The Yellow Birds: A Novel
by Kevin Powers

Published: 2013-05-07
Paperback : 270 pages
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Discussion Questions

Review from Publishers Weekly:

This moving debut from Powers (a former Army machine gunner) is a study of combat, guilt, and friendship forged under fire. Pvt. John Bartle, 21, and Pvt. Daniel Murphy, 18, meet at Fort Dix, N.J., where Bartle is assigned to watch over Murphy. The duo is deployed to Iraq, and the novel alternates between the men’s war zone experiences and Bartle’s life after returning home. Early on, it emerges that Murphy has been killed; Bartle is haunted by guilt, and the details of Murphy’s death surface slowly. Powers writes gripping battle scenes, and his portrait of male friendship, while cheerless, is deeply felt. As a poet, the author’s prose is ambitious, which sets his treatment of the theme apart—as in this musing from Bartle: “though it’s hard to get close to saying what the heart is, it must at least be that which rushes to spill out of those parentheses which were the beginning and end of my war.” The sparse scene where Bartle finally recounts Murphy’s fate is masterful and Powers’s style and story are haunting.

Suggested by Members

Discuss the consequences of making promises that cannot always be kept.
Discuss the consequences of choices made by those who make them and those who must abide by them.
If you do a good thing for a bad reason or a bad thing for a good reason, is it justified?
by thewanderingjew (see profile) 07/26/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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. This is his first novel.

Book Club Recommendations

This is a book that would be very good for a coed book group.
by thewanderingjew (see profile) 07/26/13

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by nellysteele (see profile) 03/10/20

  "The Yellow Birds"by siosue (see profile) 02/05/16

Our group liked this book very much. This is a story that needs time to process, while reading the book. Kevin gave us the insight of the soldiers mind and their self conflicts they deal with on a daily... (read more)

  "The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers"by thewanderingjew (see profile) 07/26/13

Fraught with emotion, this is an achingly heartbreaking tale of war. Devastatingly honest and brutal in its images, it is hard to read without discomfort. It propels one to second guess thei... (read more)

  "The Yellow Birds"by sarasikes (see profile) 06/19/13

Darkly beautiful writing about Iraq war experience.

  "the yellow birds"by tac48 (see profile) 01/06/13

if you are looking for a book about the Iraqi war -look elsewhere the theme of this book is universal and wonderfully crafted. I believe it will be used in schools to teach prose, alongside classics.... (read more)

  "The Yellow Birds: A Novel"by mkrupiak (see profile) 12/03/12

This book still haunts me, even though I finished it two nights ago. I can't stop thinking of the characters. I think every American should read this book so you have a glimpse of what truly happens... (read more)

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