January 2015: America's discovered snipers. It doesn't matter that shooters have been providing cover and taking out the enemy for as long as we've had an American military, now the general public has discovered their role.
Army Ranger Sgt. Nicholas Irving has some great timing. He's just published The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers (written in collaboration with Gary Brozek), he's written a thoughtful book that's not just a retread of American Sniper and he handles himself well on TV: check out his appearance on Monday night's edition of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore.
Irving appears with IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff, journalist Matt Taibbi and comedian Sabrina Jalees in a discussion about the overwhelming success of Clint Eastwood's movie and what that success could mean for veterans issues in the USA. He's open about his issues with post-traumatic stress and the panel does a remarkably non-politicized job of addressing the topic.
The Reaper should be a big success. Irving's more nuanced and reflective view of his service contrasts with some of the other military memoirs from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is proud of his service and proud of his country, but he manages to convey that pride without resorting to cable news talking points.
Irving's encounters with a rival sniper known as The Chechen seem like the basis for Hollywood's next big sniper picture and the fact that Nick happens to be African-American should give that movie even more impact.
The Reaper also screws things up for all you Army guys who like to post negative comments whenever we cover movies and books about Navy SEALs, claiming that Rangers never talk. One of your own has decided to tell his story but it's a story worth hearing.