The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds Summary

Finalist for the National Book Award, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive in Iraq.

"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.

Book Reviews

Emmet Aloysius

Disappointing2 star

This book had great potential but gets bogged down with forced phrasing, long winded sentences, strange descriptions, convoluted thoughts, difficult terms/vocabulary etc., which make this book hard to follow at times and therefore a struggle to read and enjoy. There is a good story lurking underneath all the layers of philosophy and observation but it tends to get buried. I see the author is a poet too so it helps me understand the conflict here as I generally do not enjoy poetry. I can see why some critics thought this was a great book as they are probably way smarter and more well read than I am...EAF25


Powerful and haunting5 star

The author's beautiful, exceptionally moving use of language, his modicum of words, and his fluency of expression make this a stunning debut as well as a powerful statement about both the coming of age of a young soldier and a testament to the brutality of this case, the Iraq war. I dare you to read this and not be emotionally involved.55


Cousin5 star

His book is so good and he is my cousin.55

Girl with goggles

Yellow Birds2 star

This was a painful book to read. I'm not sure if it was entirely the subject matter, which was tough going. Part may have been that this is the first book I read online. I didn't quite feel that I was reading a book, missing turning real pages. It will be a while before I read more about these wars and the harrowing repercussions for the men who fight there.25


The Yellow Birds4 star

This story was a tiny window into the bleakness our fellow Americans experienced during their time in Iraq. Kevin Powers presents a moment of self reflection through characters who represent small fragments of our own being. I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a pleasure reading, and trying to understand in the smallest form the experience the men and women of the United States armed services went through. Regards, M7R.45

Grunt 22

Where is our farewell to arms?2 star

If you are looking for the past decade of war's great novel, this is not it. Someone needs to tap into the true themes of Iraq and Afghanistan and how we soldiers who lived it face society throughout the deployments. The dreariness and doomed nature of the characters smells like Vietnam.25


successful on many levels5 star

As an Iraqi war vet this novel works as a piece of fiction tying together many different experiences. There are no "drugs", just some very young men trying to make sense of the very bad place we as Americans have put them in. The characters are human, flawed and noble, not some disposable action figures. The staggeringly high level of veteran suicides is clearly understandable after you read this novel. Recommend reading for anyone with any sense of humanity or compassion. If you lack these please do yourself a favor and read something else. Seriously.55


Fair at best2 star

Maybe it happened maybe it didn't. The author grabs you tightly and then let's you go too loosely. Could be non fiction probably would have been a better read if it had been. He served in Iraq why not write about his truest experiences there?25


Should be required reading for every American5 star

This book is haunting and beautiful and will move you and change you. It's unforgettable. Brilliant. A must read.55

Jeff Rudell

Stunning5 star

The book is, by turns, horrifying and beautiful. A decidedly anti-Hollywood take on the portrayal of war that is nevertheless sweeping in emotional scope and vividly drawn. I highly recommend it to readers.55

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