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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This non-fiction account of Sgt. Jeremiah Workman, an Ohioan Marine veteran of the Iraq war and the Dec. 23, 2004 battle in Fallujah, is one of the most impressive and yet harrowing accounts of war I've ever read. With able assistance from John R. Bruning, Workman brings to life the terror and heroic responses of U.S. Marines in current-day battle and honors through retelling many dramatic historic events and traditions of past generations, who died fighting some of America's most brutal enemies.

Meanwhile, Workman weaves in his encounters with personal demons born in Fallujah. For his heroism in that grisly battle against Jihadists, Workman received the Navy Cross for heroism --- "the highest award for bravery" the U.S. gives to servicemen, and second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was awarded to only 18 men since 9/11, most of them posthumously.

Like all survivors of trauma that killed family or friends, however, Workman felt unworthy. He felt that in reality, his deceased best friends, fallen in Fallujah --- Montana cut-up Raleigh Smith, Hoosier Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg and fellow Mustang-lover James Phillips --- had earned the medal given to him. So had the other surviving Marines --- Bronx-born Phillip Levine (who lost family on 9/11), Cpl. Steve Snell, Lance Cpl. Jason Flannery, Sgt, Sam Gardiola, Smith's best friend Jerrad Hebert, and Sergeant Jarrett Kraft (a non-commissioned officer whose WWII and FBI veteran grandfather blessed the returning Workman in Navajo "for protecting my grandson"), and others.

As heroic as were Workman's battlefield efforts, all the more so are his descriptions of the causes, effects and difficulties of recovering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). This diagnosis, officially accepted by the medical community only in 1980, affects hundreds of thousands of veterans of foreign wars, from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. It also effects hundreds of thousands of rape victims, and undoubtedly millions of abandoned children worldwide, whether they've been adopted or not.

Repeated exposure to extreme trauma or stress, like battle (or abuse), causes repeated adrenaline rushes --- literally infusing victims with drugs, albeit naturally and internally induced. "In Iraq," Workman writes, "we lived on the edge. Our bodies grew accustomed to the daily adrenaline infusion combat gave us. I became a junkie...." Upon his return home, Workman "went into withdrawal."

Incredibly, Workman constructs his story in such a way that readers experience his battlefield traumas alongside he and his Marine brothers. We know as little going into the thick of battle in the high-end Fallujah mansion of a former Ba'athist official as Workman and his fellow Marines. We know only that the men are "mopping up" --- searching for arms caches and Mujahadeen cells, when suddenly he and at least 10 other U.S. Marines are caught in a fierce firefight whose origin and perpetrators they cannot discern. Deadly AK-47 firing thickens in the approach to the grand home, and intensive "kill zones" surround the fence and inside that, cover portions of its thick, surreal suburban lawn. Firepower sprays the entrance --- as well as the marble foyer and cement and marble stairwell leading to the second floor, where two or three, maybe more, U.S. Marines are suddenly trapped.

Only as he nears the present day does Workman finally reveal the sum total of the events --- with summaries from the perspectives of several surviving Marines who approached the house from different angles. Thus, readers can see, hear, and feel the flying bullets, bits of shrapnel and pieces of concrete and marble breaking off the stairs. Thus we can almost smell the black smoke, and feel ourselves scorched by home-made incendiary bombs in fierce 110 degree heat that alone can consume a man's breath. Workman killed more than 24 jihadists during the fight in which he also he lost three men. But he thought for a very long time that he had killed no one, and the fight had been for naught. That thinking also induced a sense of shame and guilt that he had survived and his friends had not.

Shadow of the Sword brings to life the horrors of war --- and the psychological horrors of post traumatic stress disorder, however it was caused. This is a book that readers will never forget, whether they are also veterans, PTSD victims of another sort, family of PTSD victims, or simply Americans with pride for their country, and thanks for the young men and women of the U.S. Armed forces.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it is one of the effects of having been in, and survived combat. People who have experienced combat situations can experience it as a result of the immense tension and stress of combat. Because you are doing things and seeing things that are violent, gory, and very intense, your brain reacts to the shock and fatigue with this reaction. I do not like the use of the term disorder, because it has very negative implications about the sufferers, but there are significant implications to the people who are affected by PTSD and their families and friends.

