Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Clint Van Winkle, Author
Clint Van Winkle, Author . St. Martin’s $24.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-312-37893-6
Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Paperback - 213 pages - 978-0-312-60296-3
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This memoir of combat in Iraq, and the post-traumatic stress disorder that followed, contains more literary touches than most, and it’s an admirable effort. Marine sergeant Van Winkle (who earned an M.A. in creative writing after returning from Iraq) emphasizes that every marine’s desire was not to spread freedom but to come home alive, and while the book describes some firefights, there are even more incidents of Van Winkle and his comrades blazing away at vehicles or distant figures only to discover they had killed civilians. After discharge, fearful memories and violent rages drove him to seek help from a surprisingly unhelpful V.A., but the passage of time, a few sympathetic therapists and a loving wife set him right. The text jumps back and forth between Van Winkle’s war experiences and postwar life, when marines from his unit, some dead, reappear to badger him. Most readers will forgive this exercise in creative writing techniques because it presents a vivid picture of what many vets endure. (Mar.)

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