Crossings: Book summary and reviews of Crossings by Jon Kerstetter

Crossings

A Doctor-Soldier's Story

by Jon Kerstetter

Crossings by Jon Kerstetter X
Crossings by Jon Kerstetter
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2017
    352 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Crossings is a memoir of an improbable, powerfully drawn life, one that began in poverty on the Oneida Reservation in Wisconsin but grew by force of will to encompass a remarkable medical practice.

Every juncture in Jon Kerstetter's life has been marked by a crossing from one world into another: from civilian to doctor to soldier; between healing and waging war; and between compassion and hatred of the enemy. When an injury led to a stroke that ended his careers as a doctor and a soldier, he faced the most difficult crossing of all, a recovery that proved as shattering as war itself.

Trained as an emergency physician, Kerstetter's thirst for intensity led him to volunteer in war-torn Rwanda, Kosovo, and Bosnia, and to join the Army National Guard. His three tours in the Iraq War marked the height of the American struggle there. The story of his work in theater, which involved everything from saving soldiers' lives to organizing the joint U.S.–Iraqi forensics team tasked with identifying the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons, is a bracing, unprecedented evocation of a doctor's life at war.

But war was only the start of Kerstetter's struggle. The stroke he suffered upon returning from Iraq led to serious cognitive and physical disabilities. His years-long recovery, impeded by near-unbearable pain and complicated by PTSD, meant overcoming the perceived limits of his body and mind and re-imagining his own capacity for renewal and change. It led him not only to writing as a vocation but to a deeper understanding of how healing means accepting a new identity, and how that acceptance must be fought for with as much tenacity as any battlefield victory.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The author's medical perspective on his own condition and critical therapeutic moments adds depth to an already solid story. An inspiring memoir." - Kirkus

"Kerstetter has written a fascinating and nuanced edge-of-your-seat tale about the humanity of medicine amidst the inhumanity of war. Your heart will be pounding on every page. I couldn't put this wonderful book down." - Matt McCarthy, author of The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly

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Author Information

Jon Kerstetter

Jon Kerstetter received his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, and his MFA degree from Ashland University in Ohio. He served as a combat physician and flight surgeon for the U.S. Army and completed three combat tours in Iraq. His writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, River Teeth, and other literary journals.

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