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Achilles in Vietnam Paperback – 23 Oct 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Touchstone ed edition (23 Oct. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684813211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684813219
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Jon Spayde "The Utne Reader" ...eloquent, disturbing, and original...

About the Author

Jonathan Shay is a Boston-area psychiatrist whose patients are Vietnam combat veterans with severe, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic. He is also on the faculty of Tufts Medical School. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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We begin in the moral world of the soldier-what his culture understands to be right-and betrayal of that moral order by a commander. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
As a Vietnam combat veteran, I was imbued with the belief that my war was "special," a unique experience in the world's military history. In reading Dr. Shay's book, I had to re-think that thesis and am now struck with the obvious conclusion that all combat, be it with Alexander the Great or Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, inflicts psychological damage that can last a lifetime. Only geography changes.
Realizing that and reading the vast parallels between The Iliad and Vietnam PTSD symptomology, I was able to understand my own emotional scars and through that self-realization, truly begin to heal those scars. I referred my therapist to the book and she told me it offered her more insight into the cause and treatment of PTSD among Vietnam veterans than any of the seminars or textbooks she'd ever encountered. This is a must read for Vietnam vets and those who care about them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 1998
Format: Paperback
Most of the reviews I've read point out how scholarly this work is. It is, indeed, scholarly. But more importantly, it is accurate, well documented, and a MUST READ for Vietnam as well as other veterans. Been there, done that (30 months in-country). This book is a godsend. You need not be a rocket scientist to read Dr. Shay's current work. This book has explained more to me in the two days it took to read it than either experience or any other writing has explained to me in the past 27 years. Once I started reading I simply couldn't put the book down. BUY THE BOOK AND READ IT. You will be glad you did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
The book "Achilles In Vietnam" was recommended to me by a thereapist who supervises a weekly meeting of V.A. PTSD patients in my hometown. As one of his clients and a new member of the group, I have been searching for the cause of my affliction and for the means to be cured. He felt this book would be a good place for me to start. It has been. I think the book requires some knowledge of ancient literature, and a good experience-gained knowledge of the Vietnam War. I think this knowledge of literature could be gained on one's backside. The knowledge of Vietnam could be gained only through experiencing the place and those times. It was of value to me, though I have never seen myself as a warrior. I do not value the warrior virtues, nor does our society. Ancient Greece did so, of course. I do not value the Vietnam War, and did not think it viable policy when it was pursued by the US Government. Thusly, I did not value my own service, or the services performed by others in Vietnam. Clearly the people of the United States did not value that service either. The Veteran's Administration, Congress, Pentagon and White House were loathe to recognize the special needs of Vietnam Veterans and their families. There was a lot of foot dragging and denial before Agent Orange and PTSD were recognized as problems peculiar to us. The traditional defenders of veterans rights, the old line veterans organizations, were also reluctant to see us even walk in the door. The author of "Achilles In Vietnam" pointed all of this out, and tried to draw parallels between our experience of battle and that of the ancient warrior, Achilles, before the walls of Troy. Though Achilles was killed, we survived.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Along with Bao Ninh's book "The Sorrow of War," this is one of the great books not just of therapy but literature per se, as he juxtaposes an Ancient poem with modern warfare to detail the commonalities and differences.. Even more so because of its practical impact around comprehending how the effects of combat do not magic away when the war finishes. The author focuses on the psychological impact upon soldiers during and after the war to look at how they can come to terms with what happened to them. He also looks at the impact upon civilians.

By using the Illiad as a counterpoint he details how war has not changed for over 3000 years in its psychological effect. The case histories are riveting and moving illuminating to the general public and those who work with veterans the depth required to change someone's adaptation to war conditions. This is therapy in the deep end as he walks around the minds of men still locked within the throes of war. Reflecting on how it resonates long after the last bullet has been fired, this book is a must not just for those who work with Vets but anyone who has endured complex as well as post traumatic stress. The difference is pure semantics, although the soldiers here are on the protagonist end of the spectrum as they recognise the effect they latterly become victims.

So we have both victims and perpetrators extolling their narratives and they are hard, but this is what the therapist who works in this field has to be able to bear. I found the insights could also be used to work with refugees. It is not a P*****g contest as Shay highlights, the human predicament stretches around the globe.

Cannot be recommended highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
After 34 years Dr. Shay's words carve deeply into my psyche explaining the insane behaviour and invincibility teenagers feel during combat. And, most importantly the same feelings and adreanline rush appear when confronted within perceived helpless situations while dealing with government bureaucracy. Dr. Shay has the explanation now for the social engineers to incorporate this information into practice educating the Veterans of all wars. I am suggesting the audience view "Saving Private Rayan.," a movie which motivated the Veterans Administration to install a toll free 800 number for those stressors again activated after 50 plus years.
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