In 2002, when Pat Tillman left a lucrative career in the NFL at the peak of his athletic prime to enlist in the Army, many journalists, sports fans, politicians, and ordinary people took notice. Since Pat refused to do any media interviews regarding his decision, the public was left to merely speculate as to the motivation of such radical actions. In my own mind, I figured Pat Tillman was merely an uber-patriot, all-American boy who saw it as his duty to serve his country.
In this book, author Jon Krakauer uses his well developed journalist skills to uncover the depth and mystery of the background, history, philosophy of Pat Tillman. Using journal entries from Pat’s diary, and interviews with Pat’s wife and friends, Krakauer shows that Tillman was not a shallow-minded jock, but rather a complicated man with deep emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.
As most people know, in 2004 Pat Tillman died from ‘friendly fire’ while serving in Afghanistan. In the days, weeks, and months following his death, Army officers and officials attempted to cover-up the incident and spin the story to showcase Pat as an example of an American war hero. In regards to both personal details of Tillman as well as the details of his death and subsequent cover-up, Krakauer showed his strength as a journalist.
However, on several occasions, it appears that Krakauer deliberately went off-script to make known his own personal political position. Repeatedly, Krakauer attacked the Bush administration – even going into details surrounding the 2000 vote recount in Florida. On several occasions, Krakauer points out Tillman’s disdain for any attempt by the government to use his service or even his death as a propaganda point, yet it seems that Krakauer often does just this for his own political agenda. It was at these points, where this book losses its objectivity and begins to sound more like an editorial than an unbiased work of an investigative journalist.