On radio today, 'American Sniper' co-author Jim DeFelice joined the radio show to talk about the incredible success of the 'American Sniper' movie, the Chris Kyle he knew, and the criticism coming from the progressive voices in Hollywood.
Below is a rough transcript of the segment:
GLENN: Jim DeFelice is the coauthor of the book. He wrote it with Chris Kyle. He is with us now.
Jim, how are you, sir?
JIM: I'm great, guys. And, you know, you guys can just keep going.
GLENN: First of all, in your wildest dreams, you or Chris when you were writing this that it would be this huge?
JIM: No way. No way. I remember one afternoon Chris and I we were a little tired from -- we kind of kicked back a bit. We were sitting around and having a couple of beers. So Chris asked me how I though the book would do. I knew it was a great story, and I knew that it would resonate. I hoped, I should say, that it would do well. You know, you don't know. He asked me would it sell a lot? And I said, I hope so. I think it's a great story.
He goes, well, if it sells a couple, I don't really care. I've done my part. Thanks a lot, dude. It's just been phenomenal.
GLENN: So, Jim, how do you -- I mean, how are you making sense of the -- of the vitriol that is coming out about this movie now from the left?
JIM: Here's the thing. There's been a lot of criticism really since the book was first published. The problem is -- listen, you know, we're American. I love the fact that people can say what they think. It's our privilege. And, you know, we live --
GLENN: And our responsibility.
JIM: And our responsibility. And I'm cool with it. You can say whatever you want. The only thing I would wish is that when you voice an opinion, I think it would be useful, you know, work with some facts. Read the book, for crying out loud. You know, most of the people who have problems with either the book or the movie, a lot of them haven't read the book. I can tell three words out of their mouth, and I can tell. You know, if you read the book and you've seen the movie or whatever, and you want to discuss it intellectually and intelligently, hey, listen, that's cool. That's fine. But please have some facts behind you. Or I'm not going to listen to you.
GLENN: Let's go off this. Page 324. In the end I was all right with being scheduled for another deployment, I still loved war. That's the kind of thing that they're seizing on.
PAT: The fact he said it was fun and he loved war. Can you clarify those?
JIM: Do you want a soldier who do not like what he does? I don't know. Do you live what you do? In my job, I love what I do. That's what gets me up in the morning every day. Listen --
GLENN: Everybody I've met that's good at their job. They don't love killing.
GLENN: I shouldn't say that. I do believe they love killing the bad guys. They don't mind killing the bad guys. And I don't think any of them take it lightly. As you watched the movie, I thought that Bradley Cooper did a really good job of showing, he was not into killing for killing. Every time he squeezed that trigger when he was not sure, it bother him deeply.
JIM: First of all, Bradley Cooper did a phenomenal job. The other thing I have to say, the rules of engagement were so tight. The requirements so strict. And, you know, Chris was always being -- you know, there was always somebody there. That's how we know the real number of the people he killed. He never had a doubt when he squeezed that trigger. He always knew that the guy that he was fighting was -- was a terrorist. Was either trying to kill him or trying to kill an Iraqi.
He actually -- the truth is that he was more protecting -- he was certainly protecting fellow Americans, but the bulk of the people that he was protecting over the course of those four deployments were Iraqis. You know, whether they were being attacked directly or they were IEDs going off or whatever. That was actually Chris' job.
If it weren't just for not just Chris, actually, you know, for all Americans who were there, the Iraqis would never have been able to form their government. They wouldn't have even been able to go to school or what have you. And you see what ISIS is doing now. Well, that's what -- a lot of those people, they're involved in ISIS, in Mosul and some of the other places, are actually the old, you know, [inaudible word] that the Americans had chased or quieted down. They've come back out of the woodwork.
GLENN: You know the scene where they're -- they're trying to get the guy, you know, who is drilling people. And they go in and they're across the street, you know, in the upstairs room with, you know -- with one of the bad guys. And they go across, and they're in this torture chamber. They come out and they're chasing the bad guys through a tunnel. And all of a sudden, you see this crowd of Iraqis carrying the dead in the street. Here's a torture chamber, of not Americans, but anybody who stands against these guys. There's a torture chamber, and these guys are standing in the streets and shouting down the Americans.
And Chris and everyone was just really cool said, let's go. This thing is falling apart. Let's go.
I will tell you that my visceral reaction in watching that was, shoot them. Kill them all. They're all animals. Shoot them all. I was impressed and I think anybody who was honest if you were into this movie, you were impressed that the American shoulders had so much restraint and they didn't just shoot them. After walking through a torture chamber and seeing what you saw, that just screws you up. Did you ever -- did you ever talk to him about the restraint that it took to not just at times see people as animals and not just shoot them?
JIM: Sure, absolutely. From Chris' perspective, that's what his training was all about. And, you know, the ROEs they're all about -- obviously, it's very difficult to make yourself a professional and to get into that role and say, well, okay, this is what I have to do. I don't necessarily like it, but I have to follow just these rules.
And listen, the SEALs that's why they're selected. They go through a process to find -- it's not just physical. They want to find the guys that can mentally do those things. We're talking about the evil in Iraq. And, look, people don't have to take my word for it or Chris Kyle's word for it. I happened to be very privileged to work with an Iraqi, you know, who worked with American forces as well as Iraqi forces. And can, you know, talk -- he lays out -- not everything, but some of the things that the terrorists, both Sunni and Shia were doing. "Code Name: Johnny Walker." You know, go to your library or even better, buy it, and find out when an Iraqi thinks of that war and thinks of Americans like Chris Kyle.
