Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book Review - Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq

Shade It Black: Death and After in Iraq by Jessica Goodell, Casemate Publishing, 2011

Shade It Black is a memoir is by a young enlisted Marine who recalls her deployment and experiences while serving in a Mortuary Affairs unit in Iraq.  The unit is assigned to retrieve and process the remains of both Americans and Iraqis who are killed in war.  Sometimes the platoon is sent on a convoy to bring remains back to base, and sometimes units bring their own fallen. Goodell’s writing is powerful and her voice entirely credible as she tells of the effects of all the horror and carnage on the members. Her shattering portrait of the conditions and day to day work processing American service members’ remains, often pulverized from IED explosives and being ostracized by the rest of the camp is riveting. Those in her unit cannot eat or sleep, and some ultimately lose their minds. Goodell’s descriptions of what it is like to be one of only two females in the unit are particularly poignant while also disturbing.  She paints a clear picture of how difficult it is for a woman to join, train and serve as a US Marine, particularly in theater. When her account becomes especially relevant is when the unit returns home and to a man and woman find that their experiences in Mortuary Affairs continue to haunt them.  Goodell describes a heart-rending lack of support from the Armed Services in dealing with the psychological issues that surface once everyone is home.  Goodell enters into a long term abusive relationship self-isolates, uses drugs and alcohol and, upon occasion, lives in her car.  This book is not for the faint-hearted but it is compellingly written, and should be read by every mental health provider who wishes to understand the military experience during war or to become better acquainted with what it is like to be a female in the fiercely male culture of the Corp.

No comments:

Post a Comment