Academic journal article Military Review

EMPTY CASING: A Soldier's Memoir of Sarajevo under Siege

Academic journal article Military Review

EMPTY CASING: A Soldier's Memoir of Sarajevo under Siege

Article excerpt

EMPTY CASING: A Soldier's Memoir of Sarajevo Under Siege, Fred Doucette, Douglas and Mclntyre Ltd., Vancouver, 2008, 228 pages, $18.95.

Empty Casing: A Soldier 's Memoir of Sarajevo Under Siege is not just another Balkan War book. Fred Doucette, an experienced infantryman who served 32 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, has written a poignant, often disconcerting book about the effects of war on the human mind. Doucette uses his own experience while a member of a United Nations Military Observer Team in BosniaHerzegovina in 1995 to examine the effects of traumatic operational stress and makes a great contribution toward understanding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a soldier's perspective. The book focuses on two main themes: that civilians as well as combatants can suffer traumatic stress injuries, and that PTSD is treatable.

Doucette describes the hostile environment of Bosnia in 1995 and recounts events that occurred during his deployment, including running from Mount Igman to Sarajevo to link up with his UN mission observer team, performing his missions and daily activities, and interacting with the Mehmebegovic family and other Bosnians who remained in Sarajevo.

Doucette easily moves from strategic, operational, and tactical perspectives to the tactical level, where he is most effective vividly describing the horrific sights, smells, and frustrations he experienced. Doucette provides insight into the emotions and dilemmas he struggled with every day. He describes how his brain automatically "switched" into survival mode following a near-fatal mortar attack and how he had to be hyper-vigilant to complete the mission. These descriptions provide the context for the internal battles he experiences later. …

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