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Conrad Farrell’s family has no military heritage, but as a classics major at Williams, he saw the sturdy appeal of the Marine ethic: Semper fidelis came straight from the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full-time soldier. When Conrad joined the Marines after college, he expected to further along tradition of honor, courage, and commitment.
Now Conrad has just returned home to Westchester after four years in Iraq, and something is very wrong. Everything should be fine - he hasn’t been shot or wounded by an IED, and he’s never had psychological troubles - but as he attempts to reconnect with his girlfriend and find his footing in the civilian world, he has an impossible time adjusting to the people and places he used to love and to a commonplace life of hotel reservations, dinner conversation, long showers, and alone time. As the weeks turn into months, Conrad’s bitterness only festers, and he begins to fear that his rage, when it comes out, will have irreparable consequences.
Suspenseful and perceptive, Sparta captures the nuances of the unique estrangement that modern soldiers face as they attempt to rejoin the society they’ve fought for. With the powerful insight and acuity that marked Cost and her earlier novels, Robinson has delivered her best book yet.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By MAUREEN on 08-07-13
Many interesting and revealing insights on PTSD
What did you love best about Sparta?
LOVE about the book? That's not possible--I liked the honesty that was portrayed by the main characters as they struggled to help their son/brother/friend whose PTSD became so obvious after his return from active duty and multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. I read a few other people's reviews--mostly from veterans that described the author's innaccuracies on PTSD--and I cannot comment on these because I am not a veteran, but I can comment on the family and close friends. The author's treatment of the devastation these wars have wreaked on our society and my immediate family were accurate.
What did you like best about this story?
I don't know if 'like' is a prompt that I could respond to in terms of what was liked about the story--except perhaps the ending--it was positive, albeit too abrupt. It was like--okay, you took us here, and now you are just going to leave us here--and many of us already knew what it was like to get there--we want to know what to do next.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
Learn how to pronounce words correctly--many words were mispronounced by him. I always wonder if authors listen to the reading of their books--because I think they should and then get these narrators to correct their pronounciations. We pay for audible books and deserve the best in audio presentation.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. It was too upsetting since much was too familiar--my nephew returned from his third tour and completed suicide with a bullet to his brain.
Any additional comments?
The author should have described more about what could have been done to improve the experiences of returning veteran soldiers. I know the criticism of the V.A., the Military etc. about its terrible aftercare for veterans is commonplace--yet we need to know what to do. The author suggested rather superficial (although helpful) strategies to help vets with PTSD such as 'seating in restaurants'-- AHEM--something she mentioned multiple times, yet she never provided the reader with any glimmer of hope for promising methods of care for soldiers with PTSD.
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