Nicholas Irving FacebookMichael Moore’s now-infamous tweet, in which he called snipers “cowards” while moviegoers raved about Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” showed that he never read Chris Kyle’s book. Likewise, Mr. Moore’s ignorant tweet also demonstrated that he was unfamiliar with Nicholas Irving, 3rd Ranger Battalion’s deadliest sniper, with 33 confirmed kills. Mr. Irving’s autobiography, “The Reaper,” is available now, and it is certainly worth checking out for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the profession.

What separates Mr. Irving’s autobiography from others of a similar vein is that he details quite graphically just how close he came to death on multiple occasions. Many of the other first-person accounts of America’s elite war fighters never really recreate the sense of fear that can sweep over them when death closes in. The man known as “The Reaper” doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that real deal was hovering just over his head in many battles. Contrary to what Michael Moore thinks, snipers often put themselves in great danger — and when they’re spotted there is often nowhere to hide.

It takes brains, guts, and grace under pressure to survive on the battlefield when the best laid plans fall to pieces, and Mr. Irving does an impressive job articulating that reality for readers who are unlikely to ever take one step on foreign soil.

One of the other charges of men like Bill Maher is that American war fighters tell their stories in ways that make them come across as “psychopath patriots.” This once again proves that modern American liberals either do not read books like “The Reaper” or they only read them to the extent that they can find quotes to take completely out of context for their own political gain.

Nicholas Irving is certainly not glorifying war when he says of his experience shortly after a brutal firefight:

“Finally, though, when we were waiting for transport via Chinooks, I drifted off, though I heard a loud crack go past my ear. I immediately jumped up, put on my rucksack and stood there looking around, surveying the scene. All I saw was the rest of the guys just sitting there as calm as could be. In my head, bullets were still flying; in reality they weren’t.” (Nicholas Irving, The Reaper. Saint Martin’s Press, 2015. Page 182)

There are certainly passages in “The Reaper” that, taken out of context by partisan hacks, could be used to frame the Mr. Irving as a “psychopath patriot.” The reality is something else entirely: American snipers train for years to perform at the highest level of excellence. They take pride in their work (i.e., saving the lives of their fellow brothers-in-arms and killing enemies when necessary), just as cops or FBI agents take pride in what they do for a living.

If there are disagreements about foreign policy, then late-night talk show hosts and partisan filmmakers should criticize elected officials — not the men on the front lines who are literally diving into streams of raw sewage to avoid being torn to shreds by Toyota Hilux-mounted DShK machine guns.

The charge that books like “American Sniper” or “The Reaper” serve as “propaganda” (as Hollywood actor Seth Rogen might say) is laughable. Mr. Irving highlights this quite nicely when he describes a brief meeting with a young soldier who just recently completed Ranger School:

Just before we got to the car, our CQ, our company quartermaster, a really good guy named Lyons, came up to me.

“Just wanted to make sure you have everything squared away,” he said, shaking my hand.

“Yeah. Thanks for your help with all the gear and stuff.”

“No problem, Irv.”

Behind him, I could see another Ranger standing there. He was an E4 and I could see that he was a cherry guy, freshly shaved, quiet, standing there at parade rest.

Lyons introduced us. “Sergeant,” he said, “I wanted to meet you. All due respect but I heard you killed a bunch of guys. You set some record. I want to break it. I want my deployment to be just like yours was.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Nobody says that. Nobody says that in front of a man’s wife.

Jessica stood there starting at me, looking like she was trying to figure something out, remember a phone number or something that someone had asked her for, something from her past she wanted to bring back up.

I looked at the cherry new guy, held his gaze until he backed his eyes off me, and said, very quietly but very firmly, “No. You don’t.” (Nicholas Irving, The Reaper. Saint Martin’s Press, 2015. Page 306)

If you’re looking for a compelling autobiography to read, pick up “The Reaper,” by Nicholas Irving. It may not be turned into a blockbuster movie anytime soon, but it’s still worth your time.

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it
Related: ‘American Sniper’ success prompts Michael Moore to take pot shots at deceased hero Chris Kyle

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

10 comments

  1. “The Reaper” looks like an interesting book, I may have to check that one out……between Moore’s tweets and the many posts on the crappiness in comics lately; I guess there are some that think we are not allowed to have heros anymore, whether in comic fiction or for real like the rangers and seals. A sad world if we were to listen to them, I’m glad you write from a different perspective.

    Hope the snow doesn’t nail you to bad!

    1. Thanks, Patrick. I liked this book because it was the first time one of these guys really seemed to acknowledge just how scary it can be to have your back up against the wall, outnumbered, etc. I’ve read a lot of books by SEALs, and they’re all very good, but they hardly show just how terrifying battle can be. Irving, an Army Ranger, does that better than any autobiography I’ve read by an elite war-fighter.

      On the weather thing: I had a four-hour drive out of D.C. last Friday and I went from driving through rain…to fog…to sleet…and then snow. I just had to laugh. It’s pretty bad out there right now. I stayed in all day today and I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. It’s just me, my new waffle iron, my hot tea, and my laptop for work. 🙂

  2. The Reaper sounds interesting. Good review.

    Something that disturbs me, these accusations about “patriotic psychopaths” get directed towards our military, (and towards cops,) but what these people never seem to understand is that we sent them to do a job. We did that, or by proxy the politicians we elected did it. Then we turn around and criticize and attack them for doing exactly what we sent them out to do. Sometimes it baffles me, what do people think we arm them for and send them into combat to do?

    Also, this being deprived of our heroes is a common theme that I really don’t understand. People don’t necessarily idolize snipers, first responders, or cops, but we do like to celebrate people doing their jobs, especially when those jobs are pretty intense and stressful. Over and over again, the Left side of the aisle goes after our heroes, even our comic book ones.

    1. We sent them to do a job. We did that, or by proxy the politicians we elected did it. Then we turn around and criticize and attack them for doing exactly what we sent them out to do. Sometimes it baffles me, what do people think we arm them for and send them into combat to do?

      Spot on. What gets me is that guys like Bill Maher act as if these veterans have to all comport themselves like choir boys. Yes, that would be nice if every elite warrior spoke like a junior Winston Churchill, but that’s not going to be the case. Some of the experiences these guys go through are mind-boggling, so I’m not sure why a guy like Maher then has the gall to go after them for language that might be abrasive.

      I know that these guys are flawed — just like the rest of us. But I also know that they go places few people would dare to tread in order to protect freedoms and liberties we take for granted. I’m not sure why so many on the modern American left don’t get it.

    1. Thanks for re-blogging, Truthwillwin1. I appreciate that. Once you finish the book you’ll have to give me your review.

      I think “Lone Survivor” is still probably my favorite autobiography for modern war veterans, but this one is pretty solid. Recent books by Navy SEALs are great, but I think Mr. Irving is a bit more open to showing his vulnerable side.

  3. I just played a speech from Ben Carson to a diverse class. It started off a great discussion about respect and working together. The reason I say this is because it always fascinates me that I can get a group of 30-100 students together and have a more informed and rational discussion with a group that has only seen each other for a few hours than people that work together for years. Imagine if some of the people on twitter would learn to discuss rather than focus on hate.

  4. Retired USMC Gnry Sgt. MARSOC here…Moore and Maher obviously choose to forget that soldiers like Irving and Kyle fought for the very rights that Maher and Moore use to spew their senseless bullshit. I will read Reaper and please stay watchful for my personal autobiography ” Pale Horse Rider”.. By TJ BRONSON

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