This book is about the PTSD that affected one particular solider. He is a marine who fought in the tough urban environment of Fallujah in Iraq. As a Corporal, he commanded a section of Marines as they were engaged in house clearing operations in that city. On one of their patrols, his platoon ran into an intense fire fight that lasted over three hours and resulted in three of his mates being killed. Corporal Workman's heroism during the fire fight was astounding and resulted in him being awarded the Navy Cross which is the second highest medal given for heroism under fire, second only to the Medal of Honor. While Workman did all that he could possibly do, three Marines died and he suffered from PTSD as a result.

This entire book is written as a first person account of what PTSD feels like to one of its victims. The chapters are short and they bounce around between events in Workman's life after he comes back from Iraq, and flashbacks to those three hours of the battle. It actually starts with a nightmare sequence that Workman has when he is already in the States as a way to set the stage. The writing style is perfectly suited to the story it tells. Workman was paired up with a writer to help him in getting this story out and their collaboration is obviously successful. The whole book is written in very short sentences which help bring the urgency and the insanity of what was taking place to life. Even the chapters that deal with Workman's struggles with PTSD after he comes back from Iraq are in that style so that it is clear to the reader how this affects his life. There are plenty of anecdotes of how the malady affected his life and he ties his experiences back to many others that he meets in a very effective manner to help in understanding what he is going through. Another interesting thing that the writer puts in is a set of text in italics which represents the conflicting emotions and thoughts that go through Workman's brain and body as he describes the situations he is living through.

As the book goes along we note that we are approaching a twin climax. On the one hand, we find out more and more about what happened that day in Fallujah, with a clearer understanding of just exactly what took place there and why the fight was as brutal and deadly as it was. On the other hand, we are witnessing the climax of Workman's battle with PTSD and how he manages to work his way to a situation that he states means "coming to terms with it". He knows that it will never go away - but he is also determined to not let it affect his relationships with other Marines, his wife, or other people that he comes in contact with.

This is a very honest portrayal of what took place in the battlefield and in his life. It is not hiding much, nor does it try to glorify what took place. All of which makes for some very intense reading and difficult passages to get through. This is not one of those memoirs that glorify war and the people who fight in it. It is much more meaningful as an explanation of what PTSD is and how it affects a person than anything else. Many of the passages brought tears to my eyes as I realized the full horror of what he is experiencing and living through. This is a book that should be read by mature individuals who want to understand how wars and combat affect some of the people who fight them. I feel a richer understanding of PTSD as a result of reading this book, and I am a veteran myself.
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on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Co-written with John Bruning, Jeremiah Workman's autobiographical account of his combat duty in Iraq - and his subsequent personal battle against the devastating effects of war-induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - is a riveting tale of one man's struggle against an enemy without, that breeds an even more dangerous enemy within. Shifting back and forth between his service with the Marines in Fallujah and his desperate attempts to put his life back together upon his return to the U.S., Workman writes with uncommon candor, honesty and insight about his harrowing experiences, turbulent emotions and damaged psyche. Workman's ordeal is deeply affecting, all the more so because - as he makes abundantly clear - he is but one of tens of thousands of brave soldiers who risked their lives and have sacrificed their psychological well-being for the love and safety of their country.

I highly recommend this book without reservation to any and all readers who wish to gain a better understanding about the true nature of modern day combat, and of the dedicated men and women who choose to serve in the armed forces. "Shadow of the Sword" could not have been an easy book for Workman to write, and he is to be congratulated on a difficult and important job very well performed.
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VINE VOICEon August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are a million "cold steel and hot lead" memiors out there. This is one of the very few books that deals directly with both battle, which often lasts mere hours, and its aftermath, which lasts lifetimes.

Superficially put, SHADOW OF THE SWORD is about the events that led to Marine S/Sgt. Jeremiah Workman being awarded the Navy Cross after his return from Iraq. In reality, however, it is two stories: what really happened that day in Fajullah, when his squad bumped into 40 heavily armed and coked-up insurgents ready to fight to the death; and how Workman deals with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), called in other wars "shell shock", "battle fatigue" or, most notoriously, "lack of moral fibre." The reader will perhaps be a bit surprised (or maybe not) to know that while the military does the utmost to prepare its troops for combat, until very recently, it had neither understanding nor any particular interest in preparing them for the mental and emotional aftermath. So perhaps you could say SHADOW is three stories:

1. The fight against the insurgents.
2. The fight against PTSD.
3. The fight to educated the military and the general public about PTSD.

