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Featured Books about War, Trauma, and Healing

Purchase War and the Soul


War and the Soul

by Ed Tick

The key to healing post-traumatic stress disorder, says psychotherapist Ed Tick, is in how we understand PTSD. In war’s overwhelming violence, the soul—the true self—flees and can become lost for life. He redefines PTSD as a true identity disorder, with radical implications for therapy. First, Tick establishes the traditional context of war in mythology and religion. Then he describes in depth PTSD in terms of identity issues. Finally, drawing on world spiritual traditions, he presents ways to nurture a positive identity based in compassion and forgiveness. War and the Soul will change the way we think about war, for veterans and for all those who love and want to help them. It shows how to make the wounded soul whole again. When this work is achieved, PTSD vanishes and the veteran can truly return home.

The Golden Tortoise

by Ed Tick

This journal of poems and prose takes readers on journeys through Viet Nam today, visiting its sights to replace images of suffering with images of healing.

“The grief that a soldier feels when a comrade is killed or severely maimed, is akin to the grief of a mother whose child has just been killed.” -- Jonathan Shay, in the Voices in Wartime Anthology

Voices in Wartime Anthology

Edited by Andrew Himes and Jan Bultmann

240-page book includes poetry, essays, and narratives based on interviews conducted for the feature-length documentary film Voices in Wartime. The book features active-duty soldiers, veterans, torture victims, war correspondents, the families of the disappeared and the dead, poets, peace activists—the compelling responses of unique, individual human beings to the experience of war. A powerful testimony to the human cost of war and to the requirement that we imagine and create alternatives to war as a method of resolving conflict.

The Making and Unmaking of a Marine

by Larry Winters

Larry Winters is a poet, writer and Vietnam Veteran whose memoir titled “The Making and Un-Making of a Marine” was published in January 2007. Larry Winters is a Senior Group Psychotherapist at Four Winds Hospital and maintains a private practice, who brings to his clinical and teaching work a rare combination of trust, inspiring strength and warmth.


Readers Recommend

Poetry | Fiction | Nonfiction

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Daphne's Lot
Chris Abani (March 2003)

The masterful wedding of the narrative and the lyric in these poems (whose subject is the maturation of a sensibility, the coming-of-age of a young Englishwoman — the power of her ties to family, husband and her "adopted" country, Nigeria — as well as the illumination of her own soul and that of the narrator’s) fills the reader with both sorrow and wonder. It is an instructive tale for our age — its vision of the individual will and imagination resisting the madness of politics and the destruction of war is singular and profound. (Description by Carol Muske-Dukes)

Oxford Book of War Poetry
Jon Stallworthy (Editor)

"Reminds one of the large numbers and great variety of war poems from many centuries that are very good poems. Mr. Stallworthy's selections include most of the best, at least the best in English"--New York Times Book Review. "Excellently edited...this volume frames great evil and greater bravery"--Los Angeles Times Book Review. "This collection is of exceptionally high quality"--Washington Post Book World. This chronological compilation of 250 powerful poems ranges Troy to the World Wars to El Salvador, from Homer to Whitman to Wilfred Owen.

Kalakuta Republic: A Book of Poetry
Chris Abani (January 2001)

Kalakuta Republic is a powerful collection of poems detailing the harrowing experiences endured by Abani and others at the hands of Nigeria's military regime in the late 1980s. Abani's poems are dedicated to those who shared in but did not live through the suffering. In them he describes the characters that people this dark world, from the prison inmates to their torturers, the generals. Kalakuta Republic is based on his experience as political prisoner between 1985 and 1991.

Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen, Cecil Day Lewis (Editor)

Every war has produced great poets and WWI was fixed in our minds by the sensitive words of Siegfried Sassoon and especially Wilfred Owen. Writing from the trenches Owen managed to keep his eyes and mind and heart wide open while he witnessed the horrid plunder that surrounded him.. That he was able to transpose these experiences into the transcendentally beautiful poems that fill this book is a major wonder. Yes, WWII had WH Auden et al and the hungry monster machine of war was again made into words. And poets wrote of Korea, of Vietnam, and other countries' poets wrote of other wars. But again the threats and facts cloud our lives and world, and their words seemingly fall on deaf ears. Would that we could take heed of the poems of such perfection as those here by Wilfred Owen. (review by Grady Harp)

Distant Road: Selected Poems of Nguyen Duy
Nguyen Duy, Kevin Bowen (translator), Nguyen Ba Chung (translator)

Distant Road is the first English translation of Vietnams most prolific and widely read poet. Bowen and Chung's volume -- a facing-page translation that reproduces the original Vietnamese pieces -- tries to be as comprehensive as possible, drawing on poems from all stages of Duys career. Born in Thanh Hoa in 1948, Duy served with distinction in the North Vietnamese Army, and many of his poems draw upon his combat experiences, as well as upon the difficulties he faced as a writer in the Communist regime that was established after US withdrawal. Chungs introduction provides a useful sketch of Duys life and situates his career within the context of modern Vietnamese history. (Kirkus Reviews)


All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque (1921)

Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.
"The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first trank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure." -- The New York Times Book Review

Catch 22
Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is like no other novel. It has its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original. Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality -- a masterpiece of our time.

The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam (April 1996)
Bao Ninh, Frank Palmos (editor), Phan Thanh Hao (translator)

Kien... is a 10-year veteran whose experiences bear a striking similarity to those of the author, a Hanoi writer who fought with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade. The novel opens just after the war, with Kien working in a unit that recovers soldiers' corpses. Revisiting the sites of battles raises emotional ghosts for him, "a parade of horrific memories" that threatens his sanity, and he finds that writing about those years is the only way to purge them. Juxtaposing battle scenes with dreams and childhood remembrances as well as events in Kien's postwar life, the book builds to a climax of brutality. A trip to the front with Kien's childhood sweetheart ends with her noble act of sacrifice, and it becomes clear to the reader that, in Vietnam, purity and innocence exist only to be besmirched. Covering some of the same physical and thematic terrain as Novel Without a Name (see above), The Sorrow of War is often as chaotic in construction as the events it describes. In fact, it is untidy and uncontrolled, like the battlefield it conveys. ...The faults of this book are also its strengths, however. Its raggedness aptly evokes the narrator's feverish view of a dangerous and unpredictable world. And its language possesses a ferocity of expression that strikes the reader with all the subtlety of a gut-punch. Polishing this rough jewel would, strangely, make it less precious.


The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Keeping Hope Alive in a Time of Fear
Paul Loeb (Summer, 2004)

The Impossible explores how we replenish the wells of commitment--keeping on when times get tough, and working for a more humane world, no matter how hard it sometimes seems. The book brings together the voices of writers who’ve helped keep me going over the years--an amazing and powerful range including Diane Ackerman, Maya Angelou, Mary Catherine Bateson, Ariel Dorfman, Marian Wright Edelman, Eduardo Galeano, Susan Griffin, Vclav Havel, Mark Hertsgaard, Jonathan Kozol, Tony Kushner, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Pablo Neruda, Henri Nouwen, Parker Palmer, Marge Piercy, Arundhati Roy, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Jim Wallis, Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, Walter Wink, and Howard Zinn, plus an array of wonderful lesser-known people.

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
Chris Hedges (June 2003)

As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.” Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary.

Odysseus in America
Jonathan Shay (November 2002)

In his acclaimed book Achilles in Vietnam, Dr. Jonathan Shay used the Iliad as a prism through which to examine how ancient and modern wars have battered the psychology of the men who fight. Now he turns his attention to the Odyssey, Homer's classic story of a soldier's homecoming, to illuminate the real problems faced by combat veterans reentering civilian society. Drawing on his years of experience working with Vietnam veterans, Shay illustrates how the Odyssey can be read as a metaphor for the pitfalls that trap many veterans on the road back to civilian life. He also explains how veterans recover, and advocates changes to American military practice that will protect future servicemen and servicewomen while increasing their fighting power.

