Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review - Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine

Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine by Tyler Boudreau, Feral House Publishing, 2008

 Packing Inferno is the first person account of a twelve year Marine officer who commands a platoon in Iraq, only to find himself fighting another war within as PTSD gradually overwhelms him. Tyler Boudreau is a gifted writer whose work about combat, PTSD and the moral issues surrounding war has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Industry Standard. Huffington Post, Seattle Times and New Hampshire Daily. Boudreau records his combat experiences in 2004 first in and around Fallujah and Lutifiyah and then at various Forward Operating Bases around Baghdad. His struggle to codify and give meaning to the realities of war, and his disintegration of self when he’s unable to makes for fascinating reading. When asked to deploy a second time to Iraq Boudreau refuses and is punished by being given the duty of notifying family members that their Marine has been injured or killed. Once he has left the Corps Boudreau must confront his own hidden injuries and try to save himself. Boudreau draws on philosophy, literature, military history and the most intimate details of his own emotional landscape to chronicle his journey through Dante’s rings of hell. This is ultimately a story of a man disassembled by war left with no guidance as to how to rebuild himself. Packing Inferno is a significantly useful book for mental health providers at only 221 pages. Boudeau’s “voice” is fairly sophisticated which may make his writing less accessible to young readers. 

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