A mature, thoughtful perspective on American warfare in the 21st century and a detailed explanation of the advantages and drawbacks of Transcendental Meditation.
The bulk of this nonfiction work is constructed from a series of emails that Rees, a physician and now-retired Army colonel, sent home during his numerous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade. Filled with personal observations and details of his day-to-day life as a senior medical officer, they present a picture of military life that’s more prosaic than those seen in popular media but no less purposeful or dangerous. In the latter half of the book, Rees offers a handful of chapters on Transcendental Meditation, which he’s practiced since the 1970s, including a paper he submitted to the War College on the potential benefits of TM in war zones and for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. If Rees’ work has a flaw, it’s in how these vastly different sections intertwine and attempt to merge; they seem to be two different books under one title, although the author works hard to highlight the connections between the two and give them a unified purpose. Some readers may not mind the bifurcation, though, as Rees is an immensely engaging writer whose wit and thoughtfulness shine through on every page. Whether he’s comparing a military briefing to a scene from the 1960 film The Time Machine or discussing the results of a literature review on TM, he writes with care and logic, presenting his arguments and counterarguments with an evenhandedness and rounded perspective that’s refreshing, particularly for readers used to polarized political discourse. Indeed, every page shines with compassion and humor. If readers can get past the disconnect of the book’s two halves, they’ll find a great deal of engaging reading material here.
A witty, compassionate read from a thoughtful author.