In the tradition of Michael Herr's Dispatches and works by such masters of the memoir as Mary Karr and Tobias Wolff, a powerful account of war and homecoming that grabs readers by the throat even as it touches their hearts.
Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them as the commander of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Iraq. Days and nights he and his team - his brothers - would venture forth in heavily armed convoys from their Forward Operating Base to engage in the nerve-racking yet strangely exhilarating work of either disarming the deadly improvised explosive devices that had been discovered, or picking up the pieces when the alert came too late. They relied on an army of remote-controlled cameras and robots, but if that technology failed, a technician would have to don the eighty-pound Kevlar suit, take the Long Walk up to the bomb, and disarm it by hand. This lethal game of cat and mouse was, and continues to be, the real war within America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But The Long Walk is not just about battle itself. It is also an unflinching portrayal of the toll war exacts on the men and women who are fighting it. When Castner returned home to his wife and family, he began a struggle with a no less insidious foe, an unshakable feeling of fear and confusion and survivor's guilt that he terms The Crazy. His thrilling, heartbreaking, stunningly honest book immerses the reader in two harrowing and simultaneous realities: the terror and excitement and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the enemy within - the haunting memories that will not fade, the survival instincts that will not switch off. After enduring what he has endured, can there ever again be such a thing as "normal"? The Long Walk will hook you from the very first sentence, and it will stay with you long after its final gripping page has been turned.
©2012 Brian Castner (P)2012 Random House Audio
"The Long Walk is a raw, wrenching, blood-soaked chronicle of the human cost of war. Brian Castner, the leader of a military bomb disposal team, recounts his deployment to Iraq with unflinching candor, and in the process exposes crucial truths not only about this particular conflict, but also about war throughout history. Castner's memoir brings to mind Erich Maria Remarque's masterpiece, All Quiet on the Western Front." (Jon Krakauer, author of Where Men Win Glory)
"Castner has written a powerful book about the long cost of combat and the brotherhood of men at arms. Remarkably, he has made the world of the EOD entertaining, occasionally hilarious, and always harrowing. His honesty is refreshing and the book is written with such candor and openness that one can't help but root for him. And did I mention that it is entertaining? There were scenes at work with the bomb disposal unit where I found myself holding my breath." (Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead)
"Do you want to know a little something about our war in Iraq? Begin with The Long Walk, Brian Castner's elegant, superbly written story about the bomb-disposal guys. As you read think of Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. Castner gives us that steady rhythm of one foot in front of the other. Think of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Here is the reality of the exhausted mind, and of profound thought wandering all Creation: this is what I saw, this is what I did, this is what I have become. It's the story of the long walk out, as they say, from the Humvee to the bomb in the street, and the long look back." (Larry Heinemann, author of the National Book Award-winning Paco's Story, and Close Quarters)
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"Heart wrenching and a compelling read"
Yes -- read by the author and with feeling so better than reading the book
The emotion of the narrator/author made this true story much more real than just reading the book.
He was very articulate and his emotion could be felt as he read his book.
A story we all need to hear !!
The author lives in my general community and I know someone who is familiar with his family. I can only imagine what his entire family and friends have been through. Brian is one of thousands of soldiers who have and are going through similar experiences and it breaks my heart that we, as a society, are so unaware.
I never thought about what these soldiers have to deal with. Some of the book was so graphic I had to walk away from it for a few days. But I had to come back. Wars have probably always screwed up the minds of the people who fought them but after reading this I really don't know how some of them continue with their lives. I felt for him every moment. Be prepared though. It is disturbing.
"A Great Tale of Triumph and Terror"
I absolutely LOVED how candid this brave soldier is! He tells it like it is - like it or not! The story is complete - it's about his battles after his return from Iraq just as much as it is about his battles in the war itself. It's HUMAN!
The Sandbox, Birdie - stories where the emotional impact of war and violence are a very large part of the story.
His voice and inflection really contributed to the feeling that Brian was telling his own story, from his own perspective. It doesn't mean that his story is every soldier's story by any means - the story is entirely HIS.
to Iraq and Back, the story of returning home again and again.
"What Price Justice and Peace?"
It is so meaningful to listen to Brian directly rather than just read words on a page. The hockey goalie moment with his son cuts to the core and deepens my understanding of Brian's struggle. I gave the story portion 3 stars because the flash forward and back style was perhaps over-used and created confusion. Of course I'm left wanting more. The story really doesn't end; we wonder if Mrs. Castner's grandma is right after all and that the soldier husband really doesn't return. And we wonder how much is sacrificed by our soldiers in combat.
I thank you for your service Brian, but I know what a woefully small token my appreciation is in comparison to what you and your comrades endure. I will add my prayers for you on many levels. I can't think of a more stunning member of the Body of Christ than the EOD soldier willing to absorb the explosive wickedness of other men in order to enhance the safety of civilians and fellow soldiers.
The yearning for an original and eternal goodness remains, despite the monumental efforts of dark forces to reduce this world and this life to nihilistic senselessness. Brian's life carries such an enormous portion from each side of that struggle. I wonder if Brian's shadow (his "crazy") is so large and menacing because the depth of his sacrifice has been so large. Naming it is a good step forward. When my shadow pops in, I like to thank it for reminding me that I remain a work in progress. My experience has been that the more I recognize it in a non-judgmental, almost affectionate way, the less demanding it becomes.
This book is a gripping experience, and it humbles the listener with the profound price paid by soldiers in their attempts to make peace in troubled parts of the world.
"Captivating and Gritty I recommend it to everyone!"
My husband handed me the hard cover book and just said "Read it." I did. I smiled, I cried and I laughed out loud. I couldn't put it down. When I looked for it on Audible, I told my husband it was available. He said, "If Brian is the narrator, order it!" I did. I have listened to it twice. It is haunting and moving and truly one of my favorite books. It is written like EOD Tech's live, raw and gritty. There is plenty of fowl language, but it is written in a way that seems to fit not just put in there for shock value.
The story is not written from beginning to end, it flashes back and forth to carefully reveal the changes Brian has gone through. (from training, to deployments, to time at home with the family, to civilian work and life) In print, the time breaks are easier to follow because there is a very visual separation between events. I think if Brian had used certain background noise or music to denote each event, it would be easier for the listener to put the timeline together. Nonetheless, it is not difficult to follow once you understand this.
More than worth the credit!
Really makes you understand what it was like to be working with explosive devices in Iraq, and the consequences. One of the best of this genre.
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