The novel The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers is the haunting story of a US veteran of the Iraq war. Having returned from the war profoundly damaged emotionally, Private Bartle, who was just twenty-one when he went to Iraq and befriended eighteen-year-old Private Murphy, can refer to the horrors only obliquely at first. As the novel progresses, however, the reader begins to understand just how devastating war is, for everyone, including the families at home. No one escapes undamaged. There is the irony throughout The Yellow Birds that the atrocities and emotional devastation are recounted in gorgeous, lyrical, but fierce, prose. I was reminded of Tim O’Brien’s stories of the Vietnam war — that the only way to survive the war is to be “crazy.” Highly recommended.