Shay works from an intriguing premise: that the study of the great Homeric epic of war, The Iliad, can illuminate our understanding of Vietnam, and vice versa. Along the way, he compares the battlefield experiences of men like Agamemnon and Patroclus with those of frontline grunts, analyzes the berserker rage that overcame Achilles and so many American soldiers alike, and considers the ways in which societies ancient and modern have accounted for and dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder---a malady only recently recognized in the medical literature, but well attested in Homer's pages. The novelist Tim O'Brien, who has written so affectingly about his experiences in combat, calls Shay's book "one of the most original and most important scholarly works to have emerged from the Vietnam war." He's right.
Shay is a psychiatrist specializing in treating Vietnam veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress syndrome. In this provocative monograph, he relates their experiences to Homer's portrait of Achilles in The Illiad. War, he argues, generates rage because of its intrinsic unfairness. Only one's special comrades can be trusted. The death of Patroklos drove Achilles first into passionate grief, then into berserk wrath. Shay establishes convincing parallels to combat in Vietnam, where the war was considered meaningless and mourning for dead friends was thwarted by an indifferent command structure. He convincingly recommends policies of unit rotation and unit "griefwork"--official recognition of combat losses--as keys to sustaining what he calls a moral existence during war's human encounters. The alternatives are unrestrained revenge-driven behavior, endless reliving of the guilt such behavior causes and the ruin of good character. Shay's ideas merit attention by soldiers and scholars alike.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's intense with emotion, but I feel as though I have a deeper understanding about the Vietnam War and what the veterans are facing here at home. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Jolynn
Essential reading for anyone who knows and loves someone returning from a war zone. Also of great interest to anyone who loves Homer. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jane Rochester
This book takes a look at PTSD and draws parallels between the experience of Vietnam veterans and Trojan War vetrans. It's an interesting idea that really works. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Avid reader
Great comparison of the Vietnam experience relative to history. Well written and interesting.Published 5 months ago by Joseph B Schaul Jr
This books rests on two assumptions. First, that PTSD has always been with us. Second that, as the title implies, even Achilles might have been traumatized if he had served in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Swordsman
This seems to be the seminal work in PTSD counseling and certainly worth the read if you are a counselor. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Walter Deckert
Bought for a college course. That said, boring. Satisfied the course needs, however.Published 6 months ago by Ida
This is a great piece of work by Dr. Shay. It has added a lot to my knowledge of Moral Injury, and added a lot to my seminars, and work shops at the Sisters of the Benedictine... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brad Dull