**Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families, by Armstrong, Best and Domenici. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press, 2006. Written for vets. This book is a great starting point for veterans, family members, and therapists. Highly recommended.
**The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds, and Souls of our Soldiers, by Nancy Sherman. NY: Norton, 2010. Excellent, in depth book by philosopher and psychoanalyst.
Back from the Front: Combat Trauma, Love, and the Family by Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D. Baltimore: Sidran Institute Press, 2007. Good for therapists – gives clinical accounts. Matsakis also wrote Vietnam Wives which has an excellent chapter that addresses the unique aspects of war with no defined front. These concepts apply to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well.
**Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, by Jonathan Shay, MD, Ph.D. New York: Scribner, 2002. Shay’s excellent books look at parallels between Greek characters and stories, and today’s warriors. Shay gives excellent clinical information, as well. He won a Pulitzer prize for this book. Shay also wrote Achilles in Vietnam.
**On Killing and On Combat by Dave Grossman, former Army Ranger. New York: Little Brown, 1995 and 2004, respectively. These books are excellent for the clinician to begin to understand what it is like to be a soldier who confronts life and death situations. Grossman’s description of the physiological aspects of combat are extremely useful for clinicians who want to understand what goes on in the mind and body of a soldier. In On Killing, he touches upon a subject few want to discuss – what is it like to kill, what soldiers feel about killing.
The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, by Helen Benedict. Boston, Beacon Press, 2009. Stories of women service members. Illustrates the special problems and dangers women service members face. Well written and moving. Although these are personal accounts, the themes are so illustrative that this book is put in the basic education section.
**Shade it Black: Death and After in Iraq, by Jessica Goodell and John Hearn, 2011. I was deeply affected by this story by a female Marine who worked in Mortuary Affairs. If you are a therapist working with former military, you will meet people who have either worked in a morgue, had to transport someone who was KIA, or had to go to the field and do “collections” – picking up body parts and clothing. This is a valuable book. Goddell also illustrates some of the harassment that female Marines face.
Understanding Combat Conditions:
The Ghosts of War (The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI) by Ryan Smithson. Harper Collins, NY, 2009. Written by a young man who was deployed to Iraq after he enlisted in the Army Reserves because of 9/11. An easy read, and not as intense as the other books in this category. A good introduction to army culture and to war – interestingly, it was published by their juvenile division. Includes accounts of his encounters with death.
*The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel. Sara Crichton Books. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, NY, 2009. This is an excellent account of what it is like to be in combat conditions.
House to House, by David Bellavia and John Bruning. It is rare to read a book where a soldier is this open about what it is like to be in urban combat.
*Sniper: American Single-Shot Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gina Cavallaro with Matt Larsen, Lyons Press, Guilford, CN, 2010. Read this if you want to have a better understanding of what it is like to have “boots on the ground.”
Spiritual Issues and War
Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets by William P. Mahedy, Radix Press, Knoxville, TN, 1986, 1996, 2004. Discussion of spiritual issues, parts steeped in Christian theology.
**None of Us Were Like This Before – American Soldiers and Torture by Joshua E.S. Phillips. London: Verso Books, 2010. A journalist’s thoughtful analysis of what led soldiers to abuse detainees in Iraq, based on interviews with soldiers, family members, and Iraqis. Includes accounts of post-deployment suicides.
**Paradise General – Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq by Dave Hnida, MD. Simon & Schuster, 2010. A physician’s account.
I Love a Man in Uniform by Lily Burana. Weinstein Books, NY, NY, 2009. Both funny and sad, this book tells the story of a left-leaning liberal who married an Army officer. Helpful in understanding military culture.
Soldiers From the War Returning: The greatest generation’s troubled homecoming from World War II. Thomas Childers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2009. This book traces the lives of three service members before, during and after World War II. It provides a historical perspective on how PTSD was treated in soldiers coming home after WW II.
Love in Condition Yellow: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage, by Sophia Raday. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009. Account of a former radical’s marriage to a Soldier. Both funny and touching. Helpful in understanding military culture.
Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the US Army, by Kayla Williams and Michael Staub. An excellent account of one woman’s experience as a soldier. Discusses the problems experienced by women in the military.