Skip to Main Content

Listen To An Excerpt

0:00 /

About The Book

In this ambitious follow-up to Achilles in Vietnam, Dr. Jonathan Shay uses the Odyssey, the story of a soldier's homecoming, to illuminate the pitfalls that trap many veterans on the road back to civilian life.

Seamlessly combining important psychological work and brilliant literary interpretation with an impassioned plea to renovate American military institutions, Shay deepens our understanding of both the combat veteran's experience and one of the world's greatest classics.

In Achilles in Vietnam, Dr. Jonathan Shay used the story of the Iliad as a prism through which to examine how ancient and modern wars have battered the psychology of the men who fight. Now he turns his attention to the Odyssey, the story of a soldier's homecoming, to illuminate the real problems faced by combat veterans reentering civilian society.

The Odyssey, Shay argues, offers explicit portrayals of behavior common among returning soldiers in our own culture: danger-seeking, womanizing, explosive violence, drug abuse, visitation by the dead, obsession, vagrancy and homelessness. Supporting his reading with examples from his fifteen-year practice treating Vietnam veterans, Shay shows how Odysseus's mistrustfulness, his lies, and his constant need to conceal his thoughts and emotions foreshadow the experiences of many of today's veterans. He also explains how veterans recover and advocates changes to American military practice that will protect future servicemen and servicewomen while increasing their fighting power. Throughout, Homer strengthens our understanding of what a combat veteran must overcome to return to and flourish in civilian life, just as the heartbreaking stories of the veterans Shay treats give us a new understanding of one of the world's greatest classics.

About The Author

Jonathan Shay, MD., PhD., a MacArthur Fellow, is a clinical psychiatrist whose treatment of combat trauma suffered by Vietnam veterans has deepened understanding of the effects of warfare on the individual. He worked as Veterans Affairs psychiatrist at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts for twenty years. His work on moral injury is found in his books, Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. In 2018, Volunteers of America established The Shay Moral Injury Center, named in his honor and dedicated to furthering knowledge about moral injury in the many populations who experience it. He lives in the Boston area.

About The Readers

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (March 29, 2022)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Runtime: 11 hours and 23 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797115597

Browse Related Books

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Jonathan Shay

More books from this reader: David Strathairn