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The Dead Drink First

Narrated by: Dale Maharidge
Length: 3 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,401 ratings)

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Behind the Scenes with Dale Maharidge on The Dead Drink First

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Publisher's Summary

Like many veterans of his era, Sgt. Steve Maharidge never talked about “the good war.” On the surface, the Maharidges were a normal working-class family in the suburbs of Cleveland. But behind closed doors, even the most mundane moments could trigger Steve’s violent, traumatic episodes, which left his son Dale searching for clues to his past. And yet, there was only one: a black-and-white photograph of Steve with another soldier that hung permanently on the wall in the basement. 

In The Dead Drink First, Dale Maharidge, now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, recounts his 18-year quest to learn everything he could about the man in the photo with the hopes of discovering a side of his late father he never knew. The result was something Dale never expected: Not only would he learn the man’s name - Herman Walter Mulligan - but he would help locate his remains and ultimately bring him home 74 years after he was killed in action. 

In this deeply personal audio documentary, Dale retraces his journey through never-before-heard conversations with WWII veterans, their children, and the team of strangers that assembled to find Mulligan and bury him on American soil. In an epic search for a lost Marine, Dale finds forgiveness, lifelong friendships, and uncovers the rich, uniquely American truth about how and why we repatriate our fallen soldiers.  

Please note: This story features explicit language and references to domestic abuse, violence, and war that may be upsetting to some listeners. Discretion is advised.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

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read it even if it's not your usual genre

picked this one on a whim, even though I've never read any war or even historical novels before. this book was well worth it, thoughtfully presented, emotionally satisfying. Even though it dealt with several depressing and potentially disturbing topics the author presented them tactfully to bring the story to life. I highly recommend it.

98 of 99 people found this review helpful

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powerful

this was such a powerful, beautiful and moving tribute to the greatest generation. it tells a story that frankly doesn't get told often enough, about the toll that their sacrifices took on their lives -- as told by the ones closest to them. it's also about the author's quest to make things right by bringing back the body of his father's lost comrade. most important, it's about fathers and sons and finding that closure that most of us never find. as someone who has veterans in the family, you hear stories like these a lot, but rarely do they get told like this. I'm glad I listened to this as it has reminded me all over again of what it means to be american. i won't soon forget. now someone hand me a tissue!

45 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 06-08-19

Explains a Lot about The Greatest Generation

This short listen says a mouthful about our fathers and grandfathers, things we never imagined . . . because this generation never talked. They were the generation that stuffed it all down, men of few words. They sucked it up and went on . . . no matter what the fallout . . . no matter who it hurt . . . no matter if it killed them and everyone they loved. Hard drinking, hard working and often explosive . . . and certainly never understanding or delving into their own demons, these are the men who spawned the baby boomer generation (my generation) . . . who are still picking up the pieces of WWII and the 80 million who were killed in that war. PTSD wasn’t a term back then. This ONE story of SGT Steve Maharidge and his friend, Herman Walter Mulligan who never came back from the war, can be repeated over and over in households all over America. Thank you, Dale Maharidge for telling your story, and the story of two young Marines, your father and his friend, Mulligan . . . and for eventually seeing that Mulligan’s body was returned to the states some 74 years later. We Americans seldom learn from the past, and sadly so. As the wife of a retired, career soldier and mother of two sons who have served in combat zones, I can tell you that war has NOT changed one bit. Families are still being wrecked long after our boys come home, the scars do not heal. This is one of the best listens I’ve ever come across, non-political, truthful and hard hitting. Don’t miss it.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Can I get a third thumb!

Dale Maharidge and Emily Martinez, his audible producer, could not have created a better audio piece on a story that encompasses war, its long term after effects that transcends from veteran to offspring, and lastly a mystery of a long lost U.S. Marine, Herman Walter Mulligan, Jr., whose honor and dignity was restored, 73 years after being killed on Okinawa. I was so fortunate to come across Jean's Facebook post, and privileged to play a small role with bringing Mulligan home. If I had a third thumb, I'd give it three thumbs up.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Emotionally Gripping

Being a novice historian and having great uncles who fought in World War II this gave amazing insight into what I remember as a young girl. None of my great uncles would ever talk about the war. This has opened my eyes to the reasoning behind their silence. The emotion that this elicited with first hand account and audio we astounding. To be able to bring the listener back to that era and help another generation understand the hurt, pain and unmentionable suffering that took place as a result of the war was very powerful.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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wow

I honestly have been sitting here trying to articulate my thoughts and feelings since finishing this book, but with no avail. There aren't words, just wow

48 of 52 people found this review helpful

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Never Forget

A very well told and moving story. I listened to it on D-Day, 2019. It's a story of a gruesome battle, PTSD, TBI. That and the many missing in our armed forces.

38 of 41 people found this review helpful

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A Truly Amazing, Valuable Listening Experience

I was born during WWII and in my senior years I’m loving to soak up whatever I can about that horrific war. Dale Maharidge, I thank you for the amazing dedication and perseverance you displayed in sharing your research. I’m sure I will listen to this many more times.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Well Done!

I have to admit that I probably would not have considered this book if it had not been one of the monthly selections, and I would have definitely missed out. This was extremely well done. The pacing and mix is excellent. Although it took so much time and perseverance to achieve the end result, the story itself never lagged. What a great job of bringing this labor of love to life.

May we always appreciate our veterans and their families, their courage and their sacrifices.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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So Many Memories

This story completely enthralled me, which was a surprise because I generally don't choose military/ war related reading.
However being the granddaughter, daughter, and sister of men who served in the Navy maybe I've been making a serious mistake.
I cared about every person in this story, they made me giggle and brought me to tears.
On one hand I am awed by the author who took on this nearly impossible challenge. On the other I'm angry and dismayed that our government didn't do more to assist with the process which could have brought about the conclusion years earlier.
Many thanks to the author, the families involved, and most importantly to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our United States.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful