Reviews

“An affecting meditation about our recent expeditionary wars, and the consequences for those we have sent into the fight.”

Rick Atkinson. Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Liberation Trilogy.

“searing memoir…   vitally important…”

Publisher’s Weekly.

Endorsing a book with the word “stunning” is a cliché, but with some books no other word will do. Seriously Not All Right is one of those books. Tracking his extraordinary career as both Army and Foreign Service officer, Ron Capps chronicles the staggering violence humans visit upon each other in the name of borders, politics, ethnicity, race, and tribe. Capps’s career carried him through a series of humanitarian catastrophes, from Kosovo to Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur, bringing him face to face with atrocities beyond ken. He details every haunted moment with unforgettable precision, but this book travels much further than that, becoming a textured inquiry into the nature of war and violence, a field guide to PTSD-induced madness and despair, and a map to survival and a rediscovery of hope. This powerful and necessary work teaches us that, while we cannot expunge the ghosts of history, we can and must bear witness and share the truth as we know it.”

Richard Currey, author of Fatal Light and Crossing Over: The Vietnam Stories.

“..this approaches the sublime.” 

Mark Thompson. TIME Magazine.

…a powerful, haunting testament to war, and the memory of war.”

Patrick Hicks, author of The Commandant of Lubizek.

“…a must-read for those who care about our nation, its wars, and the men involved in them. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another story like this one.”

Dario DiBattista. Courage Beyond.

“Capps is obviously master of the pointed understatement. … he delivers his stories with a club-chair confidence of clear-eyed reflection. Between emotional slugs to the gut, you can almost hear the clink of ice in the glass. … Seriously — you should read this book.”

Charlie Sherpa. Red Bull Rising.

“…stunningly good…”

Rachel Saslow. The Washington Post.

“An admirable, important memoir from a combat veteran and observer of genocide. … spot on. The learned wisdom of someone who has been there and done that.”

Donald Powell. Shelf Awareness.

“A compelling narrative of the conflicts of our time.”

General (ret) Carter Ham. Army Magazine.

“This is not just a book for Foreign Service officers or the military. It is for everyone who has a friend or family member who has been affected by the ravages of PTSD. It will help us understand them, and know they really can be ‘All Right.’ “

Doug Koneff. Foreign Service Journal.

“Capps pulled me places I knew I did not want to go, Yet, somehow, I went willingly, and emerged scarred but hopeful. He proves there is beauty to be found in the worst places, that there is recovery, and he reminded me to be thankful for my own place. Go with him.”

Kelly Kennedy. Author of They Fought For Each Other.

A disturbing, heartfelt but soul-weary account… It offers a human-scale view of an endless war mostly hidden from western view, a war of atrocities, blind violence, and hopelessness unto absurdity. There are flickers of caring, flickers, even, of love, but in the end there’s nothing but despair. The writing is crisp, authoritative, rueful, very much alive in the face of death, and political in the best sense: an eyewitness account.

Bill Roorbach. Author of Life Among Giants.

As a Foreign Service officer and soldier, Capps discovered firsthand the psychological and emotional tolls of wartime.The author, who is the founder and director of the Veterans Writing Project, begins his memoir with an account of the time he nearly committed suicide. Capps joined the military as a careerist back in the mid 1980s, though he was sharp enough to take and pass the Foreign Service exam, and he traveled to many global flashpoints during his career. The author writes in a fairly straightforward style—in Kabul, the ‘old market is…just as much a warren of alleys as it was five hundred years ago. It was a great place to take the temperature of the city—to walk around and get a feel for how safe things felt or what people were talking about’—but the narrative is thick with portent. Capps has seemingly seen it all, including Rwanda when the Hutus and Tutsis were slaughtering each other and battlegrounds in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The horrors of what he has witnessed, and his inability to right just one of the overturned carts, have followed him to bed at night—to call them nightmares would be to diminish their stark terror—and inflicted him with shakes, panic attacks and severe depression, as well as a horrible fear: ‘[T]he thing that really scares me and sends me running for help—is that I am not in control of my mind.’ Eventually, to combat his raging PTSD, Capps sought both psychiatric and pharmacological help, and he is now glad to no longer be a participant in the suffering of war. ‘There will always be wars and there will always be dead guys,’ he writes in closing. ‘But someone else is out there now. Godspeed to them. I’ve done my share. I’m going home.’ A mostly even-keeled soldier’s memoir that occasionally throws sparks.

Kirkus.

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