The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
Jonathan Schell (May 2003)

Tracing the relentless expansion of violence to its culmination in nuclear stalemate, Schell uncovers a simultaneous but little-noted history of nonviolent action at every level of political life. His historical journey turns up seeds of nonviolence even in the bloody revolutions of America, France, and Russia, as well as in the people’s wars of China and Vietnam. And his investigations into the great nonviolent events of modern times—from Gandhi’s independence movement in India to the explosion of civic activity that brought about the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union—suggest foundations of an entirely new kind on which to construct an enduring peace. As Schell makes clear, all-out war, with its risk of human extinction, must cease to play the role of final arbiter. The Unconquerable World is a bold book of global significance; far from being utopian, it offers the only realistic hope of safety.

Wilfred Owen: A New Biography
Dominic Hibberd (January 2003)

The most complete biography ever written of the Great War's greatest poet. The life of this brilliant poet, which was cut short just before the armistice that ended World War I, remains unknown to far too many. Wilfred Owen is referred to as a "soldier-poet" of WWI, which includes him in the company of such literary standards as Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. But, as perhaps the greatest poet among the three, he is the least known. Dominic Hibberd's new biography will hopefully set that to rights. (review by beckahi)

Achilles in Vietnam
Jonathan Shay (October 1995)

In this strikingly original and groundbreaking book, Dr. Shay examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer's Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the Iliad was written twenty-seven centuries ago it has much to teach about combat trauma, as do the more recent, compelling voices and experiences of Vietnam vets.

Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time
Paul Loeb (March 1999)

Soul of a Citizen awakens within us the desire and the ability to make our voices heard and our actions count. We can lead lives worthy of our convictions. A book of inspiration and integrity, Soul of a Citizen is an antidote to the twin scourges of modern life-powerlessness and cynicism. In his evocative style. Paul Loeb tells moving tells moving stories of ordinary Americans who have found unexpected fulfillment in social involvement. Through their example and Loeb's own wise and powerful lessons, we are compelled to move from passivity to participation. The reward of our action, we learn, is nothing less than a sense of connection and purpose not found in a purely personal life.

Readers Recommended Poetry

Notes to the Man Who Shot Me: Vietnam War Poems, by John Musgrave, Coal City Review Press, 2003.

Readers Recommended Fiction

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Knopf, 1955. ... remains the masterpiece of writing on war, in my opinion. It's the perfect illustration of the total insanity of war. --Louis

A Very Long Engagement, by Sebastian Japrisot. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1993. Possibly my favorite work of fiction set during war... a remarkable book about World War I. Part mystery, part romance, altogther gripping--definitely one of my five "Desert Island" books. --Alix

The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. ...I think Tim O'Brien writes incredible fiction about the experience of war. His collection of short stories, is a classic, but two of his longer books made deeper impressions on me.

In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O'Brien. unbelievably harrowing story of a Vietnam combat vet John Wade whose promising postwar political career is derailed by revelations about his past involvement in a My Lai type massacre arise. When his wife disappears -- was she murdered? -- has she fled? -- O'Brien delves deeply into Wade's hallucinatory, agonized experience of living with post-traumatic stress disorder in a way that makes it possible for those of us who've never been in combat begin to glimpse its costs. --jan

Going after Cacciato, by Tim O'Brien. ...A totally surreal story about the search for a private who deserts and starts the 8,000-mile walk to peace talks in Paris. --jan

The Kingdom of God is Within You, by Leo Tolstoy. ...It is about the control of people for purposes of war. This book will be skipped by many I fear because of the title, but it is a really great book and as as relevant today as ever. He denounces the churches, the kings,and proclaims himself an anarchist. Gandhi spoke highly of this book. --John

Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. Carol Publishing, 1970...a classic.--Michael

Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic. McGraw Hill, 1976. ...a classic of the war in Southeast Asia. -- Michael

Readers Recommended Nonfiction

In Pharoah's Army, by Tobias Wolf. Bloomsbury, 1996. ...great. -- jim



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