Jeremiah and Jessica both were classmates of mine, I was in the same class as Jessica. It was hard reading a book about my classmates and seeing how they've changed, and not for the better. It was like ripping open their lives and dissecting it. So for me it was odd to read this book and think of how I didn't know of them to act the way they were acting in the book.
That being said this book does a good job of describing PTSD through the flash backs, flash forwards, the here and the there, can you throw you for a loop, I would have preferred to read all of what happened in Iraq first and then have some flash backs here and there, that way I could keep track of who is who, who is where, etc. That's the hardest part is remember who is who, there were so many people involved in his life that it gets hard to remember everyone.
Like I said though to me this was a very hard book to read because I'm reading about two people I went to school with and page by page they're changing from what I remembered them as, and it was hard to read that.
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 If 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. Workmans 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 authors 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 soldiers world is like and how combat changes a person. Youll feel the excitement. Youll feel their pain. Youll 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.