All three of Workman's battles are brutal and difficult to read about. The chaotic firefight in Iraq goes on and on in a hell of deafening noise and confusion. The terrible physical and mental effects of PTSD wreck Workman's marriage and push him to the brink of suicide. And the struggle to get the hypermasculinzed culture of the Marine Corps to acknowledge that even the toughest devil-dog may be driven to his knees by psychological stress...that may be the toughest one of all. This book ain't for he faint of heart, and it certainly isn't for saps who think movies like "Inglourious Basterds" or "Where Eagles Dare" do anything but insult the memory of our fighting men. This shows war for what it is -- sometimes necessary, but incredibly brutal, almost unutterably ugly and deeply scarring to the people who survive. Not a f-ing joke to be made mock of by people who've never been shot at.

Different people will have different takes on this book. Antiwar activists will certainly find a lot of grist for their mill, while lovers of combat memiors will enjoy the shot-by-shot recount of the battle. Some may be surprised at Workman's willingness to tackle the Marine Corps' manly-man ethos head-on, while others will be appalled at the indifference and even cruelty his wife showed him when he was in Iraq. But mostly, this book is valuable for the education it gives on PTSD. On the day you read this review, 18 veterans will kill themselves because of it, and we should all thank S/Sgt. Workman for doing what he can to turn that hideous number into a zero.
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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is a rare privilege when I read a book that not only touches my soul, but changes the way I perceive the world and shakes the foundation of my world to my very core. I am not talking about the way a Stephen Covey book can get you ahead in the business world, I am talking about a book that changes the truths of life as you know it.

Shadow Of The Sword is the autobiographical account of Sgt. Jerimiah Workman, a 25 year old Marine. The story of Sgt. Workman could have very well been another headline to me. He served our fine nation valiantly in a battle in Fallujah, Iraq on December 23, 2004. Despite being wounded, he led three offensive assaults against a numerically superior hostile force to come to the aid of ambushed Marines. Despite the fearless efforts of Sgt Workman and the rest of his platoon, 3 Marines lost their lives in the battle. For his heroic efforts, Sgt Workman was awarded the Navy Cross, the nations second highest award. Had the story stopped here, I probably would have nodded and wrote a glowing review of what a hero this man was for his actions in battle and how well the book was written, just to toss the book in a pile and forget about the story by the time I picked up my next book to read.

However, Sgt. Workman's actions are really a secondary point in this book. The main point of the book is the battle that happens after the fighting is over. When the smoke cleared, the bullets stopped flying, and the screams silenced, the war went on for Sgt. Workman. Shortly after Sgt. Workman rotated back home, he was diagnosed with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His fight with the disorder is the main topic of the book. Sgt. Workman describes what is going through his mind and how he attempts to cope with the disorder on his own. After a public "breakdown", he is directed to a naval hospital where he is given a lifeline with dealing with his own private hell. However, the lifeline is a series of anti-depressants and addictive anxiety medications, which become their own demon he must battle. In the end, Sgt. Workman gets his life together and begins to dedicate time and effort to showing his brothers and sisters in arms the path he took to become functional once again.

I have never had the honor of serving in uniform and I have never been in any sort of battle where the loser dies. So why did this book touch me so? I look at Sgt. Workman and realized I could have been him. War is glamorized by Hollywood and books. The American public has an unrealistic expectation that their children, siblings, spouses, and parents go to war and come back the same person. At 25 years old, the author's life make a train wreck seem like a glorious occasion. This young man gave his all for God, country, and his fellow Marines, and he is pretty much tossed to the side, seemingly considered damaged goods by the government he fought to protect. However, Sgt. Workman had the courage to not only live another day, but to honor the memories of those who fell in the battle of Fallujah with his life, pull himself back together mentally and physically, and reach out and show others that they are not alone. All soldiers hurt and there is no shame in saying "I need help to deal with my pain". Mr. Workman is the person who people should strive to be. Not because he is a war hero, but because he was able to help others in their most desperate of hours, both on the battle field and after the fight was over.

If you, a friend, or a loved one is a soldier, I can not stress how much I would recommend this book. If you are considering going into the military, I think it would be worth your time reading this book so you can learn what the recruiter and Hollywood never told you. This book provided an excellent glimpse of what a soldier's world is like and how combat changes a person. You'll feel the excitement. You'll feel their pain. You'll experience their highs and their lows. Of all the military books I have read, this is the book that actually made me feel what it was like to be a soldier.
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VINE VOICEon August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jeremiah Workman is not only one admirable Marine, but he's also a tremendous human being. He has written an absolutely awesome book.

