The author and I inhabit the same age cohort. His descriptions of the moral domain of combat, and the context in which the war in Viet Nam was fought, but particularly what it was like to come home, broke my heart. It is so important that others read this account so that we can begin, collectively, to understand the terrible forces unleashed in those of us who find ourselves pursuing this path as young people.
Aside from being a great story teller, Marlantes has taken a depth psychological view of the subjective domain of the Warrior. He writes about the "temple of Mars", in a way that enlivens the commentary on morality that is his central thesis.
I like to think that I was savvy enough to have seen the handwriting on the wall by the end of the summer of 1966, where I'd been closely exposed to the life of a Marine fire team during an exercise at Camp Pendleton. As a 20 year old midshipman, I knew deeply that the grunt who was leading our little patrol, though he was my age, was inhabiting a different universe than mine, but not that different than the guy in Texas who had just wiped out 20+ students firing as a sniper from the Texas Tower. I decided at that point, I wasn't looking to get a Marine commission. Didn't think I needed to be a hero, and realized I'd rather have a steel hull around me than a jungle. Consequently, I have no PTSD. As a result, my coming to terms with Viet Nam has taken a different shape. I became a family therapist and have spent well over thirty years grappling with the struggles that all of us, particularly men, have in reconciling the parts of ourselves that go to war. I am very thankful for this book in a way that is quite personal and yet hope that everyone can find some link to the personal stories about war that haunt American lives.
Dan Siegel's 1999 work, "The Developing Mind," changed the way I thought about the practice of psychotherapy more than any other single book I'd read.
I wasn't alone in that experience, and the new century has seen the elaboration of this paradigm in which the brain is understood as the creator of "mind."
Dan has become the quintessential spokesman for this viewpoint in the psychotherapy community, with frequent appearances, several books, and lots of web based material that makes this complex set of ideas accessible to those who don't have a background in neuroscience.
This work on "Mindsight," provides good access to this thinking and these practices for anyone who would like to understand this new paradigm. The explanations and case examples from Dan's practice are straightforward and easy to follow.
What I particularly enjoy is the relational stance in a psychotherapy that understands and values presence, connection and commitment. The work of the human mind has everything to do with our connections to others, and Dan Siegel masterfully explores this domain as he teaches new ways of understanding what goes on in our heads.
As a baby boomer, I watched (and participated in) the era in which US military power has been steered off the track. Rachel's point that this process wasn't a back room conspiracy awaits investigations that won't happen. From Watergate, to Iran-Contra, to Valerie Plame, and the drone wars, it sure looks like the folks at the very top of the executive branch aren't interested in talking about this "drift" in any forum where they are potentially vulnerable to rules of evidence. Rachel has opened this history to the generations that grew up believing that America is a great power, and that grown-ups are in charge. She deserves special thanks for this from her own generation, and praise form those of us who have been watching helplessly for the last fifty years.
I'm guessing that she'll never hear from Dick Cheney, who floats in the background like the Dark Lord. Too bad, I'm sure it would be a great epilogue.
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