For my final propaganda research analysis, I have chosen the media frenzy and government coverup surrounding popular NFL football player-turned-war hero Pat Tillman, who joined the Army Rangers after witnessing the September 11 tragedy only to die by his own unit. To create a more complete and comprehensive picture of Tillman, I read Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman.
Krakauer, author of both Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, painstakingly details Tillman’s character, chronicling his life through high school, college, and, inevitably, his unfortunate death. Plentifully compiling stories and quotes from Tillman’s wife, Marie, mother, Dannie, and younger brother, Kevin, Krakauer provides as authentic a representation of Pat as possible, told by the people who knew him best.
Without spoiling the multiple better-if-you-read-it details permeating the biography, I will remark on Pat’s continuous exceptionalism, respectfulness, and intelligence, as assets to the book’s heart. Tillman’s personal journal, in particular, reveals intriguing concepts and interests exceeding the NFL jock stereotype. Ultimately, Krakauer’s focus on Tillman purposely prepares the reader for abhorrence to controversial military politics during the friendly fire incident, all of which seem justifiable.
Krakauer vividly describes Tillman’s military engagements and fellow soldiers, noting their position, action, and current thoughts to increase visual understanding. Many of these thoughts come directly from the soldiers, as quoted from testimony regarding Tillman’s death. Thus, these action sequences provide an accurate depiction of unfolding events and are terrifying exhilarating and saddening, especially during the Ranger’s initial realization of Tillman’s fratricidal death and subsequent omission to family.
Krakauer is undoubtedly liberal and, more importantly, anti-Bush. At points, the biography wildly attacks the Bush adminstration’s general policies with subpar sources, concealing behind the reality of the Army’s friendly fire incident. The beginning of this biography also delves into the history of the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden’s power, and the political disruption in Afghanistan, all of which, though I have not confirmed, appear true but with a hint of liberal cynism. This may deter conservative readers, especially Bush supporters, but Tillman’s death and the government’s mistakes must be heard. Who better to announce this than political minorities?