Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

‘The Evil Hours,’ a wonderful new book on PTSD (Vol. 1): Some of his best lines

David J. Morris’ new book, The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is the best thing I’ve ever read about PTSD.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.37.06 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.37.06 AM

David J. Morris’ new book, The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is the best thing I’ve ever read about PTSD. It is to me the non-fiction equivalent of Phil Klay’s Redeployment. Like Klay, Morris is a former Marine officer who became a writer.

The book is just full of good lines, observations, and insights. In fact, it has provoked me to write an essay. More about that later. Also, I want to run an excerpt from it, about the controversial subject of post-traumatic growth (he was skeptical, but thinks some exceptionally resilient and wise people do experience it). Here are some of the things that rang true to me and made me stop and think as I read:

--“The war happened in collections of seconds, but the memories of it echoed forever.”

David J. Morris’ new book, The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is the best thing I’ve ever read about PTSD. It is to me the non-fiction equivalent of Phil Klay’s Redeployment. Like Klay, Morris is a former Marine officer who became a writer.

The book is just full of good lines, observations, and insights. In fact, it has provoked me to write an essay. More about that later. Also, I want to run an excerpt from it, about the controversial subject of post-traumatic growth (he was skeptical, but thinks some exceptionally resilient and wise people do experience it). Here are some of the things that rang true to me and made me stop and think as I read:

“The war happened in collections of seconds, but the memories of it echoed forever.”

–“Nothing was indisputable in Iraq except death and the heat.”

–“The close calls. They were like boils in the ocean that held, churning the water for a moment, hinting at something below.”

–“It was a lesson the war taught me: The body knows things long before the mind catches up.”

–“I had been down so many roads in the city that after a while it became hard to tell if you were awake or asleep. The roads just went on and on, leaving your mind somewhere in the dust trailing behind the Humvee.”

Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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