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MILITARY BRATS: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress
by Mary Edwards Wertsch, with an introduction by Pat Conroy
Military Brats is a startling, ground-breaking exploration of the long-term psychological effects of growing up in warrior society, with an emphasis on resolving the experience successfully. Based on five years of research, including in-depth interviews with 80 military brats as well as physicians, teachers, psychologists, social workers, and others, this book explores the profound consequences-both positive and negative-of being raised in a family characterized by rigid discipline, nomadic rootlessness, dedication to the military mission, and the threat of war and personal loss.
For daughters of the Fortress, the key issue is their invisibility to the warrior father, stemming from the biological fact that they could never be combat warriors themselves. But daughters nevertheless internalize the warrior model-and it serves them well in later life. For sons, the issue is often relentless, inescapable visibility: The fact of male gender draws the demanding gaze of the authoritarian warrior like a lightning rod, while approval and praise are rare. But sons who in adulthood learn to break out of this pattern heal not only themselves; they can become a bridge of healing for others, including their fathers.
With its clear-eyed, sometimes shocking explorations of alcoholism and domestic violence, and its empathy for military parents caught up in an extremely demanding way of life, Military Brats provides catharsis, insight, and a path toward healing. Military Brats not only defines America's most invisible minority for the very first time, it also passionately exhorts those children to come to terms with their negative Fortress legacies so that they might take full advantage of the positive endowment that is also their birthright.
Civilians will find this book eye opening. Military parents will find it at once challenging and sympathetic. And military brats will know in their hearts that this is the book they've been waiting for.
Raised in a military family, Mary Edwards Wertsch is a seasoned investigative journalist. She now lives in St. Louis with her husband and two sons.
If you'd like to learn more about this book, or about the
"A comprehensive, well-written and moving study
of the effects of military life on children -- who 'serve' with
no recognition or glory."
From the Introduction by Pat Conroy
"But Mary takes the testimony of these children
of the military experience and tells us what it means. With her
brilliant analysis of these far- flung anonymous voices, she
lets us know that we are brothers and sisters who belong to a
hidden, unpraised country. To those of us without homes or hometowns,
Mary Wertsch gives us, for the first time, a sense and spirit
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