The Dead Drink First

Narrated by: Dale Maharidge
Length: 3 hrs and 31 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (18,523 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $7.95

Buy for $7.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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.

Go Behind the Scenes with Dale Maharidge on The Dead Drink First

0:00

"The way I write the word, this is very much my story, my experience from earliest memory. It wasn't journalism; it was life. But also, it was life and journalism. So, it's 62 years of living behind my voice in this. So yes, I couldn't imagine someone else doing it."

Dale Maharidge, Author of The Dead Drink First
.

Our favorite moments from The Dead Drink First

"He had a lot of trauma, which he kept hidden."
-0.00
"…once they were in, they stayed in."
-0.00
"It’s easy to die. That’s not the tragedy of war."
-0.00

  • The Dead Drink First
  • "He had a lot of trauma, which he kept hidden."
  • The Dead Drink First
  • "…once they were in, they stayed in."
  • The Dead Drink First
  • "It’s easy to die. That’s not the tragedy of war."

About the Creator and Performer

Dale Maharidge is a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He’s published ten books, including And Their Children After Them, which won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, and Journey to Nowhere, which inspired Bruce Springsteen to write the song "Youngstown." He has been a journalist for over 40 years.

What listeners say about The Dead Drink First

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12,318
  • 4 Stars
    3,963
  • 3 Stars
    1,506
  • 2 Stars
    364
  • 1 Stars
    372
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11,089
  • 4 Stars
    3,562
  • 3 Stars
    1,492
  • 2 Stars
    399
  • 1 Stars
    295
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12,124
  • 4 Stars
    3,002
  • 3 Stars
    1,080
  • 2 Stars
    316
  • 1 Stars
    289

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

187 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

145 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

57 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ!

I initially didn't think too much when I got this for free from audible but once I started I couldn't stop and i was soooo sad that it ended!! Man, what I thought was going to be a regular book about ww2 turned out to be such a healing experience for me!!! I am a second generation by product of PTSD since my grandfather was in ww2 (in the field) and I had NO idea that my family suffered so much from his experience In the war. It makes so much sense to me now of my childhood and the things I've experienced that it literally made me weep! Something so little as this book brought me so much understanding and healing that I would love to see this book as a MUST READ FOR anyone and everyone! please get this book and be warned you will cry and weep like a baby..TRUST ME. THANK YOU TO THE AUTHOR for this wonderful story of grace,mercy and understanding, GOD BLESS!!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good story-bad language

Seemed like a good story but it developed too slow. I probably would have listened to the end but after hearing the “f” word too frequently, I quit.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

We have Much to Learn

I chose The Dead Drink First, knowing it would be educational.. It was So much more.
This has given me a greater understanding of WWII and the countries involved. It also gave me a greater appreciation of the cost of war to Everyone--families, individuals, children--who at those times become expendable.

While conducting interviews of vets/families over time and presenting research, Maharidge was able to make the piece accessible by sharing his personal journey within his family.
I believe he succeeded in showing the need for understanding and for further attention to Vets in general, and those with trauma and head injuries in particular, by listening and helping them to speak--to make their lives real--not just to listeners, but to themselves and to their families. I'm appreciative, as well, for the work being done to bring fallen soldiers home.

My parents, and their generation lived through WWII, but I'd never realized that our family's turmoil was probably a direct result of my father's PTSD. My dad only told me one small piece of information from his time in the Navy, and I've never discussed it--never knew how to process it--as it was so outrageous. Not anymore.

I'm very grateful for the people involved in the making of The Dead Drink First.
It is a further reminder to all as we count the cost that there are truly no winners. May there be Peace on earth.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

15 people found this helpful