Brian Castner, The Long Walk
An Iraq veteran deals with his trauma in a revealing memoir
The last few years have produced a plethora of memoirs, articles, movies and — more significantly — investigations over the post traumatic stress disorder suffered by returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Though treading on nearly identical ground as the film The Hurt Locker, The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, author-narrator Brian Castner’s own story of defusing bombs on the front lines still shocks, saddens and disturbs with both its clear voice and its brutal honesty.
“The first thing you should know about me is that I’m crazy,” begins Castner – though it quickly becomes clear that he’s anything but. A serious, dedicated Air Force officer with a background in engineering, the three-tour Iraq veteran is not the kind of adrenaline junkie depicted in The Hurt Locker, but someone whose experiences have produced rushing rivers of uninvited dread and confusion. One gets the sense that Castner would rather be feeling just about anything other than the need to patrol his own house with a rifle. Castner ruefully brings the listener along as he tries (or rather, endures) various treatments for his “broken brain,” all in a progressively desperate attempt to stifle the remaining panic. Heartbreaking and accessible, The Long Walk is the selfless result of those efforts.