Fascinating subject matter, treated honestly and openly. A fascinating and for reasons I cannot grasp, polarizing man to many. My honest impression is that those unfamiliar with the mental and emotional tolls of conflict may be unable to understand a man like Kyle. This isn't to forgive any man his trespasses, but to understand them. But this has nothing to do with the merits of the book as a book.
The book is written in an engaging but supremely simplistic style. The ghostwriters clearly employed every hackneyed device they could think of. A dramatic prologue to expository background, which has a term associated with it that I forget at the moment is one used SEVERAL times. I strongly suspect this had little to do with the tastes of Mr. Kyle himself, and he was simply following the advice of others.
Still, his authentic voice shines through, though again, many readers or those who only skim summaries of pull-out quotes will easily misunderstand the meaning of his thoughts. At the service of better quality writing, this could have been a much better book. For those who wish to understand how our recent conflicts can change a man's world view, who better wish to understand the mentality or focus of such warriors, this might be a good, though polarizing, introduction.
But for me, books begin with five stars, shining with promise. The lack of a deeper self-reflection loses one, which isn't to say that there ISN'T self-reflection, only that I felt that more objective analysis was possible. It loses the other two purely on the merits of the writing. This isn't something I blame Mr. Kyle for, however.
I had heard of him before the book came out, and had heard about what an amazing man he was, was excited for the book, and hurt at the news of his murder. I have mixed feelings about the furor over the movie, and the many comments from talking heads about his character. I cannot believe some of the hateful things being said about him, and can only assume these people simply cannot get it. I suppose I wouldn't get mad at someone with a disability who couldn't do something that seems obvious to me, so I shouldn't get too upset with those who interpret something so wrongly because their background and life experiences make Mr. Kyle as different to them as someone living on Mars. I only wish people could find it within them to be open to how different lives make different men.
So in the end, I wanted to give this four stars, but the quality of the writing cannot bear examination. And the worst part is that you can spot where outside editors left fingerprints all over this book. The use of devices and specific grammar usages stand out like a sore thumb. This weakens the authors voice, but fortunately that voice is strong enough to still force its way through. Two stars.