Murphy Waggoner's Reviews > The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows

The Long Walk by Brian Castner
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Jun 10, 12

Read in June, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Castner's writing conveys, both through style and content, how all-consuming his job in Iraq was -- the hyper vigilance, the constant assessment of danger, the need to kill -- and how he found it impossible to disengage from that life and reenter his family life when the tour was over. There is no doubt that reentry is difficult, under any circumstances, and VA hospital staff struggle to decide how much of that difficulty is physical or psychological. The answer is a moving target since the methods of war complicate the issue by constantly introducing new physical and emotional trauma. Castner relates his experiences in Iraq and his struggles at home in the context of finding a diagnosis and treatment for his own personal Crazy.

His description of life both inside and beyond the wire is vivid and disturbing. The "Long Walk" is the walk that an Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist takes to a live round or bomb to defuse it. The long walk is also Castner's life. For him, the loss of EOD Brothers did not end with the tour of duty; the terror of the war doesn't end when you step onto U.S. soil. Probably the most frightening images for me in this book are the thoughts that run through the author's mind as he drives his son to day care and watches over him at night.

Castner says that during the writing of the book his wife asked him how he could remember all the details. He responds that he cannot forget the details. The narrative keeps returning to Iraq or to his battle with the Crazy, sometimes suddenly in the middle of another story. While disconcerting at first, I realized that Castner is trying to help us understand what the Crazy is like.

Castner is a talented writer, and this was an emotional read that I won’t soon forget.
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