Synopses & Reviews
On April 22, 2004, Lieutenant David Uthlaut received orders from Khost, Afghanistan, that his platoon was to leave the town of Magarah and "have boots on the ground before dark" in Manah, a small village on the border of Pakistan. It was an order the young lieutenant protested vehemently, but the commanders at the Tactical Command Center disregarded his objections. Uthlaut split his platoon into two serials, with serial one traveling northwest to Manah and serial two towing a broken Humvee north toward the Khost highway. By nightfall, Uthlaut and his radio operator were seriously wounded, and an Afghan militia soldier and a U.S. soldier were dead. The American soldier was my son, Pat Tillman. The Tillman family was originally informed that Pat, who had given up a professional football career to serve his country, had been shot in the head while getting out of a vehicle. At his memorial service twelve days later, they were told that he was killed while running up a hill in pursuit of the enemy. He was awarded a Silver Star for his courageous actions. A month and two days after his death, the family learned that Pat had been shot three times in the head by his own troops in a "friendly fire" incident. Seven months after Pats death, the Tillmans requested an investigation. Boots on the Ground by Dusk is a chronicle of their efforts to ascertain the true circumstances of Pats death and the reasons why the Army gave the family and the public a false story. Woven into the account are valuable and respectful memories of Pat Tillman as a son, brother, husband, friend, and teammate, in the hope that the reader will better comprehend what is really lost when our sons and daughters are killed or maimed in war. In the course of three and a half years, there have been six investigations, several inquiries, and two Congressional hearings. The Tillmans are still awaiting an outcome.
"Tillman, the mother of the late professional football player and U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman, and former journalist Zacchino collaborate for this disturbing story of a mother's desperate search for the truth of her son's death. Pat Tillman constantly defied expectations; following 9/11, he shocked his family and football fans everywhere when he quit the NFL and joined the army rangers. On April 21, 2004, while on a combat mission in Afghanistan, Pat was killed in a firefight. Although commanders knew almost immediately that 'friendly fire' was the likely cause of his death, the family wasn't told for weeks. Her suspicions aroused, his mother demanded answers, and the more she learned about the army's inept handling of her son's death, the more she was convinced that there was a conspiracy. Bereft, besieged by suspicions that the 'administration orchestrated [Pat's] death,' Tillman recounts her story bravely, but her obsession with fixing blame and her recourse to conspiracy theories compromises her credibility. The result is a troubling, uneven account that raises serious questions, but offers little in the way of insights or answers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Alongside fond memories and recollections of Pat's charismatic bluntness and self-sacrificing nature, Mary details her family's exhaustive search for the truth with the help of allies ranging from Senator John McCain to retired General Wesley Clark to numerous investigative reporters...the chilling results yielded by the Tillman family's unflagging efforts indicate that Pat's death was, at best, a result of gross negligence and incompetence on the part of the U.S. Army and, at worst, a sinister coverup by high-ranking officials willing to lie to a soldier's family and hoodwink the public in exchange for higher approval ratings." - Kirkus Reviews
To millions of people, Pat Tillman stands as the epitome of an American hero. On his way to stardom in the pros after a hugely successful college football career at Arizona State, where he graduated summa cum laude, he walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract in response to the 9/11 attacks to enlist as a Ranger in the U.S. Army. On April 22, 2004, Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in what the Administration and the Pentagon initially portrayed as a dramatic gun battle with the enemy. But in the weeks that followed, disturbing facts emerged. Army officials had been hiding the truth: Pat was killed by his fellow Rangers.
In this compelling and deeply personal book, Mary Tillman shares the story of her son’s extraordinary life and the Tillman family’s impassioned and tenacious efforts to uncover the truth about what happened to him and how our government went to such great lengths to keep the circumstances secret. Today, despite seven investigations, five of them launched largely due to the family’s insistence, what really happened remains murky and fraught with contradictions. Mary Tillman writes of her son’s brief but remarkable life and the military’s betrayal of him and his family. She paints an indelible portrait of the guiding principles that defined her son and that ultimately led him, in death, into the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
In this compelling and deeply personal book, Tillman shares the story of her son's extraordinary life. She tells of her family's impassioned efforts to uncover the truth about what happened to Pat, and how the government kept the circumstances secret.
About the Author
MARY TILLMAN is a special education teacher in San Jose, California, where she lives. NARDA ZACCHINO is former associate editor of the Los Angeles Times and former deputy editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Berkeley, California.