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on 24 July 2013
Jake, that is by far the best book on the subject of war that I think I have ever read and I have read literally hundreds. A searing account, painful to read, powerful and above all brutally honest. I think it is your total and unflinching honesty which really makes the book stand out and I admire your courage in writing it. The Junior Officers Reading Club comes close,but I think yours is better. I also served on Herrick 6, with the Territorial Army, in an Infantry role. My tour was rough in parts, but not on the same scale as yours. Your observations and descriptions of the impossibility of ever really fitting properly back into civilian life again were incredibly well written and helped me on a personal level. TA (and all reserve forces) face a unique challenge regarding re-integration into society, and I don't mean a harder or easier challenge than the regs, just a different one, which I think you capture perfectly. I do not have PTSD, and I didn't loose any limbs, both of which I will be eternally grateful for. But, like everyone I served with, I am not the same as I was before Afghan and the blackness, as you so astutely describe it, is always there, and always has to be consciously repressed. On a personal level your book helped me hugely, at a time when perhaps the blackness was becoming difficult to manage. It made me feel less isolated, and I am certain that your book will help many veterans. Anger, rage, numbness,sitting at a desk and struggling to integrate the soldier and the civilian which form every TA or reservist are things which I, and I am certain many others can relate to. Finally, with regard to your quest to arm Infantry drivers with pistols - top notch. That has been a personal bugbear of mine since Afghan,having spent part of my tour as an Infantry driver, with my rifle wedged uselessly over the WMIK gearstick/dashboard,I am in absolute agreement that not issuing pistols routinely is criminal. The sheer helplessness of being an effectively unarmed driver in a heavy contact, in amongst compounds,is pretty awful.I wish you all the best in your battle with PTSD. You won your other fights and you can win this one too. For anyone considering buying this book - do it. It is an excellent piece of literature and will give you an insight into certain aspects of war which you simply won't get anywhere else. Jake was clearly a highly competent soldier, he is also a highly competent author.
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on 16 March 2013
Jake Wood's depiction of the frustrations and harshness of life in theatre for ground troops in Afghanistan is devastatingly accurate. When he writes 'This is what it feels like to be alive!' it is so true. As ex-marine who also served in Helmand, those patrolling and patrol base scenes he describes so vividly really popped back out at me. It may have taken crippling heartache and an unknowable amount of psychological distress to drive him to tell this important story, but the ray of hope is that his shocking combat experience may have inadvertently led him to his new calling as a genuinely talented new writer. I can only hope that he found the experience of completing the book was in some way redemptive. I certainly got the sense that he is now moving on with his life strongly and positively now that the recognition he deserves has been afforded by our government and the military. As a man, if you really want to know what experience of war is like, then read this because it is the best book about a normal man surviving war that I've ever read. `Among You'. Yes, exactly. Peace be upon you Jake - you nailed it.
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on 23 April 2017
My husband is an ex soldier, and he found it difficult to read.
I personally could not finish it, as I could not understand all the terms used.
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on 26 September 2017
Jakes account of war was very moving and really highlights how poorly our soldiers are treated after we have finished with them.
Great book
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on 8 October 2015
Brilliant book very gripping you won't want to put it down.
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on 9 June 2017
Gloomy book but gives a good idea, I knew him anyway.
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on 10 May 2013
Where to begin? One of the finest books I have ever read of any kind. Nothing I write here can begin to convey the emotional rollercoaster Jake takes you on so I can only urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read this. Whilst you're at it ask your friends to read it too as if doing so will in any way help this man and raise awareness of the countless others like him past and present then it will have been worthwhile.
I shan't delve into the contents as to do so would be to taint what Jake expresses far more eloquently than i could ever hope to. Suffice to say that he has a tremendous talent for writing and I for one applaud his honesty and willingness to delve terrifyingly deep in order to bare his soul to the world. He very clearly never asks for, nor expects, sympathy for where his self-imposed journey has led him though there are many times during this book that you want to reach into the pages to help him. However to be given such an insight into the true face of PTSD is to know just how powerless you might be in trying to do so. Perhaps just to remember what the men and women in our armed forces have done and respect their endeavours is the best the rest of us can do, all the while being incredibly thankful that there are those out there willing to do what so many of us are not. Also, crucially, show them your support after they return - no matter what your political beliefs or your opinion on whether or not they should be there in the first place. Save those questions for your government.
Jake I wish you well on your the rest of your journey.
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on 5 February 2013
Jake has caught the situation of his plight while serving as a Territorial soldier with honest and upfront views without pulling punches from his point of view on three separate tours venturing into conflict zones.
He expresses his feelings with true passion that will make anyone reading the account fully aware of Jakes pain and mental suffering and for others in similar situations, affiliation to PTSD will be apparent.
I recommend this account to anyone who is contemplating active service either as a regular soldier or that of a member of the TA.
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on 23 November 2013
I am a former Army wife and my ex husband suffered from PTSD. I never fully understood the demons or pain that lingered deep in his mind. The anger, frustration and often tears that became a regular part of our lives. The mere sound of a car back firing would have him diving to the floor. The sleepless nights, horrific nightmares. But worse still I could not know what lay deep inside. What was causing my husband to be that changed man, and what would eventually destroy our marriage. The hell that was Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq all rolled into one, set the seal on a mind that took years to begin to find semblance of normality. I have had many friends go and are in Afghanistan now. Ignorance can be bliss, but the odd programmes like the series by Ross Kemp opened a world I never knew. I know what it's like to lose a friend there, and it was at the same time as Jake was there. I have had many many nights going through what his last moments were like and the thoughts are soul destroying, haunting. I imagine his broken body laying in the ditch and the feeling of helplessness his fellow soldiers must have felt. I go through the timeline of death and burial. Of me when i sit by his grave and wander if it is real.,life takes on a new meaning. I can't imagine what our soldiers go through, and I watch when we see them returning home, the signs that hide behind their eyes. I am a nurse and I can remember many patients whose deaths linger my mind. The sights and smells you never can quite forget. They never truely go away but the mind is an incredible tool. Just like our physical wounds heal, yes they may leave a scar and sometimes you still experience pain, but it lessons over time and makes way for brighter things. I know not every story ends positively and the suicide and crime rate has gone up amongst soldiers returning home. More needs to be done. Thank you though Jake, you made me gasp and you made me cry, but you gave hope. I understand far now and as a friend I know that if my friends ever need me, I can at least understand a little better.Take care and yes you will find the one who will hold your heart and treasure it..
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on 26 April 2013
This book is astounding. I don't think I've ever read a book which has brought the reader so completely into the author's memory and mind. This wasn't just because of the subject, which is utterly and at times painfully compelling, but equally because it is so well written. It flows, it is both concise and vividly descriptive, and he also has a wonderful turn of phrase - that sort of Oscar Wilde or Churchill habit of saying things with clarity, wit and clever linguistics that leads to them being serially quoted by others.
The book ends on a more hopeful note - I hope that's continued for the author and that things are getting easier. I also hope that others who've found themselves in the same situation will find the book not only compelling but also a massive relief.
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