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Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War Paperback – April 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0807050415 ISBN-10: 0807050415 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807050415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807050415
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this tautly argued study of the link between war-induced post-traumatic stress and suicide, Coleman writes, "It is only recently that I have begun to think of myself as a Vietnam War widow." Coleman's first husband, a fellow photographer and Vietnam veteran, killed himself. "He was hurt in ways I couldn't fix," the author writes, solemnly reflecting on the years she spent blaming him, and then herself. Coleman (Village Elders) expresses dismay at the inadequacies of her generation's and the military's attitude toward its traumatized men. Gathering stark personal testimonies from other similarly bereaved wives, mothers and daughters, she chillingly reveals the hidden cost of war. Further, with force and conviction, she shows how the U.S. military has systematically denied and cynically managed the psychic impact of war on its soldiers, from early experiments with postwar rehabilitation to frontal lobotomies. She profiles psychiatrists, setting their research and innovations in the necessarily limiting context of the military's goals. With searing insights, Coleman also discusses the social engineering involved in the Vietnam era draft and its notions, both implicit and explicit, of "disposable" men. This passionately felt book poses more questions than it can answer, but it will surely generate further attention to a sadly timely subject. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Coleman was once married to a Vietnam veteran who committed suicide rather than live with his horrific war memories, and she asserts that the military hasn't learned the most important lesson of all the last century's wars, that the chance of becoming a psychiatric casualty, of killing oneself due to untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is greater than that of death by enemy fire. Some contend that there have been more Vietnam vet suicides than there are names on The Wall. The risk seems even higher for those serving in Iraq, where the army reports a suicide rate three times greater than normal within its ranks. How does Coleman know the lesson she points out hasn't been learned? For starters, the aforementioned army reporting doesn't associate the suicides with combat but instead blames "underdeveloped life coping skills." Further, Coleman cites many reports and experts substantiating that the military downplays the psychic toll of modern combat and routinely denies veterans' requests for psychiatric medical intervention. Punctuating this alarming presentation is a heavily researched history of what was once called shell shock and the tragic, in-their-own-words stories of 12 women, each of whom is a surviving relative of a Vietnam veteran who committed suicide. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ella Maor on June 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The relevance today of this book is uncomfortably urgent.

I write this review as an israeli however have no desire to use this review as a platform for political opinions. I (like most members of the first world) am busy and concentrate primarily on daily chores. I am not a political activist. I just want to do my work well, go home, play with my children, get the dinner on the table.

However, I need to scream out the importance that Coleman's book focuses on. War- having our husbands, our children, the teachers of our children at schools and so on, living in a situation that effects everyone. That screws up everyone.

We witness the escalation of violence and stress and usually sit back and tsk tsk tsk.

This needs to be addressed and Flashback makes one look directly at this reality. It is much more actual and pertinent to our society than we like to think. In Israel and undoubtedly in the u.s. too, I notice a steady devaluation of human life whilst going along happily with my daily activities.

and the affliction of PTSD.. It isn't a "sexy" or popular topic and in this book Coleman speaks directly, clearly. Approaching the effects of the syndrome via the history and hindsight of Vietnam is central to attaining a perspective that accentuates the relevance, the danger and the fear I have today.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By lee scanlan on June 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
With heart and intelligence, this books explores the multigenerational fallout of many veterans' experience of war. The shrapnel still flies.

From first person narrative to third person expertise...the book engages, informs and infuriates.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alan Kirby on December 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Coleman brings to light the history, causes, and long term impact of war induced PTSD. Her use of first-hand accounts from those who have lost veterans to suicide are an important part of the book, bringing an intimate human reality to the psychological struggles she describes. Coleman cites research from many angles to try to create a clear understanding of PTSD, and focuses especially well on why the Vietnam war was "different" from other wars in it's impact on soldiers.

I also strongly recommend Col. Dave Grossman's "On Killing" as an excellent book with a similar goal--understanding the psychological impact of war on the men who fight it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
FLASHBACK: POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, SUICIDE, AND THE LESSONS OF WAR comes from the author's own experience of marrying a young Vietnam vet who eventually killed himself. He suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder that at the time was little known: while today it's better known, Coleman here has made it her personal mission to portray techniques for battling the disorder, turning a research project into a series of applied strategies essential for any military family. Case histories of other experiences blend with damning evidence of the government's failure to properly respond to and treat the disorder.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Hornik on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book to gather information about 2 items:
- Coping mechanisms families use with members struggling with PTSD
- How families interpret why the member committed suicide.

This book does provide information and examples for these, it also possesses a significant amount of political commentary. If you wish to learn more about PTSD, better resources exist. This book definitely should be read, but keep in mind the author filter information through her lens.
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