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Journey to Myrtos: Vietnam to Crete--Healing the Wounds of War (Take the Long Way Home) Paperback – December 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"You have put into words thoughts that have been kicking around in my head since I first went to Korea in 1953...Your use of the English language to describes scenes and situations is nothing short of pure poetry." (William Schroeder, Korean War vet)

"Hell of a story in every respect, from being close to death to a beautiful opening up of your senuality in Munich...You write with an artistic imaginative sense and a deep sensibility about your own reflections, relationships and ideas."(John Giannini)

"An intimate, confessional perspective...Love, sexuality, and war are illuminated in a picaresque series of adventures, dreams, myths, and personal encounters...Journey to Myrtos should take its place as one of the truly rewarding books to have come out of the Vietnam War and the social upheavals of the 1960s."(John Anderson)

"Mitchell takes readers...to the core of his being. His sense of timing paired with impeccable language do more than paint a picture--they plant us firmly beside him...we feel his joy and his sorrow, and we celebrate the journey." Lynn Stearns

From the Author

An inward journey of initiation and transformation needs much time to incubate, and writing Journey to Myrtos and its sequel The Trials of the Initiate took me 35 years. The three separate manuscripts that I began in 1975, only five years after being discharged from the army, were initially conceived as a way of understanding and dealing with the cathartic psychological changes that are part of every young warrior's experience.
By the early 1980s, all three manuscripts were complete in a first-draft form. Then, I set them aside in order to concentrate on my career as a secondary school teacher--a career that left me little time to write and contemplate the enormous changes to my personality and psyche that had been evoked by my experience in the war.
It was not until I retired from teaching in 2006 that I was able to return to these manuscripts. By that time, I had already written one book about my experience as a teacher and about our "disfunctional" education system in the United States. That book is titled, NURTURING THE SOULS OF OUR CHILDREN: Education and the Culture of Democracy. Oddly enough, my book about the developmental issues of adolescents in American society and the failures of our educational system was a tremendous asset in helping me crystalize some of the basic themes of my two volume memoir about healing the wounds of war, transformation of the warrior spirit and reintegration into American society. 
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Product Details

  • Series: Take the Long Way Home
  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146631303X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466313033
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,723,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1966, I was a twenty year old full-time university student with a good job as an apprentice architect, then I received my draft notice. Why my draft status was suddenly changed from a student deferment to a 1-A draft choice I never knew. After a brief period of denial, I accepted my fate and enlisted in the Army's flight school to become a combat helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. I rationalized that going to war would be a great adventure that would initiate me into manhood.
The war was hell. From my position as a helicopter pilot, and not an infantry ground troop, I saw and knew little of the atrocities that were being committed as a result of command orders to rack up body counts on search and destroy missions in free fire zones. As one infantry soldier put it, massacres like My Lai happening all the time all over the country. I did not participate in any massacres, did not have a face-to-face, kill-or-be-killed confrontation with an enemy warrior and did not fulfill my blood-rite initiation into manhood. As fate would have it, my helicopter crashed after only four months in Vietnam, and I was flown back to the States with traumatic injuries--burns that covered 40% of my body.
I was discharged in 1970, but I did not return immediately to my home town and try to re-integrate into American civil society. I completed my university degree in mathematics just after my discharge, and I planned to go on to graduate school, but I also knew that I needed to heal my soul of the wounds of war before I could fully re-integrate into civil society. Those wounds had been caused by the command structures direct assault on the moral and ethical authority entrusted in me as a warrior--an authority undermined by political policy, strategic initiatives and the tactical operation commands by which the war was conducted. I fled to Europe.
In Germany, I discovered the erotic vitality within myself that had been missing from my upbringing and from my tour under the watchful eyes of military authority and discipline. I discovered my soul. Then, on the Greek island of Crete--Zorba's island--I fell into the Realm of the Mother: the goddess of all our souls, who rules over the twin forces of Love and Death that fight each other in the heart of every warrior. Thus began a 12-year odyssey of healing the wounds of war, transforming the warrior spirit and reintegrating into society.
Here is my story, recounted in two books. Book I, JOURNEY TO MYRTOS: Vietnam to Crete--Healing the Wounds of War, tells of my upbringing, my military training, my combat experience and my coming home. It concludes with that magical meeting with the Mother goddess on Crete that was not an end, but only the beginning of my 12-year odyssey. Book II, THE TRIALS OF THE INITIATE: Transforming the Warrior Spirit, is also an incredible adventure of initiation--an adventure of active imagination and erotic involvement with the world that ultimately fulfilled my initiation into manhood and allowed me to re-integrate into American society without carrying the burden of a scarred and wounded soul.
I can only hope that our young warriors from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will find in my memoir an inspiration for their own lives. I know the wounds they carry--I have been there--and I know, too, that they can heal those wounds within themselves. My message to these young warriors is that healing the wounds of war is an even greater adventure than war itself--just set one foot in front of the other, have faith in the spirit that guides you and let the goddess transform you from a warrior serving death and destruction to an instrument of healing and justice. We are brothers: warriors whose sword is a beacon of light.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By john w. anderson on June 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
Journey to Myrtos: Vietnam to Crete- Healing the Wounds of War
A Memoir by Robert Mitchell (DFC, Vietnam, 1968)
(CreateSpace, 2011)

