book reviews

Book Review: American Sniper

American SniperAmerican Sniper

by Chris Kyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I have a couple of reviews about SEALs–Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor and Mark Owens’ No Easy Day (well, I have a longer list in my review of No Easy Day). They give flavor to what life is like SEAL‘s your job title. In Chris Kyle’s book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in American History (William Morrow 2012), I’ll tell you in this amazing man’s words what life, war, patriotism, loving America and your family and your buddies not necessarily in that order–means to the man who became a legend.

And entered everyone’s prayers when he was killed in an accidental shooting after he retired to his wife and two children and the America he loved.

Here are my favorite quotes from his book:

  • …there are a lot of people who deserve credit, and if I don’t write the story, they may be overlooked. I don’t like the idea of that at all.
  • I’m a SEAL down to my soul
  • …2009, I was lucky enough to be positioned directly in the action.
  • Great. You do it again. And again. You do it so the enemy won’t kill you or your countrymen. You do it until there’s no one left for you to kill. That’s what war is.
  • In the end, my story, in Iraq and afterward, is about more than just killing people or even fighting for my country. It’s about being a man. And it’s about love as well as hate.
  • Family may, under some circumstances, outrank Country. But it’s a close race.
  • …hit a horse? Never saw a reason good enough.
  • …limpet mine is a special charge that is placed against the hull of a ship.
  • Somehow, I managed to slip as well. My elbow flew out and landed straight on his face.
  • American taxpayers had invested considerable dollars in my education as a SEAL. I wanted to defend my country, do my duty, and do my job.
  • Our job was to secure the gate, and just because we didn’t have wheels to do it with didn’t mean it wasn’t getting done.
  • I f***** love this. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting and I f****** love it.


  • …what I saw of the overall battle was like looking at an enormous landscape painting through a tiny straw.
  • Every battle-weary man rose, went to the window, and saluted. The words of the music echoed in each of us as we watched the Stars and Stripes wave literally in dawn’s early light. The reminder of what we were fighting for caused tears as well as blood and sweat.
  • I’ve lived the literal meaning of the ‘land of the free’ and ‘home of the brave’. It’s not corny for me. I feel it in my heart. I feel it in my chest.
  • … shooting is only a small part of the job. It’s an important, vital part, but it’s far from everything. a SEAL sniper is trained to observe. It’s a foundation…
  • …important to remember that perfect circles do not exist in nature [explaining why the barrel of a gun must be camouflaged]
  • You need skill to be a sniper, but you also need opportunity. And luck.
  • …inserted on the California coast from a submarine.
  • The CO of the boat pulled us over and told us when the gang used the gym. So we went down to work out, locked the door behind us, and fixed the gang problem.
  • I have the tattoo on my back, peeking over my shoulder–as if those who came before me were looking after me, offering some protections.
  • …when your chief asks you to do something, you do it.
  • …I still hadn’t experienced the real depth of what being a father is all about.
  • …don’t have to psych myself up, or do anything special mentally–I look through the scope, get my target in the crosshairs, and kill my enemy before he kills one of my people.
  • With right eye looking through the scope, my left eye could still see the rest of the city. It gave me better situational awareness.
  • …people who have written about the battles in Fallujah mention how fanatical the insurgents were. They were fanatical, but it wasn’t just religion that was driving them. A good many were pretty doped up.
  • You cannot be afraid to take your shot.
  • Make an unjustified shot and you could be charged with murder.
  • Despite what your momma told you…violence does solve problems
  • …great bunch of good ol’ boys, warriors all.
  • Besides movies, I spent a bit of time playing computer games–Command and Conquer became a personal favorite.
  • …we were working as carpenters. It’s an honorable profession, but it’s not ours.
  • …always carried an American flag inside my body armor
  • Some people translate [Allah Inshallah] as ‘God willing’. What it really means is ‘ain’t gonna happen’.
  • No SEAL has ever actually admitted feeling pain since the beginning of Creation…
  • …If you loved them {Iraqi mothers]…you should have kept them away from the war. You should have kept them from joining the insurgency. You let them try and kill us=–what did you think would happen to them?
  • We stayed in our rooms…keeping to ourselves mostly. I spent a lot of time praying to God
  • With all hell breaking loose around me, it felt better to know I was part of something bigger.
  • We did have to haze them [new SEALs to the Team] of course. This one poor fella, we shaved his head and his eyebrows, then spray-glued the hair back on his face.
  • In BUD/S, officers and enlisted are all treated the same3: like shit.
  • …if I killed someone …I had to write a shooter’s statement on it. No joke.
  • The way things were, you couldn’t chance making a mistake. You’d be crucified if you didn’t strictly obey the ROEs.

Here are a few more favorites that use a military setting and plot to share experiences we are all of us familiar with:

If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll love these books.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: American Sniper

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    • It is unusual for SEAL books because he is so honest about his personal life and shortfalls. That warrior mentality comes at a personal price not many would be willing to pay.


  4. From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more than 150 of Kyle’s kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned legendary status among his fellow SEALs, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, whom he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

    A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust onto the front lines of the War on Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. He recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot outside Baghdad; in Fallujah, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on a street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war—of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends.


  5. Impossible to keep up with you Jacqui.
    These titles and subject matter has grabbed my attention but alas, even if I gave up sleep, I could never get to them all.
    The passion and honesty of these quotes makes the hair stand on the back of my neck. How can anyone believe so strongly. Wow.


    • You said it all!.How does Jacqui do all these, I wonder – a Wonder Woman, I guess. I’ve got to review a Booker winner historical novel [Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel] in three days and I’ve spent the whole morning reading and grasping 26 pages. Pathetic, I wish I’d her ‘power’. By the way, I love the last quote for its raw emotion and intensity of the words. Arun


      • Nice to meet you.
        I can’t figure out Jacqui. She says she doesn’t sleep. May be but I still don’t think 24 hours is enough time in a day to accomplish all she does.
        Hilary’s books are so t.h.i.c.k. Why the condensed timeline. I can hardly keep up responding to comments and concentrating on my own writing.
        I have book reviews I’d promised and can’t keep up with them either. Not enough time to read.


    • One of my personas is mom of a Navy officer and an Army geek. Through them, I get to know these amazing books, lives, and people. One of my series heavily reflects that influence–which I love.


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