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The Dead Drink First

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,721 ratings  ·  405 reviews
Like many veterans of his era, Sgt. Steve Maharidge never talked about “the good war.” On the surface, the Maharidges were a normal working-class family in the suburbs of Cleveland. But behind closed doors, even the most mundane moments could trigger Steve’s violent, traumatic episodes, which left his son Dale searching for clues to his past. And yet, there was only one: a ...more
Audible Audio, 4 pages
Published June 6th 2019 by Audible Studios
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,721 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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This is an interesting short story about how WWII affected the lives of returning veterans and their families. Dale Maharidge grew up with a Marine veteran father who suffered from rages and abusive alcoholism but rarely spoke about the war. Steve Maharidge had a photo of himself and a marine buddy on the wall but never spoke of it except to say he was dead and it was his fault. After the death of his father, Dale set out to find out about Mulligan and his father. This project took many years an ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
My 3000th "read" on Goodreads

Audiobook narrated by author. 3h 31mins 47 secs

My Audible original selection for June was the type of audio documentary that I just love to listen to and wholeheartedly recommend to others.

It all begins with a picture that has hung on Dale Maharidge's parents wall for years of his father with another Marine in Guam. It leads him on an emotional rollercoaster ride to tell PFC Mulligan's story. The documentary is infused with interviews of the people that help Dale a
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent story. 18 years of trying to identify and bring home a soldier who died in the Battle of Okinawa culminates in a beautiful ending. Hearing family members and surviving veterans share their stories are touching. Themes of abuse and psychological trauma are central to the story, so be aware if you have triggers to emotional and (some) physical abuse.
I do love my historical books every now and then.

The Dead Drink First had an interesting title. Then when I realized what it was about, well I couldn't say no to picking up this audible original. I absolute love and enjoy reading or listening to anything historical. The one thing I did like about this one were the interviews. It made thins more interesting to hear about what happened while they were there and how their lives changed once they came back.

I loved the journey that the Dale took. He
Jay DeMoir
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A touching story. glad the author included voices of the people he interviewed. gave the story more depth.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
A touching audio documentary on a son's journey to understanding his father's raging PTSD through bringing home the body of a WWII hero.

I so appreciate that Dale Maharidge created a touching tribute to fallen military men and women without feeling the need to make this a political statement. I feared he was start to spin it as an anti-war tirade (Don't get me wrong. I despise wars. I just don't believe there's no such thing as needed wars. If ever there was a needed war, WWII would be the prime
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting history and research not only about WWII, but also about PTSD and TBI. Dale Maharidge's telling narration included actual audio footage of interviews from his research and inquiry. While this definitely made the information more authentic, the listening was disjointed as the quality of the recordings varied making them hard to hear at times due to feedback in the equipment or differing volumes. I often felt like I was listening to a documentary that was on TV in another room. ...more
Tom Walsh
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an amazing story of a persistent search for a missing WWII soldier over the course of many years. The most interesting parts to me were not so much the effort to recover Mulligan but the interviews with the surviving soldiers that served with him.

“There’s no such thing as a good war” was the refrain repeated over and over again in the voices of these old soldiers.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Just an amazingly affecting look at the survivors, the victims and the resonances of 'the good war' (no such thing, as the soldiers would tell you). Narrated with respect for the dead and pathos for the living and a triumphant message for the war can ever be won. A message that scum like John Bolton and Trumpites may learn if they had the heart to listen to the veterans and victims of world war II. ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The Dead Drink First” is an original audible production written by and narrated by the Pulitzer Prize winner Dale Maharidge. It’s three and a half hours long, and one of the most profound memoirs I’ve experienced. He writes of his father, a WWII veteran, who was abusive to his family with a hair-trigger anger.

Dale wanted to find out what happened to his father in WWII that changed his personality into the man that Dale remembers. Maharidge goes on a quest to find out who one of his father’s wa
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and in the painful odyssey.

I can relate to this. Though not quite as violent, my dad was also damaged by that war. He was filled with rage and refused to talk about it. He wasn't in the Pacific War. He fought his way with the Canadian Army all the way from Sicily up the Italian Peninsula to the Po Valley. Then he got his terrible injury in the Netherlands. The army lost track of him because he had lost his dog tags and was unable to identify himself for a couple of weeks. His family
Linda Kalies
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting and poignant story but I didn’t care for the use of the recorded interviews. Hard to hear and understand.
Not your traditional book, but more like a documentary in audio form about WWI, PTSD, and TBI and the effects on the families in addition to the victims. In his 18-year quest for closure and healing about his father's past, the author ends up finding the remains of the man in the photo with his dad. In the end, he not only found healing and closure for himself and his brother, but others who helped in his quest ended up finding their own healing. A powerful and very touching story. ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and touching. Also took me back to my time serving on Okinawa.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My father was a Korean War veteran, an ex-POW. I’ll never understand what he went through, mostly because he never talked about it. Some of his fellow ex-POWs told me some things, but my father didn’t want to discuss them. Towards the end of his life, he discussed some of what happened to him before and after the war, but nothing directly pertaining to his experiences or the damage done to him, physically or mentally.

