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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,019 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Powers Narrator: Holter Graham Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781619690318
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A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive.

“The war tried to kill us in the spring.” So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training, when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for.

In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him, and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The book is so heartfelt and so good that it not only reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable, but also asks serious questions of a generation of writers--myself included--who have thus far avoided addressing these disastrous wars directly. Reading The Yellow Birds I became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard. Impeccably structured and told with the poetry of a master, I often had to put the book down, close my eyes and savour the depth of the writing. Comparisons with Hemingway will be inevitable because of the brevity and economical style, and with Cormac McCarthy because of the author's talent for landscape. But Powers builds on this literary foundation to create a style of his own. He writes without hauteur, and his insights into the post-traumatic condition have a degree of sharpness that frequently subvert the classical mode of his storytelling and leave the reader with heart hammering. This is a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it. Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee
  • Compelling, brilliantly written, and heart-breakingly true, The Yellow Birds belongs in the same category as Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come. Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust
  • Kevin Powers' The Yellow Birds is written with an intensity which is deeply compelling; every moment, every memory, every object, every move, are conjured up with a fierce and exact concentration and sense of truth. The music of his prose has an exquisite mixture of control and then release which mirrors the action of the book, and the psychological and physical pressures under which the characters are placed. Colm Toibin
  • The book is so heartfelt and so good that it not only reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable, but also asks serious questions of a generation of writers--myself included--who have thus far avoided addressing these disastrous wars directly. Reading The Yellow Birds I became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard. Impeccably structured and told with the poetry of a master, I often had to put the book down, close my eyes and savour the depth of the writing. Comparisons with Hemingway will be inevitable because of the brevity and economical style, and with Cormac McCarthy because of the author's talent for landscape. But Powers builds on this literary foundation to create a style of his own. He writes without hauteur, and his insights into the post-traumatic condition have a degree of sharpness that frequently subvert the classical mode of his storytelling and leave the reader with heart hammering. This is a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it. Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee
  • Compelling, brilliantly written, and heart-breakingly true, The Yellow Birds belongs in the same category as Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come. Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust
  • Kevin Powers' The Yellow Birds is written with an intensity which is deeply compelling; every moment, every memory, every object, every move, are conjured up with a fierce and exact concentration and sense of truth. The music of his prose has an exquisite mixture of control and then release which mirrors the action of the book, and the psychological and physical pressures under which the characters are placed. Colm Toibin
  • “The All Quiet on the Western Front of America’s Arab wars.”

    Tom Wolfe

  • “This is a novel I’ve been waiting for. The Yellow Birds is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence.”

    Alice Sebold, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “Reading The Yellow Birds I became certain that I was in the presence of a text that will win plaudits, become a classic, and hold future narratives of the war to a higher standard…A superb literary achievement.”

    Chris Cleave, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds is written with an intensity which is deeply compelling; every moment, every memory, every object, every move, are conjured up with a fierce and exact concentration and sense of truth.”

    Colm Tóibín, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service. This book will endure. Read it and then put it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien.”

    Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead

  • The Yellow Birds is harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.”

    Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author

  • “We haven’t just been waiting for a great novel to come out of the Iraq War, our twenty-first-century Vietnam; we have also been waiting for something more important, a work of art that illuminates our flawed and complex and striving humanity behind all such wars. At last we have both in Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds.”

    Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “A remarkable first novel…The Yellow Birds is brilliantly observed and deeply affecting: at once a freshly imagined bildungsroman about a soldier’s coming of age, a harrowing story about the friendship of two young men trying to stay alive on the battlefield in Iraq, and a philosophical parable about the loss of innocence and the uses of memory…Extraordinary.”

    New York Times

  • “Compelling, brilliantly written, and heartbreakingly true, The Yellow Birds belongs in the same category as Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come.”

    Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust

  • “Kevin Powers has delivered an exceptional novel from the war in Iraq, written in clean, evocative prose, lyric and graphic, in assured rhythms, a story for today and tomorrow and the next.”

    Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone

  • “This moving debut from Powers (a former Army machine gunner) is a study of combat, guilt, and friendship forged under fire…Powers’ style and story are haunting.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Thoughtful and analytical, the novel resonates as an accurate and deeply felt portrayal of the effects of post-combat syndrome as experienced by soldiers in the disorienting war in Iraq.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A novel about the poetry and the pity of war…Powers writes with a rawness that brings the sights and smells as well as the trauma and decay of war home to the reader.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2012
  • Selected for the September 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2012 Guardian First Book Award
  • A 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2013 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award
  • A 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 National Book Award Finalist
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Larry | 2/4/2014

    " An amazing first novel about the Iraq war, reminiscent of Tim O'Brien. The book is a spare, lyrical meditation on decent people collapsing under the weight of indecent circumstances. Don't be fooled by its slim appearance. The narrative is jarring and dislocated, like the experience of the soldiers under duress on the battlefield and the home front. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barb | 1/31/2014

    " This fictitious story, written by a veteran, of one soldier's Iraq war experience is heartbreaking.However,the language is vivid and poetic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 1/31/2014

    " Hauntingly beautiful. It sort of reads like a poem in chapter form. The tedium, suffering, and trials of war come alive- painfully so- in these pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian Grover | 1/26/2014

    " I felt like this book didn't really deliver on the extremely high potential of the subject matter. Could have used some more time "in the trenches", and certainly could have cut the chapter where he goes to the brothel in Germany. Was a first book for this author, and reads like one. Not bad, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hilary Cable | 1/20/2014

    " I loved this book about a soldiers serving in Iraq. The characters are riveting. If you're looking for a real-life look at life in Iraq for young soldiers, this will give you a chilling look. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 José Paulo | 1/17/2014

    " Powerfully written novel, flawed here and there, but those small flaws can be noted at all just by the excellence of the overall work. Excruciatingly beautiful prose in many, many pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenn | 1/16/2014

    " Should be required reading for national politicians so they understand the true cost of war. A haunting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Masah | 1/10/2014

    " Exquisite writing but the overall story was mediocre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 C. Murphy | 12/28/2013

    " His writing style is breathtaking. I re-read many passages over and over. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 12/26/2013

    " Clearly heartfelt and incredibly earnest. A little too much Hemingway in his past for me. Read for work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 12/16/2013

    " This the first book I have read about the Iraq War. It is disturbing and powerful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie | 12/7/2013

    " A quick fictional read about the live of a solider in Iraq and his struggles upon returning home. It is the author's first novel which was evident by some of the prose but overall a good read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaybee | 11/28/2013

    " Finely crafted and well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia Blaya | 11/14/2013

    " What a heartbreaking story. - war is he'll and destroys not only the soldiers lives but countless others attached to these young service people! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mkschrag | 7/28/2013

    " Moving story about the horrors of the war in Iraq. The author is extremely gifted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Willem De wijs | 1/31/2013

    " It lets you feel the horror of war in a very intense way. Beautiful! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Benjamin | 1/29/2013

    " The next time I see a soldier and think or say "Thank you for your service." I will have a better understanding of what that actually means. The Yellow Birds is a very expressive telling of the effects of war on two young men. Powerful read. "

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About the Author

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar.

About the Narrator

Holter Graham, award-winning audiobook narrator, has appeared in many films, including Fly Away Home, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive, and Hairspray. His television credits include Army Wives, Wasted, Damages, and Law & Order, among others. Graham is the winner of twelve AudioFile Earphones Awards.