Review of Digger Dogface Brownjob Grunt
By Francisco Auet, M.D., Psychiatrist, Panama City, Panama
Digger Dogface Brownjob Grunt is an exceptionally well written book about the psychology of surviving. Disturbing on many levels, tender yet chaotic, Digger’s… backdrop is the war in Vietnam, and yet Digger… is not as much a war story as it is a compelling tale of the survival of man’s spirit in the chaos of the lowest levels of war.
A truly extraordinary story told by a narrator with a powerful voice, Digger… steadily builds on a matrix of conflicting emotions and psychological conflicts—the making of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A chronicle of the systematic decay of the human spirit, of being too long in the throes of combat, Digger… should be read and studied by all mental health professionals currently helping patients with PTSD and those who may deal with PTSD in the future. A primer sought after by psychiatrists and resident psychiatrists, Digger… should be mandatory reading for undergraduate and post-graduate medical students.
Gary Prisk has written a layered narrative that shows rather than tells a story about an Army Infantry Lieutenant, Lieutenant Edward Hardin, who uses his caring spirit, as if an arm he wraps around his men, to push his men forward and protect them while he relies on that same caring spirit to simply survive.
From the carnage his unit suffers before he enters the hospital with a fever-of-unknown-origin (FUO) to the end of his brutal existence, page by page the reader becomes immersed in the chaos of war. In and out of the vines, Lieutenant Hardin grows closer to his men. Scene by scene the reader follows the morphing of Hardin’s resolve as he questions and replaces traditional measures of war’s success and boils his own measure down to one consuming purpose—the survival of his men. Even when a recurring fever-of-unknown-origin gives him a medical pass away from the war, he cannot abandon his men. Their survival had become his reason for being.
With the facility few writers possess, Gary Prisk introduces the reader to characters so deeply mired in the mud of yet another war, the reader begins by resisting the true nature of these men. Initially, Digger Dogface Brownjob Grunt is not easy to read. The story seems chaotic until the reader realizes Lieutenant Hardin’s war was chaotic.
Somehow the author has created a story with the sensibility of a poem, or testament—a picture of the vivid, tumultuous reality of war for those who were not there.
At times the reader will laugh and then a few short sentences later cry. Careening from scene to scene, at times the reader will wish the story line was less frenetic, less realistic, or more comfortable. But that’s part of the beauty and the genius of this book.
Challenging the reader to understand how an infantryman adjusts his measure of success, the author shows the reader why the infantryman gives his last full measure trying to find substitutes for his reason for being.
Those who have the pleasure of reading Digger Dogface Brownjob Grunt will gain life-saving insights into mental survival in times of chaos or challenge.
Reading this book will be a catharsis for the reader’s soul.