I salute Dale Maharidge for honoring the memory of his father, Sgt. Steve Maha
Kimba Tichenor
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
As several others have noted the story is powerful as it demythologizes the soldier’s experience of WWII, but the incorporation of old phone interviews simply does not work because the quality of the audio is so bad that one cannot understand half of what is being said. After a while, this becomes extremely annoying and detracts from the overall presentation.
Sarah Wilson
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘A nation who forgets their dead has no future.’

This production really spoke to me as a veteran myself and a descendent of several military members. I was touched by the care and passionate determination taken by the author to bring this service member home. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer - My father was a merchant marine; thus, I am part military brat. Also, I was in my early 20s when my father was diagnosed with TBI, not from active combat but from a work related accident. Needless to say, the world as I knew it came to a sudden end and every day since we have to learn to live with what is left.

This audiobook does a fantastic job of making TBI real... for those who have never had to live with the aftermath of losing a loved one who is still alive but most important i
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audies
Excellent read!
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing true story in a short 3.5 hour audiobook. I received this as a free download from Audible. I highly recommend it!
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’d give it six stars if I could.

This review is for the Audible exclusive audiobook version, which I highly recommend as you get to hear interviewees in their own voices, which is powerful.

A story about the author and his journey to reconcile his childhood with a father who he thought was simply crazy, but he now realizes had traumatic injuries, both physical and emotional, during WWII in Okinawa. Part of this journey, a large and important part, was the author seeking to bring home the remains
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-reads, audiobooks
This Audible Original was more of a documentary than a book, but wow. An incredible story about what it means to be human and honor our fallen.
Jill Hallenbeck
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book
Outstanding story of how the author "found" the body of WWII PFC Mulligan who died in an explosion on Guadalcanal in 1945. The remains were returned to his family and buried at Arlington in 2018. Interesting discussion of Traumatic Brain Injury (battle fatigue, PTSD). Lots of research and help from many others went into this 18 year quest. Dr. Maharidge's father kept a picture of himself and a marine buddy in his milling machine room for decades, but never wanted to discuss much of anything abou ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
War is still hell, in case you were wondering.

Did you know roughly two thousand mentally ill American veterans were lobotomized during and after World War II by the US government? Did you know some volunteered?

These were men who returned home from the war, into the arms of their families, haunted by what they had experienced in the Pacific, Europe, or Africa, suffering from PTSD, some with brain damage from explosions or head wounds sustained during combat. They were prone to fits of rage or man
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An utterly fantastic Audible Original by journalism professor Dale Maharidge. A tale of a boy looking for his father's demon. Dale, a child of a WWII combat veteran Marine, searches for the man who haunted his father from May 1945 until his death in 2001. Starting with a faded photograph that was his father's constant companion, Dale searches first for who the man was, then his family, and ultimately to bring him home. We meet along the way several of his father's comrades-in-arms who were with ...more
Lindsay Luke
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author. Dale Maharidge, wrote a book called Bringing Mulligan Home a couple of years ago. This Audible Original is sort of a continuation of that book.
The author's father, Steve Maharidge, came back from WWII with problems that would today be called TBI and PTSD. In those days, it was "combat fatigue" and you were just supposed to get over it. Steve drank, was short tempered, and could be abusive. His sons struggled with the legacy of the way he treated them for most of their lives. Steve n
Alan Teder
Audio Sequel to Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War (2013)
Review of the Audible Audio audiobook (2019)

Author Dale Maharidge wrote an earlier book which sought to solve the mystery behind what happened to a friend of his father named Herman Mulligan when they had both fought in the U.S. Marines in the Battle of Okinawa in the Second World War where Mulligan had died. Maharidge's father Steve had returned from the war with what was likely Traumatic Brain Injury/Shell Shock and w
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 At times, this is insightful, very poignant - and getting the audio clips recorded from his initial research for the initial book is fantastic. And at other times, it leans heavily into a narrative I just struggled to understand or follow - that what made the household abusive as a child was that father was in a war. That despite never really discussing the war and father's motivation for having a picture up at home, father would now be at peace and all demons gone because we searched for ne ...more
Di Richardson
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the free audible originals I chose this month. Almost didn’t, because I knew it was going to be pretty heavy. And it was. The author, a pulitzer prize winner, grew up in an abusive household. He and his brother never really understood why there father had such anger issues. After his father died, he got curious about a photo of a soldier his dad always kept on display. He decided to find out the story behind that photo, which resulted in former members of his dad’s platoon sharin ...more
Devonne West
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was one of the free monthly Audible audio books. Listening to The Dead Drink First made me feel for the oft-forgotten soldiers of WWII. It's a journey of a soldier's son to find what he can about a man in a photograph that was ever present in the home growing up. There are no heroes in war, only victims seems to ring true as I heard about mental, physical, and emotional scars of the returning soldiers, their spouses, and their children.
I'm glad Walter Henry Mulligan was finally brought hom
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I'm a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. I've published ten books, including And Their Children After Them, which won the 1990 non-fiction Pulitzer Prize. The most recent is Bringing Mulligan Home/The Other Side of the Good War (PublicAffairs). Before that I released the paperback edition of Someplace Like America/ Tales from the New Great Depression(University of Ca ...more

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