After Action: The True Story of a Cobra Pilot's Journey

Dan Sheehan, Author
Dan Sheehan. CreateSpace, $18.95 paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4800-3406-8
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 10/01/2012
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In this sensitive and intensely presented memoir, Sheehan addresses his tours of duty during the Iraq War and the burdens he grappled with as a result. His vivid prose conveys the turmoil and danger of piloting a combat helicopter and the special psychology of fighting, but his real story lies in dealing with the return to "normal" life. Sheehan presents with brutal clarity the illusory assumption that veterans can easily resume their prewar identities, and the impediments that the culture of wartime present to those needing assistance in adjusting to civilian life. Sheehan convincingly argues that other cultures are more attuned to the need for warriors to bear what he calls the "burden of peace." His recognition that his initial sense of being unique in feeling maladjusted was wrong supports his claim that hiding the psychic wounds of combat is common. It is hard to quarrel with his view that the attention given to the extreme cases detracts from the more frequent, if less dramatic, woes of the average veteran. Sheehan's writing and recommendations deserve the attention of anyone interested in this important issue, which is as topical as tomorrow's headlines.
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