A Poetic Look at the Iraq War
By Kevin Powers
Little, Brown and Company, $24.99, 192 pages
Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds is an intense and compelling debut which introduces a strong new voice in contemporary military fiction. An Iraq veteran with an MFA in poetry, Powers knows firsthand the horrors of war and how to thoughtfully transcribe these experiences to the page. To help navigate the battle zone of Iraq are Privates Bartle and “Murph,” two young soldiers from Virginia who become close friends. Through their eyes, we see both the boredom and ordinariness of life in a war zone as well as the violence and terror that exists in modern combat. The story alternates between deployment to Iraq and the return home to the U.S. and shows Bartle and Murph graduate from naïve new recruits to wearied war veterans. Fiercely poetic and bristling with intimacy and intelligence, The Yellow Birds is a poetic, engaging and powerful read.
Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine