Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
They fall under the spell of Sargent Sterling, a hero of the first Gulf War. Sterling is a warrior so perfect that commanders want to put him on recruitment posters. Bart soon discovers Sterling’s darker side.
Bart’s world start crashing the minute he promises Murph’s mother he will look after Murph who is only 18. Sterling immediately tells him the bitter truth: “People are going to die…It’s statistics.”
Throughout the novel, individuals do not want to be responsible for anyone else. Even though Sterling says these are “his” men–he trains and prepares them for battle–he does not want to be responsible for their psychological state.
After Murph goes AWOL, Sterling and Bart take matters in their own hands. Both become entangled by a futile and morally dubious attempt to “fix” the situation.