A Story of War and the Life That Follows
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.
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. He and his team – his brothers – disarmed bombs. Sometimes they used robots and remote controls. Sometimes they set off controlled explosions. Sometimes one of the team would have to put on the eighty-pound Kevlar suit, take the Long Walk, and disarm the device by hand. Often they were simply too late; arriving just in time to pick up the pieces.
In a hailstorm of bullets, bomb fragments, body parts and the endless wailing of innocent civilians, the days rolled into nights, yesterday turned into tomorrow, and today never even happened. But after the tour, the celebrations and the long plane ride home, the real war was just beginning. The war against the fear, the confusion, the guilt and the memory loss. The war against the Crazy.
This exhilarating, heartbreaking, searingly honest memoir exposes two harrowing and simultaneous realities: the terror, excitement and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the enemy within.
“Brian Castner's The Long Walk is an extraordinary memoir. A fearless and uncompromising look at the burden borne by soldiers in our modern age, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the ways that human beings respond to extreme circumstances. I could not recommend it more highly.”
Kevin Powers, author of 'The Yellow Birds'
“A shocking description of the unseen price of war. It should be required reading.”
John Ingham, Daily Express
“A raw, wrenching, blood-soaked chronicle of the human cost of war. 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'
“A powerful book about the long cost of combat and the brotherhood of men at arms. Entertaining, occasionally hilarious, and always harrowing. I found myself holding my breath.”
Anthony Swofford, author of 'Jarhead'
“It may be the most important book written about modern war.”
Stephen Phillips, author of 'Proximity' and 'The Recipient’s Son'
“Elegant [and] superbly written. 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.”
Larry Heinemann, author of 'Paco’s Story' and 'Close Quarters'
“Damn, this is a very human book. You need to read The Long Walk.”
Thomas E. Ricks, author of 'Fiasco' and 'The Gamble'
“Engrossing... the enduring treachery of memory remains the real, unfinished story of “The Long Walk.” It takes as much courage for Castner to confront that memory as it does to face an active fuse.”
Elizabeth D. Samet, New York Times
“Vivid... Castner's book intersperses stateside scenes of intense military training, off-hours hijinks and marital strife with vivid, often grisly accounts from Iraq's war-ravaged landscape, where his EOD teams disarmed improvised explosive devices, hunted for the bomb makers or cleaned up after their horrific handiwork while dodging gunfire and angry locals. [He writes] bluntly in describing how he has been changed by the war.”
Wall Street Journal
“Not the typical testosterone-driven account that plagues the war-memoir genre. His straightforward, unself-conscious writing paints an absorbing picture of war in the twenty-first century.”
The New Yorker
“At times, The Long Walk...is almost unbearable to read. Not because the writing is bad — it’s often excellent. It’s unbearable because of Castner’s brutally vivid descriptions of the war and the way it tore apart his mind and his life.... An important book to read for anyone who wants to get some sense of the long-term human toll of the Iraq war. How many soldiers have been damaged as Castner has? How many lives and families have been destroyed — or will be — by the effects of TBI? The Long Walk brings home in a visceral way the hidden, personal burden of war that many veterans continue to carry.”
The Boston Globe
“A brutally honest, sharply observed account of life at war. Both harrowing and poignant - an intensely personal story.”
The Daily Beast
“The Long Walk is a powerful, intimate, disturbing look at the ways that war can infect the life of a soldier. By the end of the story...we’ve watched him fight a deftly drawn series of battles, from the physical, to the emotional, to the existential. Each one of these is more intense and wrenching than the last. The Long Walk is not for the faint of heart. Castner tells us what he is thinking and feeling at all times and has the magnificent ability to fill his scenes with the suspense of the moment. It is the ultimate show-not-tell.”
Jennifer Miller, Christian Science Monitor
“Raw and entirely convincing. There are some extraordinarily tense set-pieces but, just as powerfully, the tales from Iraq are interspersed with what happened to Castner when he got home.”