I mentioned earlier that my review of Ethan Chorin’s Benghazi! is now available online. You can read it at https://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/index.php/bookreview/benghazi-a-new-history-of-the-fiasco-that-pushed-america-and-its-world-to-the-brink
The book tells the story of brutal attacks just over ten years ago in the city of Benghazi in Libya. Quoting from the review, “On September 11, 2012, the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia launched the first of two attacks against United States government facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The first assault, at 9:40 a.m., was against the American diplomatic compound. It killed both U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Then, around 4 a.m. the next morning, the group struck again, launching a mortar attack against a CIA annex a mile away, killing two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, and wounding 10 others.”
The book had a profound emotional effect on me because the story reminded me so vividly of what I lived through during the thirteen years that I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. And so much that happened in Benghazi sounded like the final days of Saigon in April 1975 when I and the two communicators who were holed up with me were subjected to continuous shelling, first rockets, then artillery. I finally succeeded in getting my two guys out by helicopter on the afternoon of April 29. I escaped that night under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city.
Because of my time in combat and living through shelling, I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). That means, among other things, that detailed descriptions, like those in Benghazi!, of fighting on the battlefield awaken in me the symptoms of PTSI— irrational rages, panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, and depression. But because of my background and expertise, I am repeatedly given for review books about war. So I have trained myself to react more calmly.
And I have no complaints. I’m proud of my time spent in combat and the lives I saved with the signals intelligence I provided. That pride is more important than the wounds to my soul that combat inflicted.