Journalism at its best, as Krakauer rescues a worthy role model from the politically-motivated banality to which the mass media reduced him. His telling makes one feel the loss of Pat Tillman – and the Defense Department’s subsequent cover-up of the fact it was friendly-fire that killed him – as a visceral, personal tragedy. His extensive attributions and quotations of the perpetrators’ self-justifications convincingly assure that this is not a hatchet job. What it is, is one more example of the random wastage of a nation’s greatest resource, with no point or benefit in the instance, whatever one’s opinion of the validity of the cause which has been proclaimed.
Especially poignant is Krakauer’s treatment of the moment of Tillman’s death – a passage which cannot be read without pausing for tears and an acknowledgment of the ubiquity of death and injustice. Equally moving is the plight of Marie Tillman, Pat’s widow, who seems condemned to live on, knowing how unlikely it is she can ever match the heights of love and joy she shared with Pat.
Painfully-effective storytelling, and a service to both the protagonists and the wider community.