Not only is the writing crisp and unflinching, the story behind it is riveting and gut-wrenching. What we ask of our soldiers!

I found this book to be among the very best that show the mental and emotional devastation that enduring fierce combat brings upon a soldier. Workman describes the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that he now lives with, (for those of us who remember vinyl records) as like a groove in a record which gets stuck, and plays the same note over and over again. Once the groove is there, it cannot be removed.

Workman shows the reader, in gory detail, what his life as a Marine has been like, from training at Parris Island, to his mind-blowing tour in Iraq, especially the battle in Fallujah that claimed so many of his buddies, and left him with severe survivor guilt. He shows us what it was like for him, as he became a drill instructor back again at Parris Island, and his PTSD shifted into high gear.

I learned so many things from reading this book. Like what the life of a drill instructor is like, and the fact that they have one of the highest divorce rates in the Marine Corps. And that the VA had only planned for 8,000 cases of PTSD, and there will be more than 700,000 thousand cases of it by the time the war ends.

Only now we're also sending more troops to Afghanistan. There is truly no end in sight. What a wave of anguish is washing over our country. And yet denial continues. It continues in the American public.

And for so many reasons, it continues in our soldiers themselves, until the pain grows so severe, the problem can no longer be denied. Even then, not all of those needing help seek it from the VA. And who pays the price along with our soldiers? It's the spouses, children and other family members.

This book has astounded me with its brutal candor. What guts this American hero and recipient of the Navy Cross, displays as he bares his soul to us. Parts of this book made me weep. I will never forget this young American soldier, or the price he and his family have paid for our freedom. May he and his loved ones, somehow find the peace they have truly earned.

Workman tells us that by joining the Vets for Freedom Heroes tour in 2008 and speaking about his experiences, he has started the healing process. In sharing, he continues to serve our country, holding up a mirror to us.

Every American should read this book, so that each citizen will be more understanding and compassionate toward our returning combat veterans. And also understand that we owe them and must provide, all the help they need. And that we will begin to truly realize that the aftereffects of war can be just as consequential, as the initial battles.

I applaud Jeremiah Workman and his family for all they have given up for us, and for the fact that he is determined to make the most of his life, in spite of PTSD. I wish them all the best.

I pray that his story goes a long way in eradicating the shame that stills accompanies those afflicted with PTSD, especially our soldiers. He has shone a hopeful light on this deadly serious subject. Very, very, highly recommended reading!!
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on March 29, 2016
This is a poignant autobiography of a U. S. Marine who still suffers from PTSD as a result of his combat experience. It is good that the government is finally recognizing that there is such a thing as PTSD and they are actually trying to address it in their own bumbling, inept bureaucratic way. I am glad that Sergeant Workman is able to work on getting his PTSD under control and is working hard at turning his life around. I wish him every success in his long road to recovery.
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VINE VOICEon July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Just a few hours of combat can change the rest of your life. It is difficult for those of us who have not known it to understand how traumatic war really is, and Navy Cross winner Jeremiah Workman does a good job of conveying the pain and guilt he suffered after returning from Iraq. Utilizing a professional ghost writer and short chapters, Sgt. Workman tells a story of Fallujah close-quarters combat interwoven with marital strife and post-traumatic stress disorder so crippling that an unmown blade of grass on a barracks lawn sends him into flashbacks that are real enough to supplant reality. Workman notes that as of 2004, the VA reported that 25,000 WWII veterans were still undergoing treatment for PTSD. Even sixty years beyond the beaches of Normandy, men are still struggling to cope with the things they saw while battling the Axis. With the U.S. still engaged in two wars, we are creating more sufferers of PTSD every day, and Sgt. Workman's book is compelling and relevant to understanding the difficulties many veterans and their families will face in the decades ahead.
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on October 6, 2009
As a Marine Iraq veteran myself, I found this book very comforting. Comforting in the sense that I am not the only "Crazy" walking around with no feelings.
I commend Staff Sergeant Workman on his words and complete honesty. It helps me walk through my many nights, knowing there are others out there suffering from PTSD. I am not alone.
I hold my head high and continue each day!

Semper Fi,

Sgt. Miki Padgett
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on June 13, 2014
I more than liked the extreme lengths taken by the majority of the Marines to face death for one another. Empathizing for our warriors inflicted with PTSD is very insightful in a gut wrenching way. No one knows better than someone who has lived it! Support our warrior brothers and sisters through Wounded Warriors and by purchasing this book.
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