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Sparta: A Novel Hardcover – June 4, 2013
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“One of the many strengths of this engaging story is that Robinson doesn't treat post-traumatic stress disorder with that nifty abbreviation, PTSD, neatly buttoning it in place. Instead, she shows us a more insidious, layered and complex mix of debilitating psychological wounds, many of them sharpened by the stonishing contrast between driving the explosive roads of a war zone and walking down a crowded New York street.” ―The New York Times
“Digital Age with Jim Zirin: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeN1w8v0rzQ” ―Jim Zirin, Digital Age
“The great power of the novel lies in its ability to make Conrad into something both idiosyncratic and authentic, but at the same time, indicative of much larger truths.” ―Los Angeles Review of Books
“Roxana Robinson's Sparta delicately explores the fissures between the military experience and civilian life with this portrait of a liberal northeastern family and what happens when their son, a young Marine lieutenant, returns home from Iraq irrevocably changed. This book is not simply about war, but about the horror and enforced isolation of trauma, the inevitable merging of the personal and the political, and the possibilities and trials found within the bonds of familial and romantic love.” ―Phil Klay, author of "Redeployment"
“Roxana Robinson's Sparta is a feat of the imagination. Vividly and with unflinching wisdom, Robinson has given voice, substance, and profound reality to her protagonist, Conrad Farrell of the Marine Corps--and in so doing, to thousands of veterans like him.” ―Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor's Children
“Sparta gives us an unflinching portrayal of the costs of war, costs that go far beyond what the tallies of killed and wounded can tell us. There are plenty of losses that can be measured only in the language of the spirit, and it's books such as this one, necessary books, that guide us to a fuller appreciation of war's costs.” ―Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
“One of our best writers.” ―The Washington Post on Roxana Robinson
“Both lyrical and unsentimental, richly honest and humane.” ―The Wall Street Journal on Roxana Robinson
“An intelligent, sensitive analyst of family life.” ―Chicago Tribune on Roxana Robinson
More About the Author
Robinson was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She attended Bennington College and graduated from the University of Michigan. She worked in the art world, specializing in the field of American painting, before she began writing full-time. Her most recent novel, Sparta, won the James Webb Award for Distinguished Fiction from the USMC Heritage Foundation. Her previous novel, Cost, received the Fiction Award from the Maine Publishers and Writers Association. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper's, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the NBCC Balakian Award for Criticism and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She teaches at Hunter College, is a former member of the board of PEN, and is currently the President of the Authors Guild.
Top Customer Reviews
Now we have a new classic. Roxana Robinson in Sparta has accomplished an understanding of PTSD with such intricate complexity that the book amazed me.
The author takes us on a journey through the life of the returning soldier, Marine Lieutenant Conrad Farrell, who joined the military after studying classics at Williams College. We are introduced to the history of Sparta, its connection to Farrell's classics studies and the enlistee's unusual decision to serve a higher purpose by joining the Marines. This naïve patriotism/idealism sired by the Greek classics rebounded on him and his family in ways that he never could have understood before his enlistment unless, of course, if he had read the Vietnam classics.
Farrell becomes an officer at Quantico where he begins to learn the art of shunning those who do not fit in. The military teaches you to despise before it teaches you to kill. If it does not teach that lesson well, a soldier cannot kill and expect to ever again regain a measure of mental stabily. Robinson describes this in one amazing narration.
Conrad's training leads him to Iraq in the years between 2003-2006 where he is subjected to the trauma of war as a victim and an avid participant.Read more ›
The book kept me keyed up throughout. I was almost as unnerved as the MC. It's beautifully written. The family dynamics are well drawn. The description of PTSD through the MC was both touching and troubling. The ending seemed a little abrupt though. I thought it could have wound down just a little more slowly for the reader to take a breath or two.
It is also very repetitive, too focused on trivia and laden with heavy-handed political content.
Now a volunteer military fights the wars of the marginal wars. They are admired and honored as the heroes of our culture, but the culture has no idea of their missions and lives in combats. Iraq is portrayed as a war that destroyed a culture and a country. Politics are touched upon, but more centrally developed is the impact of an overwhelming modern force on the lives of the villages and local insurgencies. It is a war demanding the soldier, or in this case Marine, dehumanize the enemy. It is a war that fuses units into families that surge together in missions holding threat at every turn. It is a war that exposes the soul to images of innocent death of enemy and ally. Life is lived on the edge.
What happens when such a man returns home? Cal has been the shining boy, and mistakes the pre-9/11 Marines as a step of demarcation to enter the world of man. Instead he returns four years later at home nowhere. As a therapist, I have met these men. As a reader, it deepens the conundrum of the boy made to kill who returns to a naive and ill guarded peacetime society. He is from an empathetic and liberal family who struggles at every point to meet him and his needs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Roxana Robinson's SPARTA is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking literary fiction that kept me reading late into the night, And as I got closer and closer to the book's end, I began to... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Timothy J. Bazzett
Shared with my book club. Loved the detailed descriptions and how the history of this war was woven into the novel.Published 1 month ago by North Maine Woods
compelling view through the eyes of a returning iraqi war veteran. not a hint of sentimentality.Published 4 months ago by Donnie
I enjoyed reading this novel because the author made all the characters so real, I felt their pain. I cried several times because the pain was so raw. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Evelyn Mirabella
In Sparta, Roxana Robinson gets so precisely into the main character’s mind that every sentence is eviscerating. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Carrie B Esposito
Well written, powerful novel. Difficult to read about the violence but it makes you understand PTSD.Published 8 months ago by Ada
Epic. This book explores a class of family and lifestyle not often explored in literary war fiction--a family that seemingly has all the resources it needs, yet that still cannot... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Katey Schultz
This is, simply, one of the best books I have ever read (and I read A LOT!) The author takes us inside the mind, body and soul of a brave ex modern day warrior, and the roller... Read morePublished 9 months ago by SLB