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Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey of War, Heroism, and Redemption Hardcover – September 15, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A raw, heartfelt story of how a man of valor lost his bearings and eventually found the courage to share his story. Shadow of the Sword leaves you hoping and cheering for the happy ending that Workman deserves."—Bing West, author of The Strongest Tribe

"In writing this moving and incredibly honest book, Workman shows at least as much courage as he did in Fallujah. His story gives hope to anyone who struggles that they, too, can overcome if they just keep fighting—one day at a time, one battle at a time, one victory at a time."—Donovan Campbell, author of Joker One

"Workman shows unflinching honesty and gut twisting bravery by sharing with us his complicated journey to normalcy after his seemingly endless battle through hell. This may be the most important book of our Warrior generation and proves that Workman deserves to be in a separate class of American hero." —David Bellavia, author of House to House

"A searing account…In its depiction of combat, Shadow of the Sword ranks with Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor."—Wall Street Journal

"This superior addition to the literature on the Iraq War is an exceptionally vivid account of combat and its aftermath…[Workman] provides a harrowing level of detail about the combat…Workman's testimony gives hope that those suffering the nightmare of PTSD can free themselves sufficiently to avoid becoming additional casualties of the current war."—Booklist

About the Author

Jeremiah Workman, an eight-year combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, received his honorable discharge as a staff sergeant in 2009. He is the recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest medal for valor. Workman has been profiled in The Washington Post and USA Today, has appeared on Fox News and CNN, and spent a month in 2008 traveling the country as a featured speaker with the Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour. His final assignment in the Marine Corps was with the Wounded Warrior Regiment, helping injured veterans. He lives in Virginia with his wife and young son.

John R. Bruning is the author or co-author of ten books, including Ghost, The Devil’s Sandbox, House to House, and How to Break a Terrorist. He lives in Oregon with his wife and children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034551212X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345512123
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on 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).
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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.
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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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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.
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