Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Semper Fi, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. Semper Fi

    Semper Fi VIP Member

    Nov 25, 2003
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    Had to write a review for school. Enjoy!

    Shooter: Hit or Miss

    The book, Shooter by Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005, is one that struck the war novel world with some force. Many of times, often in airports, people can be found with their eyes gazing into a book, concealed by a very attractive cover art. However, it can be argued that the cover art is the best part of the book. I myself, however, thought the book was, well, hit or miss, depending on the reader’s preferred style.

    Shooter chronicles the career of Marine noncommissioned officer Staff Sgt. Jack Coughlin and his highlights holding the prestigious position of sniper. One can be very critical that Coughlin was insubordinate and blatantly rude to his superiors, and often times thought of himself as an officer. However, once a fair amount of pages are turned, Coughlin emerges as a more rounded character, as do the other characters Coughlin encounters. “Officer Bob,” an officer whom Coughlin particularly dislikes—and for good reason—is portrayed as an obviously flat character, possessing no real abilities other than making Coughlin’s life increasingly miserable. However, then Lt. Casey Kuhlman emerges as a dynamic character, as when the Marine battalion approaches Baghdad, Iraq, he becomes a much more vicious and aggressive sniper than he had been. The commander of Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment is Lieutenant Colonel Brian McCoy (chronicled in McCoy’s Marines by John Koopman), whom Coughlin and his sniper team is attached to. McCoy and Coughlin have a history of not exactly “clicking,” and McCoy can be interpreted as a symbol of Coughlin’s struggle in the Marine Corps.

    For years, Coughlin had an idea that would revolutionize the affect of snipers on the battlefield. The traditional role of snipers was to get to a position, and stay there for hours on end, perhaps making one or two key shots. Coughlin hated this idea, and the dream of his Mobile Sniper Strike Team was born. He envisioned himself and three other snipers on wheels, free to roam throughout the modern battlefield; driving, stopping, shooting, driving, stopping, shooting, and so forth. McCoy, however, had a more conservative view on the actions of a sniper, perhaps amplified by his dislike of Coughlin. Soon enough, McCoy would realize the effectiveness of Coughlin’s idea and it would be put into action in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coughlin gives little history about himself, and barely recognizes his family. It could be argued in defense of this that Coughlin was trying to build a reputation with the reader that he was a cold-blooded and emotionless killer, and that he could look through his scope and a man and morally pull the trigger on his life. Those walls tumble down, as if to amplify the emotional impact the Desert and the war have on him- and his family. To his peers, Coughlin is still emotionless, but with the ability to complain about everything, but to the reader, he is human.

    Compared to McCoy’s Marines by John Koopman, which was written by an embedded journalist (also mentioned in Shooter), Shooter can hold its own. Both books are about the same subject, same time, and same people, but told through different perspectives. For an authentic and no bologna report, one could look to Shooter. For a relaxed and outsider account, one could look to McCoy’s Marines. I would suggest reading them both and comparing them, as it is very interesting to see the variations in characters and events through military and non-military eyes.

    Conclusively, Shooter hits the target. The pages melt away as the reader envelopes him or herself in an account of unparalleled experience, direct from the mind of the ‘top ranked Marine sniper’. If you are looking for an honest and upfront book about the trip from Kuwait to Baghdad in 2003, Shooter by Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin may just be what you’re looking for.

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