NYT Reviews Jon Krakauer’s New Book on Pat Tillman


At West Point, Mr. Krakauer signed books for two hours and then took a break, sitting on a stone bench near Trophy Point, a campus landmark. Cadets jogged by; low-altitude helicopters thumped up and down the nearby Hudson River; a man in Buddhist robes examinedsome links of the chain used to blockade British ships in 1778.

“I was surprised so many people showed up for the signing,” Mr. Krakauer said. “But I couldn’t tell what they thought of the book, or even if they’d read it.” He added that he had shown the relevant parts to all the soldiers he interviewed, and that they seemed to approve. “In my mind, and in the book, I’m an advocate for the infantryman,” he said. “They’re the guys who always get exploited.” On the other hand, the officers, he said, were creatures of a culture in which certain commands were not always spelled out but nevertheless everyone knew what was expected.

“There are a lot of officers who will risk their lives for their country, but damn few who will risk their careers,” he explained. “This isn’t little stuff to me. It’s not like you lied about your expense account. This kind of deceit is endemic in the military and goes to the highest levels of government.”


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