Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review - Homeward Bound: American Veterans Return from War

Homeward Bound: American Veterans Return from War by Richard H. Taylor with Sandra Wright Taylor, Naval Institute Press, 2009

In this book Richard Taylor traces the history of American veterans coming home from war with the same anticipations, hopes and fears that were first chronicled by Homer in Ulysses. A military historian and journalist Taylor starts with the Revolutionary War and ends with the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He uses personal memoirs, diaries and interviews to show how universal (and often misguided) expectations are when a soldier returns from combat and how war changes those who participate in it.  Unlike other histories of veterans that focus on a group or more usually, a single war, Taylor compares and contrasts all returns. Each chapter begins with a battlefield scene followed by an explanation of the conflict and how veterans were treated when they returned home. Along the way we get a good picture of how the federal government evolved its response to veterans’ issues and needs and how difficult it has been to get the attention of society once war is over.  Taylor touches on, among other issues, education, employment, mental health, marriage, health, benefits, retirement and burial.  This book is suitable for anyone interested in an historic perspective from providers to military service members.

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