In the tradition of Michael Herr's Dispatches and works by such masters of the memoir as Mary Karr and Tobias Wolff, a powerful account of war and homecoming that grabs readers by the throat even as it touches their hearts.
Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them as the commander of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Iraq. Days and nights he and his team - his brothers - would venture forth in heavily armed convoys from their Forward Operating Base to engage in the nerve-racking yet strangely exhilarating work of either disarming the deadly improvised explosive devices that had been discovered, or picking up the pieces when the alert came too late. They relied on an army of remote-controlled cameras and robots, but if that technology failed, a technician would have to don the eighty-pound Kevlar suit, take the Long Walk up to the bomb, and disarm it by hand. This lethal game of cat and mouse was, and continues to be, the real war within America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But The Long Walk is not just about battle itself. It is also an unflinching portrayal of the toll war exacts on the men and women who are fighting it. When Castner returned home to his wife and family, he began a struggle with a no less insidious foe, an unshakable feeling of fear and confusion and survivor's guilt that he terms The Crazy. His thrilling, heartbreaking, stunningly honest book immerses the reader in two harrowing and simultaneous realities: the terror and excitement and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the enemy within - the haunting memories that will not fade, the survival instincts that will not switch off. After enduring what he has endured, can there ever again be such a thing as "normal"? The Long Walk will hook you from the very first sentence, and it will stay with you long after its final gripping page has been turned.
Whirl Is King
The first thing you should know about me is that Im Crazy.
I havent always been. Until that one day, the day I went Crazy, I was fine. Or I thought I was. Not anymore.
My Crazy is a feeling. Its the worst, most intolerable feeling Ive ever had. And it never goes away.
When youre Crazy, you make a list of people you have told, the people you have come out to. My list is small. One best friend but not another. Jimbo and John and Greg, but not the other guys on the team. Your wife but not your mother. Those that you think will get it, will understand.
And now Im telling you. That Im Crazy, and I dont know why.
The second thing you should know about me is that I dont know how to fix it. Or control it. Or endure from one moment to the next. The Crazy is winning.
So I run.
I run every day, twice a day sometimes, out the front door of my peaceful suburban home, past sticky blast scenes of sewage, and ...
The Long Walk is a scathingly honest portrayal of the stress of war, the depth of loss soldiers experience and the immense challenges many of our returning veterans face every day. It should be required reading for anyone considering a military career, and is a must-read for those seeking to better understand the ultimate costs of war paid by the men and women who wage it for us (and by the families who stand beside them). It's sure to become a classic of wartime literature.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1172 words).
An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is an inexpensive, low-tech weapon designed to cause death or injury to enemy forces. The British Army was the first to call such homemade bombs IEDs in the 1970s, referring to the fertilizer and Semtex explosives used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Although IEDs have become a common term in recent years, improvised explosives are not a new concept: Greek historians record the use of fire ships to ram and burn the enemy in 415 BCE and the deployment of incendiary war pigs against war elephants in 266 BCE. In more recent history, jury-rigged bombs and mines were employed in the United States' Civil War and the Resistance across occupied Europe made good use of them during World ...
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