoming a ranch hand he found himself in the state of Colorado where he enlisted for the Navy a second time. He joined the Navy in February 1999 and trained to be a Navy SEAL in Coronado, Calif. The rugged challenging training he had to go through to become a Navy SEAL really showed him that it isn’t easy being a solider and that he had to work extremely hard and not give into the powerful temptation of quitting. The tough training conditions and activities really molded him into one of the best U.S. sniper of all time. Nothing he could have imagined would come close to the gruesome scarring experience of war. After serving in the war torn country of Iraq you come out a different person and as he puts it “Continually going to war, you gravitate to the blackest parts of existence.”

Chris Kyle grew up in small towns in north-central Texas. Having loved the ranch lifestyle he became a professional bronco rodeo rider. Then at the end of his freshman year at TSU a bronco flipped onto him breaking his ribs, dislocating his shoulder, a bruised lung and kidney ending his career. After being rejected before from the Marines, he enlisted for the Navy and was turned down at first but then received an unexpected call from the recruiter little did he know that call would change his life forever. After surviving and passing all of the training needed to become a SEAL, Chris was placed in SEAL Team 3 along with his friends from training, Marc Lee and Ryan Jobs. He married Taya and had a son, they met while he was off base. He finished his 10 years of military service as a CPO and receiving a silver and bronze stars as well as other awards for his contributions as well as over 100 kills.

Chris received his nick name of “The Devil or Ramadi” given to him by the insurgents when he was deployed there. They knew he was a deadly sniper and were terrified of him up to the point of placing an $80,000 bounty on him. In Sadr City he made a 1.9 km shot and killed a rocket launcher holding insurgent. He deployed to locations such as Fallujah, Baghdad, and Ramadi. “Just then, an RPG hit the outside wall right near me. Some of the building smashed into my face, giving me a couple of beauty marks and temporary tattoos courtesy of the insurgency.” He describes his close encounter with death in Baghdad after getting off the phone with his wife. “Taya had turned on the television…I saw smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center in New York…an airplane flew right into the side of the second tower.” He now describes the horrible time when he found out the depressing news of the terrorist attack on the U.S.

If I were to rate this book on a scale from 1-10, this book would defiantly earn a 10. This book for me was extremely inspiring how he never gave up even when given the chance, even when all the odds were stacked against him he stayed strong and continued on. He really explained the life of a soldier, and not the usual way we look at soldiers but showed a different side to them, one only they could fully understand. As well as the fact that he let his wife write a few pages here and there explaining the difficulties of being a SEAL’s wife really showed that he wanted the reader to fully understand a SEAL’s life and so on.

The only way you would really enjoy reading this book would be if you like reading war books and have an interest in the military. This book is a great book as well if you are looking for a book that you will absolutely not want to put down it and he explains everything that is going on with vivid details. Another pro to this book is that he transitions from all the events in an orderly way so you will never get lost and have to re-read. I do not dislike any aspect of this story at all, personally it was put together just right to create an exceptionally great war memoir.

Overall this book was truly one of my favorite war books I have ever read. It has been crafted carefully by a man who has been through a lot in his life and has stayed strong through the worst times and has enjoyed the best times of his life. Though Chris is no longer with us I am positively sure he would have continued to be the great man that he was, and his legacy will always live on. Christopher Scott Kyle truly was the most lethal U.S. sniper.

Directed by Clint Eastwood in what some may take as alarmingly short order following “Jersey Boys” (which was released only six months ago, for heaven’s sake), “American Sniper” proves the dictum “never count an auteur out” by proving itself as Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since 2009's underrated “Invictus” pretty much right out of the starting gate. Opening with a brutally suspenseful moment of decision for its titular character, Chris Kyle, the movie establishes all of the things it’s going to be about—and the things it’s not going to be about—with plain but almost breathtaking assurance.

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“Sniper” is based on a true story that got more complicated after Kyle himself told it in the book that gives the film its title. Adapted from that book by actor-turned-screenwriter Jason Dean Hall, the story begins, after its Iraq-set prologue, showing Kyle as first a boy and then a young man. A schoolyard bullying incident compels Kyle’s father (Ben Reed) to give a scary dinner-table fire-and-brimstone speech to Chris and younger brother Jeff about showing would-be tough guys who’s boss (“we protect our own”); the weight of expectation seems to jam the two boys down, and in a flash-forward to the boys as young men, they’re leading the aimless lives of wannabe rodeo stars. That all changes when Chris decides to apply to join the Special Forces (the film depicts him doing so after seeing TV coverage of the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya). As he’s developing a new sense of purpose while training, he also meets future wife Taya (Sienna Miller). Post 9/11, the war in Iraq puts Kyle to work as a sharpshooter, and the film depicts his skills in this area as almost eerie.

They were so in real life, too, as it happens; Kyle racked up 160 confirmed kills, making him the deadliest such operative in U.S. Navy history. Eastwood’s handling of various battle scenarios, including those in which Kyle is compelled to take down women and children, is typically anti-elaborate for the director. Grim, purposeful, compelling. Violence and its relation to both American history and the American character is one of Eastwood’s great themes as both a filmmaker and a film actor. But he is not a director of an overly analytical or intellectualizing bent, and this turns out to be one of this movie’s great strengths. It has nothing to say about whether the war in Iraq was a good or bad idea. It simply IS, and Kyle is an actor in it, and he’s also a devoted husband and father. But Kyle is more than just an actor in the war: he’s a true believer in what he’s doing, and his intensity in this respect bleeds into his relationships back at home in ways that can’t help but be unsettling. When a fellow soldier is killed in a raid, Kyle returns to the U.S. to attend the funeral. 

At the graveside, a relative of the soldier’s reads one of his last letters, expressing doubt and disappointment about the war. On the drive home Chris avers to Taya that what killed his friend was “that letter.” Taya doesn’t know how to respond; the viewer likely doesn’t, either, or at least shouldn’t. The role of Taya (well-played by Sienna Miller; this and her turn in “Foxcatcher” represent a release from Movie Jail for the actress) could have been another stock Complaining Military Wife in other hands. In this film, she’s more complex; she clearly knows that the qualities she admires/loves in Kyle—his rigid loyalty and sharp focus, his determination to see his commitments through—are inextricable from his identity as a military operative. But even a warrior as devoted as Kyle can’t escape being messed with by his mission. As the film continues, and the sniper’s rep grows more fearsome, the nature of his accomplishments gets messier and messier, and by the time the sniper has completed his tour, the viewer has good reason to be a little, or more than a little, frightened by the guy. But Taya is not. This puts the whole story on an oddly suspended note that, as it happens, is resolved by a real-life ending that’s not very Hollywood.

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Star Bradley Cooper does some of his best acting ever here. Bulked up to make himself resemble, with respect to body shape, a large-scale nine-volt battery, Cooper suppresses the actorly knowingness he’s brought to most of his prior screen roles and gives his character here a simultaneous credulousness and edge. He feels like a dangerous guy—but not a malicious one. His lack of self-doubt never comes off as alienating in its steadfastness, even at moments when it seems like it’s misplaced, as when Kyle finds out for the last time that he can’t really be his brother’s keeper. Moments such as that one, and they are strewn throughout the movie, are what make “American Sniper” one of the more tough-minded and effective war pictures of post-American-Century American cinema.


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