The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds

Kevin Powers

Based on a true story…

When I heard whe had to read an English book I started reading a book my aunt gave me. But unfortunately I could not get through the book. When me and my father were watching a movie about the war in the Middle East he recommended me “The Yellow Birds”. The movie was about the same subject as the book and he knows I like those kind of stories about wars.


I read the quote at the beginning which got me hooked right away:

A yellow bird with a yellow bill

Was sittin’ on my window sill

I lured him in with a piece of bread

And then I smashed his little head

This book is about Private Bartle who is stationed near Al Tafar in the Nineveh province of Iraq. This book is a war novel that describes the mental sides of the war really well. In the book Private John Bartle struggles with different kinds of enemies, he somehow forces himself to become responsible for a younger guy in his squad named Daniel Murphy by promising his mom he’ll bring him home safe. By doing that he not only has to protect himself but Murph too. His sergeant warned him not to get to emotionally attached, but he ignored him. Besides the locals shooting them from every direction they also had to face the unbearable dessert heat.


During their tour in Iraq they had to fight in the dark in the scorching sun and for weeks on end, sometimes they didn’t get any sleep for 4 days. Getting high on different substances to just stay awake they watched their comrades die at their sides, because there was simply nothing they could do about it. They saw a nurse get killed by a mortar in a chapel and many, many more gruesome things.

Kevin Powers writes: “…even after the sun went down, so fucking hot that we’d joke with Sterling just to get a rise out of him. “Sarge, it’s a hundred and twenty degrees. Why don’t we surrender and go home,” one of us would say. “Shut your fucking cockholsters,”… (page 154)

The book jumps through a verity of locations and times. Before he’s shipped of, in Iraq, post deployment and back in Iraq again. Early in the book Bartle tells you that Murph dies in Iraq and he keeps on saying it’s his fault. But, he doesn’t reveal how it happens until the last 2 chapters.

Kevin Powers is an American fiction writer who is also a war veteran from Iraq. He was born in Richmond, Virginia where part of the book also takes place. He enlisted when he was 17 and was assigned to an engineer unit. He wrote the book because people kept asking him how it was over in the warzone. The book serving as his answer we can almost guess what kind of mental state he was in when he got back.

This book is great because people always think they know what’s going in the world, but they really don’t. They think war is just a bunch of people shooting and killing each other. It’s not, the war in Iraq had a lot of casualties but it mentally scarred a lot more. If you really want your own opinion on the war in Iraq I recommend you read this first because even after reading this book you still only scratched the surface of the mental war that was raging within.


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