This wounded soldier's memoir brings us an intimate, confessional perspective on the turbulent decade of the 1960s. Love, sexuality, and war are illuminated in a picaresque series of adventures, dreams, myths, and personal encounters. Together they register stages in the author's youthful, growing awareness. Mitchell, who was decorated with a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in Vietnam, calls his autobiographical narrative a memoir. True enough, like a memoir, it traces a number of formative years in the author's life. It takes him from age eleven in the late 1950s in an Illinois cornfield, through military training as a helicopter pilot in Alabama and Texas, and on to its emotional and dramatic center: combat duty in Vietnam. It leaves him at the age twenty-five in 1971, in a small village on the south shore of Crete. A sequel is promised, as we are told that this is "Book 1 of a Two-Book Memoir."
But like an essay, or perhaps a labyrinth, the book also has a strong polemical thread of opposition to the Vietnam War and to modern American militarism in general. This polemical thread weaves challenging, often disturbing, ideas about the war's causes and effects in American society. These are either embedded in the narrative, openly stated by the author, or articulated in sharp, probing dialogues. The master thread of Mitchell's story, however, is perhaps best seen as a spiritual autobiography; or, if viewed through a Jungian psychological perspective with which the author shows his familiarity, as an inner quest for authenticity and wholeness, for what Jung called "individuation.
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Format: Paperback
I am not one who reads books on the military or memoirs of solders, but these two volumes grabbed my attention because these memoirs go deeper than most. Robert Mitchell describes his journey from the start of his active duty in the Vietnam War to an eventual awareness of the authentic warrior spirit. The beginning of his searching started when he was wounded in Vietnam in a helicopter crash and spent 10 months recovering in the burn ward at Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Later he embarked on a journey of healing and transformation recounted in his book.

The journey took him to the village of Myrtos in Greece. He uses the Greek words Eros and Thanatos instead of Love and Death. In ancient Greece Eros and Thanatos were ruled over by the Mother goddess. The conflict between them plays out in the soul, and book one ends with his entry into that inner realm of conflict.

The first volume of this memoir, JOURNEY TO MYRTOS, is his story of coming home from war. Thus, it is a story relevant to all veterans who have returned from our wars in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. His objective is to help civilians understand the intensity of the inner conflict of the returning warrior. It is a classic conflict between Love and Death, evident in our literature and our arts, that has a particularly intense and personal meaning for war veterans.

The story told in book two, THE TRIALS OF THE INITIATE: Transforming the Warrior Spirit, is best summed up by psychologist James Hillman in his classic book, A Terrible Love of War. He says, "In learning to serve the goddess--the protector of the people and the land--the warrior is transformed [from a servant of the god of war] into an instrument of justice and healing.
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By Masters on September 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
In Journey To Myrtos: Vietnam to Crete -- Healing the Wounds of War, Mitchell takes readers not only to an assortment of physical locations, but also to the core of his being. His sense of timing paired with impeccable language do more than paint a picture -- they plant us firmly beside him as he walks into a cornfield in Illinois, feeling the plowed earth squishing up between his toes. We are by his side in a hospital in Japan, where doctors pull dead, burned skin away from raw muscle tissue after his helicopter crashed. We travel to New Orleans with him, and observe a "sideshow of life" and to Munich, where people are reveling in all of the excesses of their Eros spirits. We explore his Celtic roots in the British Isles as if they were our roots, and in a hippie commune in Myrtos, we feel his joy and his sorrow, and we celebrate the journey.
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By Michael J. Dalton on October 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just Ok. Not what I exopected
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