STU: It was amazing watching some of the reaction from people like Seth Rogen comparing the movie and the book to Nazi propaganda. First reaction to that.
JIM: You know -- I'll tell you something, if you don't know a lot about World War II and you don't know a lot about Nazi propaganda, I guess you can say anything you want.
GLENN: How about Michael Moore who said, you know, my uncle or somebody was killed by a sniper. And snipers are cowards.
JIM: First of all, I appreciate his uncle having fought in that war. Because of his uncle and many men like him you and I enjoy our freedoms today. So, you know, I thank Mr. Moore's uncle and the entire family. But, you know, snipers today, I think this is a common misunderstanding of what snipers did in Iraq.
You know, World War II unfortunately when we were trying to liberate France, Italy, Germany, a lot of countries, to get the enemy, we would blow up a building, you know, where there were some soldiers, and unfortunately blow up -- whole villages were wiped out and towns and parts of cities. That's no longer -- we don't want to do that. That's bad. We're killing innocent civilians. We're causing collateral damage. Even if we're not killing innocent people, we're destroying their buildings.
The whole idea of snipers, the thing they did in the Iraq war, is they were highly trained. Given precision weapons and equipment and very strict rules of engagement so that the people they were killing were only terrorists and insurgents who were trying to kill other Iraqis and trying to kill Americans.
So it's kind of ironic that people say, oh, this guy was, you know, whatever they say. When what he was really doing was trying to, you know, not harm civilians. But, you know, I guess you can say whatever you want if you don't have the facts.
STU: We're talking to Jim DeFelice. He was the coauthor of "American Sniper" with Chris Kyle.
And one of the things you did both -- in telling the story in the book and, of course, to the movie, that I thought was really impressive was the price that Chris and his family paid for what he did. He thought this was so vitally important to the country that he was willing on to pay the price of putting himself in an impossible situation, watching his best friends die and really ripping his family apart almost to the point where it couldn't be repaired.
JIM: Absolutely. And that's -- actually every veteran, everybody that serves in service is in the military, is giving, you know -- is giving you and me a blank check on their lives. But at the same time, they're also giving a blank check on the lives of their loved ones and their families.
And one of the things I think -- one of the reasons I think the people reacted to "American Sniper" the book and now the movie, so favorably is because we were able to talk about what Taya Kyle went through. A little bit about what the kids and the family went through. And getting her voice into "American Sniper" -- you know, if you want to and me what I'm most proud of in that book, was being able to do that because she's a remarkable woman.
As remarkable as she is, she is no different than the wives and mothers and the daughters of every service person that really is protecting our freedom today.
PAT: Jim, can you discuss a little bit the incident that Chris had with Jesse Ventura?
JIM: You know, that's the one thing I've been told not to talk about. The case is under appeal. Look, I was deposed for an entire day. Eight or nine hours, whatever it was. I testified for an hour. I'm on record a lot about it. There were a lot of guys who testified to it. At the end of the day, the jury does what the jury does.
PAT: It's an unbelievable decision.
STU: I will say, I was interested in the story. I love Chris Kyle. At least 20 percent of the reason I went to the movie was to piss off Jesse Ventura.
JIM: I will tell you one thing, whatever the differences were, Chris always honored Mr. Ventura's service. Whatever the circumstance, he was -- to the effect, you know, he did serve in the military. I'm proud of that. I honor that. Whatever else -- and I'm sure there was a lot of else in some of those sentences, but whatever else, that was still valuable to him. Still important to him, no matter who it was.
GLENN: So let me just ask one quick question. The thing that bothered me. I have someone on my team that is on my protective detail that served with Chris' brother. And he said, that was not Chris' brother.
JIM: Yeah, that's not Jeff. I don't know. I didn't write the screenplay. I wasn't on the set. You know, sometimes people have -- you know, they have to -- it's a movie. It's not real life. I can tell you, Jeff Kyle is -- change of circumstances in Jeff would be, you know, Chris. He's a great guy. He's a brave marine. He's a marine recon.
GLENN: He's not a guy who is --
PAT: Oh, he was in recon? I didn't -- wow. He was not presented as marine recon.
JIM: Jeff is so low-key. He's just under the radar. That's cool with him. That's who he is. He's really a hero in his own right.
GLENN: I thought it was important to correct the record here. If you saw the movie, that is not who he is.
JIM: Yeah. It's an actor. And they have roles they have to do.
GLENN: I know.
JIM: Cram a whole life in two hours, that's pretty hard.
GLENN: I know. Thank you so much for being there for Chris and writing this story and being a part of the true American history.
I was struck a couple of weeks ago when the president came out and spoke about the ESPN anchor that died. He came out and did a big deal about him, but has never said anything about an American hero, Chris Kyle. And I'm glad that the American people are now speaking in the sales of the books and in the movie, to show that we do honor him, his family, and the service of all those who fight for us. Thank you so much.
JIM: Oh, I am honored to be part of it.
GLENN: God bless you. Thanks a lot. We'll talk again.