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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Commonality of the Combat Soldier, 30 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book for shrinks and an GREAT book for veterans, 28 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Achilles In Vietnam is an interesting look at men who fight, 14 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (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. Before he was killed, he was denied a legitimate prize of war, a woman, while we were denied both public salute and public paid services and payment for our Vietnam generated conditions. Achilles sulked, we withdrew, drank, did dope, went to jail, walked the streets and began to die young. These things provoke thought. Now, a generation later, men our age are running the Congress and running for President. The Congress recently proposed an across the board cut for all federal agencies. The Veterans' Admininstration will be cut, along with all the others. Indeed, we are lower because of recent record payments to farmers. One of our contemporaries, Mr. Clinton, has already been elected twice. His opposition to the war needs no discussion here. Only two of those trying to succeed him in office are veterans, McCain and Gore. Polls indicate they have little chance. The rest of the field running for President hid out somewhere in the US, and made sure they did anything but go to Vietnam. Once again, we who went to Vietnam, and fought there, are reminded of our low status in this society. If "past is prologue", the book and our own experiences indicate our future place in the hearts of our fellow citizens. I suggest every Vietnam Veteran struggling with his past read "Achilles In Vietnam". It is an intersting look at us and our problems by a man who treats us and those problems. I was reluctant to recommend the book to family or friends. When I did so, their eyes glazed over, and they mumbled something about "working it in". Ring a bell, Achilles?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Therapeutic Books put to paper, 25 Jan 2014
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A lucid explanation for insane behaviour., 22 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, clear and compassionate study of Vietnam Vets., 30 Oct 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
An important book that fills in the missing piece of what happened to our men in Vietnam. Disowned, dishonored and disgraced by the country and people who sent them there, this book painfully explains what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is and what it has done to a generation of our finest men.Contrasting the Vietnam war to the war of the ancient Greeks in the Iliad, Dr. Shay shows how our men were slowly stripped of their values and character by the dis-engaged and distant way our country waged war in Vietnam..
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5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK IS DEEP, 6 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
What does it take to first perceive the connections between the mythic foundations of the human spirit and modern warfare? It took a Boston psychiatrist with a passion for ancient literature and a practice filled with Vietnam veterans ... Dr. Jonathan Shay. He reveals the deep connections between the berserkers of the Trojan wars and the grunts of Nam, making good sense on a variety of levels (medical, psychiatric, archetypal, mythic, you name it). His scholarship is superb, and his literary knowledge profound. See especially his extended quote from Shakespeare, showing the bard's own comprehensive knowledge of the symptoms of PTSD. This is a great book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars How much does the US owe Vietnam veterans?, 15 Mar 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
How much does a war cost to the individual? How long does invisible scars of war atrocities last? Jonathan Shay takes you by hand and guides you through the depths of a mythological hell, where men cannot seat with their backs to the door, where nights are endeless nightmares and love is a distante, almost forbidden emotion... It's impossible to read this book and keep the same attitude, whatever it was, about war. But more than anything, the book brings redemption, ways to help, to not only those men, but allow this whole country to attone from the murderous sin of sending these men to die for nothing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best books I've ever read., 11 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
As a psychiatrist unfamiliar with working with Viet Nam vets, I found this to be incredibly useful. As a person long interested in the classics, I was introduced to a wholly fresh appreciation for The Iliad. My husband read the book over my shoulder. While he generally avoids the books from my library, he borrowed and devoured this one! Kudos, Dr. Shay.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready for the Afghanistan Vets?, 9 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Achilles in Vietnam (Paperback)
Achilles in Vietnam is a fascinating study of the similarities and contrasts between the impact of the Trojan War and the American war in Vietnam upon the combatants. The psychiatrist Jonathan Shea tracks and seeks to explain and analyse the progessive and catastrophic degradation of American conscript troops and the extreme post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)that afflicted very many who then experienced lifelong difficulty in re-integrating into American society. We in Britain are now confronted by the return from Afghanistan of many service men and women many of whom will be traumatised by a brutal war that shares a number of features with the Vietnam War. One of the major causes of persistent trauma that Shea investigates is the impact of the managerialisation of warfare upon soldiers who are treated as isolated atoms switched in and out of units and treated as skill bundles rather than living human beings. We need to be in a position to understand and help them, but this is very difficult because their experience lies beyond the boundaries of the realities most ordinary citizens encounter. Strangely enough, however, this book also illuminates the societal degradation now afflicting the United Kingdom is which human resources management (HRM) is stripping out agency and producing the fully surrendered employee, the 'oblate' who has to sacrifice all integrity and identity in order to be what their line manager requires them to be - and teachers (including those in universities) have to prepare students for their lives of informed 'isothymic' (Francis Fukuyama) docility, or risk them being burdened with crtical agency and thus rendered unemployable.
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Achilles in Vietnam
Achilles in Vietnam by Jonathan M.D. Shay (Paperback - 23 Oct 1995)
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