A valuable work for anyone interested in gaining insight into the inner lives of troubled veterans.

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Ghost in the Ranks

FORGOTTEN VOICES & MILITARY MENTAL HEALTH

A doctor who treats Canadian armed forces veterans with PTSD explores the causes and consequences of this devastating condition.

Ever since Dr. John Whelan (Going Crazy in the Green Machine, 2014) started working with veterans, he has felt that he had a duty “to ensure that the voices of those men and women wounded by their service are heard and not forgotten.” He does not fail in that mission in his new book—part medical report on the emotions that trigger PTSD, part journalistic investigation into the lives of soldiers who have returned home from war zones—which creates a bridge between suffering veterans and the people who want to understand and help them recover. In this volume, readers hear episodic tales from veterans with diverse experiences: from those who felt “intensely angry about their service” and others who struggled to integrate themselves “into a world with vague structure and unclear directions.” Whelan, a Royal Canadian Navy veteran, treats his subjects with the utmost respect and care, taking the time to explain to readers inexperienced in this field that “it is this stoicism and adherence to an outdated version of prideful masculinity that may be contributing to the problems of emotional exhaustion and mental health declines including the phenomenon of chronic PTSD.” Whelan sees the humanity of the veterans he tries to help, and his striking analysis of life in the armed forces—for instance, his explanation of how soldiers often feel more connected to their military family than their biological clan and therefore feel abandoned after leaving the service—shows readers that these warriors have complex emotions and that the best thing the public can do to honor them is to listen to their personal accounts. In this important and necessary book, Whelan explains that “at a fundamental level,” veterans are bound to the military and “maintain aspects of this identity” for the remainder of their lives. He concludes that “the real threat to the health of the institution is cynicism…cynicism tells members…that they are essentially on their own.”

A valuable work for anyone interested in gaining insight into the inner lives of troubled veterans.

Pub Date: April 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8529-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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