Catalogue

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The yellow birds : a novel /
Kevin Powers.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2012.
description
230 p.
ISBN
0316219363 (Cloth), 9780316219365 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2012.
isbn
0316219363 (Cloth)
9780316219365 (Cloth)
catalogue key
8435023
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Guardian First Book Award, GBR, 2012 : Nominated
National Book Awards, USA, 2012 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2012-06-01:
This first novel by Powers traces the story of a young soldier named John Bartle and his friend Murph during fighting in northern Iraq in 2005. Sterling, the tough sergeant of their platoon, has informally assigned Bartle the job of watching over Murph, who is young, small, and not much of a soldier, and Bartle had also promised Murph's mother that he would take care of him. As the horrors of war escalate, all the soldiers seem to lose their grip, and Murph finally snaps, leaving the compound and forcing Bartle and Sterling to search for him through the nightmarish landscape of a ravaged city. Alternating with this plot is the story of Bartle's life after his return home, as he attempts to piece together his friend's fate and come to grips with it. VERDICT Thoughtful and analytical, the novel resonates as an accurate and deeply felt portrayal of the effects of post-combat syndrome as experienced by soldiers in the disorienting war in Iraq. While the battle scenes are effectively dramatized, the main character's inner turmoil is the focal point of this well-done novel. [See Prepub Alert, 3/22/12.]-Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2012-07-30:
This moving debut from Powers (a former Army machine gunner) is a study of combat, guilt, and friendship forged under fire. Pvt. John Bartle, 21, and Pvt. Daniel Murphy, 18, meet at Fort Dix, N.J., where Bartle is assigned to watch over Murphy. The duo is deployed to Iraq, and the novel alternates between the men's war zone experiences and Bartle's life after returning home. Early on, it emerges that Murphy has been killed; Bartle is haunted by guilt, and the details of Murphy's death surface slowly. Powers writes gripping battle scenes, and his portrait of male friendship, while cheerless, is deeply felt. As a poet, the author's prose is ambitious, which sets his treatment of the theme apart-as in this musing from Bartle: "though it's hard to get close to saying what the heart is, it must at least be that which rushes to spill out of those parentheses which were the beginning and end of my war." The sparse scene where Bartle finally recounts Murphy's fate is masterful and Powers's style and story are haunting. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A novel about the poetry and the pity of war...Powers writes with a rawness that brings the sights and smells as well as the trauma and decay of war home to the reader."
"Compelling, brilliantly written, and heart-breakingly true,The Yellow Birdsbelongs in the same category as Tim O'Brien'sThe Things They Carriedand Norman Mailer'sThe Naked and the Dead. Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come."
"Kevin Powers'The Yellow Birdsis written with an intensity which is deeply compelling; every moment, every memory, every object, every move, are conjured up with a fierce and exact concentration and sense of truth. The music of his prose has an exquisite mixture of control and then release which mirrors the action of the book, and the psychological and physical pressures under which the characters are placed."
"The book is so heartfelt and so good that it not only reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable, but also asks serious questions of a generation of writers--myself included--who have thus far avoided addressing these disastrous wars directly. ReadingThe Yellow BirdsI became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard. Impeccably structured and told with the poetry of a master, I often had to put the book down, close my eyes and savour the depth of the writing. Comparisons with Hemingway will be inevitable because of the brevity and economical style, and with Cormac McCarthy because of the author's talent for landscape. But Powers builds on this literary foundation to create a style of his own. He writes without hauteur, and his insights into the post-traumatic condition have a degree of sharpness that frequently subvert the classical mode of his storytelling and leave the reader with heart hammering. This is a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it."
"The Yellow Birdsis harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary."
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 2012
Publishers Weekly, July 2012
Booklist, August 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Description for Library
Starkly, relentlessly absorbing (at first glance), this debut comes from an Iraq war veteran who joined the army at 17. Now hes a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, getting his MFA. His protagonists, 21-year-old Private Bartle and 18-year-old Private Murphy, are sustained by their friendship, but the war they were never really prepared to fight changes them both.
Main Description
"The war tried to kill us in the spring," begins this breathtaking 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. 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. Bound together since basic training when their tough-as-nails Sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible actions. 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 about the costs of war that is destined to become a classic.
Main Description
"The war tried to kill us in the spring," begins this breathtaking 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. 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. Bound together since basic training when their tough-as-nails Sergeant ordered Bart to watch over Murph, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murph becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible actions. 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 about the costs of war that is destined to become a classic.

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