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Reviewed by Charles Ashbacher for Readers' Favorite
While there are some grammatical errors in this short story, they add to the rawness and impact rather than depreciate it. The author is a confessed sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) acquired during his service in Afghanistan. The story involves tenseness in the face of danger, threats from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and the general absurdities of fighting an ill-defined war in a distant land.
Bowman describes how the general Afghan population was hostile to their presence, the standard response to foreign armies engaged in long-term military occupations. If pressed, he could not answer questions as to what the U.S. presence was really trying to do in Afghanistan. Sections of his unit would leave the security of their base and go out on the roads, occasionally being hit by an IED. When that happened, other sections would scramble out to the site and perform a rescue and gory clean up.
Bowman’s greatest frustration was after his unit was moved to a much safer base and told that the remainder of their time in the country would be spent there, only to be moved back into danger zones. Like soldiers on deployment in dangerous zones all through time, Bowman started with the fatalistic mindset that he would not survive, yet when his time grew short he was fearful that he would be killed within days or hours of departing.
This is a very powerful personal account of a soldier on deployment and how his psyche was damaged while in the field. Sadly, his story is a familiar one, both historically and in recent campaigns. This account is very similar to those of soldiers past that were members of an occupying army in a country they did not understand. Yet, this being an old story does not diminish the impact of reading how a man was changed by his experiences, and how he struggles to cope with his past and create a positive future.