SOCIAL SCIENCES

Touching the Dragon: And Other Techniques for Surviving Life's Wars

Hatch, James & . Knopf. May 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780451494689. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494696. BIOG
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OrangeReviewStarHatch spent nearly 25 years in the military, mostly with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or SEAL Team Six. This work, coauthored with documentary filmmaker and writer D'Andrea, begins with Hatch describing a horrific injury in Afghanistan and the immediate aftermath as his comrades saved his life. While in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hatch learned to appreciate the dedication of his unit's canines. Note that several of the author's most memorable stories involve the death of dogs in combat. Later, Hatch had to deal with his guilt, pain, and the emotional damage from years of fighting. He refers to cognitive behavioral therapy as "Touching the Dragon"; a reminder that he would not get burned by reliving the brutal memories. Using that tool and others has helped him heal, and he's since created a nonprofit benefiting combat animals in the name of his dog, Spike.
VERDICT In the vein of many recent memoirs about survival after combat, such as Matt Young's Eat the Apple and Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O'Reilly's Shooting Ghosts, this important account will touch readers and likely help other veterans learn how to live after war.

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