Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War

by Dennis W. Brandt

From the publisher:
Shell-shock; battle fatigue; post-traumatic stress disorder; lacking moral courage: Different words for the same mental condition, formal names that change with observed circumstances and whenever experts feel the urge to invent a more suitable descriptive term for the shredding of the human spirit.

The specter of psychological dysfunction has marched beside all soldiers in all wars, always at the ready to ravish minds. Yet, rarely does it show itself when the topic is America's greatest conflict, the Civil War. A public that venerates well-preserved battlefields seems never to consider that mind-destroying terror was as much present at Gettysburg and Antietam as it was in Vietnam and is now in Baghdad and Afghanistan. This book presents the true but rare story of one young Pennsylvanian who marched into war with a patriotic chip on his shoulder only to stagger home under the burden a two-year life-and-death struggle had pressed upon him.

Dennis W. Brandt is an independent scholar.