Summary

Starkly, relentlessly absorbing (at first glance), this debut comes from an Iraq war veteran who joined the army at 17. Now hes a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, getting his MFA. His protagonists, 21-year-old Private Bartle and 18-year-old Private Murphy, are sustained by their friendship, but the war they were never really prepared to fight changes them both.


"The war tried to kill us in the spring," begins this breathtaking 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. 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.

Bound together since basic training when their tough-as-nails Sergeant ordered Bartle to watch over Murphy, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes impossible actions.

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 about the costs of war that is destined to become a classic.