Bringing Home the War
Outskirts Press (2012)
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford for Reader Views (1/13)
Theresa Brandt’s autobiography “Bringing Home the War” begins with the end of her war.
In her second marriage as an ‘Army Wife’ to a Green Beret, John, the casualties of war Brandt describes, both on her home front (as well as the war John fought), are incredulous to say the least. The story opens with Theresa returning to her Missouri roots. This time, however, she is returning with her three sons, Nick, Gabe and Ben. She has left John behind, in the Tennessee home they made together the previous twelve years. As the story builds, Brandt reflects to her beginning and over the next couple-hundred pages, guides the reader as she fills in the details of her tumultuous and abusive life with John.
Over time, Brandt explains and defines the dynamics of her choices in not one but two men who demonstrated deep-seated abuse. Her first husband, Mark, as Brandt describes: ‘…was mad at the world and I was the easiest person to take out his anger on…’ In her second walk down the aisle, this time with John, it doesn’t take the reader long to figure out his tenacious appetite to pepper Brandt with the consistent dysfunctional behavior of emotional and mental incapacitation. Initially, John’s character is defined as a loving, caring and doting man—the kind of man Brandt is worthy of.
Brandt is methodical in the telling of her story as she steps the reader through her meeting John, eventually marrying and beginning to build a family with the imminent birth of their first son, Nick, followed by two more sons over the ensuing years. Through the process, Brandt has assumed the role of military wife as she adapts to military life. The precursor to the perfect military wife is to be sure all needs of their soldier are met and supported. All John ever wanted since he was nine-years-old was to follow in the footsteps of his familial, military heritage. With strong reservations, Brandt eventually acquiesces to John’s desires to become a Green Beret. He serves not one, two, three, but four tours in Iraq. Brandt struggles with John’s long departures and realizes after John’s return from his second tour that life as they had set out together to conquer was trickling a little further away with each return from his mounting tours of active duty. It is understandable why Brandt insists on standing by her man; if for nothing else, but for the sake of their children. However, this logic becomes more distorted the further into the story and the question that becomes more prevalent is: Why does she stay?
I have a lot of admiration and respect for Brandt’s telling of her story - the word ‘courage’ comes to mind. Some of the personal tragedies she shares concerning the continued victory John achieved toward the chipping away of her spirit are nothing less than inhumane and unconscionable. Overall, “Bringing Home the War” is well-organized. If I could want for something more, it would have been for Brandt to play more on the strengths she eventually found within herself once she began her journey toward personal healing. From an editorial standpoint, a keener focus would have been beneficial. Throughout the book, double wording, missed wording and words used in the wrong context are found. This is a difficult biography to read based on content, but I do give Brandt credit for jarring this reader on more than one occasion because of the content.