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

The Long Walk by Brian Castner
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Aug 22, 2012

it was amazing
Read in August, 2012

"The first thing you should know about me is that I'm crazy." The author, a bronze star decorated former EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) specialist who served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them as the commander of an EOD unit. If you want to be impressed by a person, read this book. No, not because he's a "hero." (I hate that overused word!) Read this book so you can meet a man who writes so vividly that it's practically impossible to put this book down. Meet a man who is passionate about what he did, who conveys the excitement, the adrenaline rush so thoroughly that for a moment - fleeting - but a moment, you are just a little envious. One of his buddies says that he never felt so alive as when his life was in danger. Another says he will keep coming back as long as they'll let him because "my brothers" are here. You will also accompany him to a funeral of one of his closest friends, run with him and his friend, Ricky, as he tries to outrun the "crazy" that won't leave. He describes it as a spider in his head. Talk about a gruesome yet vivid metaphor - I can still picture that spider as he describes it. In fact, I may DREAM about that spider tonight. We're with him as they defuse bombs - or go on a mission to find bomb making materials, but fail spectacularly because the intel was wrong. (When he comes back from the mission empty handed he is told "You have the blood of soldiers on your hands.") Meet "Murphy's Law," a totem consisting of a stick with a gorilla head on the top where "offerings" in the form of beer, cigarettes and porn magazines are made in the hopes that "Murphy's Law" won't kick in when they are out in the field and suddenly discover they are missing something they thought they packed. You'll laugh, but only for a moment. While riding through the town, Castner has seen stand after stand selling watermelons. Finally, he can't stand it, and, in full combat gear, jumps down and buys two watermelons from a local farmer. Later that night they drink beer and eat watermelon, spitting out the seeds like teenage boys. It's when he describes being at home that is the most heart-wrenching. He fights the "crazy" every day by running, by visits to the military hospital, by taking yoga classes. In one scene, he describes looking at his sleeping two week old son. He describes in way too vivid detail what horrible things could happen to him. He spends that night on the steps, holding his rifle, guarding his son from harm. This is riveting. Don't miss it.
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