1. What aspects of Jon Krakauer's narrative style make his
telling of Pat Tillman's story especially powerful?
2. After Tillman died, a copy of Jon Krakauer's Eiger
Dreams, a book about eccentric mountain climbers, was found in
his backpack. He had also read and admired Into the Wild
and Under the Banner of Heaven. Why would Tillman be drawn
to Krakauer's writing? Why would Krakauer be drawn to write about
3. What made Tillman such an unusual football player, both on
and off the field? What stereotypes did he defy and transcend?
4. What are Pat Tillman's most admirable qualities?
5. In what ways did Tillman's time in jail change him?
6. What role did Tillman's idealism and personal code of ethics
play in his death? Is Krakauer right in suggesting that it was
Tillman's "stubborn idealism-his insistence on trying to do the
right thing" [p. 406344] that brought him down?
7. Krakauer writes that "The juxtaposition of Pat's
vulnerability with his fearlessness and self-assurance is not an
easy thing to wrap one's mind around, but it was an absolutely
central aspect of his personality" [p. 7363]. What instances in
Tillman's life reveal this unlikely combination of character
traits? How is it possible to wrap one's mind around it? Why are
these traits so rarely joined in a single person in American
8. Imagine the conversation that Tillman and Noam Chompsky would
have had if their meeting had taken place. What might they have
talked about? How might they have regarded each other?
9. What made Pat and Marie's relationship so special? In what
ways does the depth of their bond make Tillman's death even more
10. Krakauer begins Part Two of Where Men Win Glory
with an epigraph by Chris Hedges: "War is always about betrayal,
betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics and of
troops by politicians" [p. 153133]. In what ways and by whom,
specifically, was Pat Tillman betrayed?
11. Discuss the events that led to Tillman's death by friendly
fire 248-281and assess for yourselves who should have been held
responsible for Tillman's death and what the appropriate punishment
should have been. What Aarmy protocols were broken in the lead- up
to, and during, the firefight? What protocols and regulations were
broken in the immediate aftermath of Tillman's death?
12. As revealed in Where Men Win Glory what crucial
mistakes has the United States made in its decades-long involvement
in Afghanistan? What have been the consequences of these
13. While stationed in Iraq, Tillman wrote in his journal: "My
hope is that decisions are being made with the same good faith that
Kevin and I aim to display.... I hope [this war is about] more than
oil, money, & power.... I doubt that it is" [p. 196169]. What
experiences are most responsible for changing Tillman from a
patriotic and somewhat naive idealist to a sober-eyed realist?
14. When Tillman was killed, Krakauer writes, "White House
perception managers saw an opportunity not unlike the one provided
by the Jessica Lynch debacle thirteen months earlier" [p. 349295].
How did the "perception managers" in the Bush administration
respond to Tillman's death? How did they use it to their advantage?
What are the similarities between their handling of Jessica Lynch
and Pat Tillman?
15. Discuss the ironies that emerge from the fact that Pat
Tillman's personal code of courage, honor, honesty, and integrity
was used so cynically and deceitfully by the Bush administration to
further its own agenda.
16. How did Tillman's family react to Pat's death and to the
White House cover-up of how he died? What positive results have
come from the Tillman family's response to Pat's death?
(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign
up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit