Autopsy of War: A personal History
Author: John A. Parrish,M.D.
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
As a book publicity firm, we see lots of books cross our desks here at Newman Communications and some make a strong statement to those of us working them. This book is no exception, and in fact, it prompted me to make a donation to the USO and tell my friends and colleagues about it. How does a man or woman return from war and resume a “normal” life. How do you deal with the horrors that you have seen during war and transform back to everyday life? John Parrish’s book, Autopsy of War, shows that it is not an easy task for our returning warriors. Even with a very successful medical career, Parrish couldn’t shake the PTSD that haunted his every move. John Parrish came to us for a full book publicity campaign in the hopes that his experience will reach those most in need of his message, the many soldiers that think they are alone with their anguish. Whether they have lost limbs or the damage is unseen to the eye, the struggle that our returning heroes face is gigantic.
Navy physician John Parrish served in Vietnam, an experience that seared him to the bone. In the ensuing four decades, Parrish became recognized as one of the most innovative physicians in his field, yet he was tortured by PTSD. Now, in AUTOPSY OF WAR: A Personal History, Parrish presents a profound and unflinching memoir of a physician’s wartime work in Vietnam and his forty-year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
John’s struggle was highlighted in The Boston Globe interview for their G Section and our radio publicity campaign has garnered many hits including:
- Clearchannel Network & SiriusXM
- Premiere Radio Network – national
- Lifestyle Radio Network – national
and local radio stations nationwide
When he first arrived in Vietnam, Parrish was a triage doctor, treating as many as thirty patients a day with wounds more destructive and life-altering than anything he had ever encountered. He did his best but never felt like it was enough. Dismembered limbs and other body parts flowed through his hands for hours on end, and these tragic triage scenes were not something his mind would ever forget. When not working on wounded servicemen, Parrish also tended to patients at a tuberculosis hospital in Hue, which was run by Vietnamese Catholic nuns. He felt he was doing some good there, until the Tet Offensive brought the Viet Cong to Hue, where they executed the patients because they had been treated by an American doctor, and also killed the nuns for working with Parrish. Parrish would also spend time in the field, which was a particularly difficult time for him, since it was then, says Parrish, that “I felt a duty to find meaning in the war so I could convince myself the dead had not died in vain.”
Although happy to return home to the States, Parrish left Vietnam feeling guilty about leaving behind so much suffering. He also returned home a different person. He found himself physically and emotionally unavailable to his wife and children, developed an obsession with war books and movies, and over the ensuing years, would suffer harrowing flashbacks. Fighting the mental devastation of war, Parrish lived virtually homeless at times, visited veterans’ shelters and fled his family while reliving his Vietnam experience over and over again. Despite the fact that he managed to establish a prominent medical career, few knew how his inner demons took over the rest of his life. “I found myself increasingly restless, tortured, and lonely,” says Parrish, “never more so than at social events or professional meetings where my peers assumed I was in control.” The present continued to mingle with the past as haunting images of Vietnam lingered in his mind, until the door to recovery finally opened after years of pain and struggle.
AUTOPSY OF WAR is a soul-searching and intensely personal journey through the world of war and recovery. An honest, moving, and intimate view of one man’s courageous battle to overcome PTSD, it is a highly relevant story today as soldiers return to the U.S. from abroad with challenges to face. “I accept that there will always be war,” says Parrish, “but I need to believe more can be done to help its victims, specifically the warriors who have left the battlefield but not their personal war. This book is witness to the power of time, acceptance, self-discovery, hard work, and love in belatedly diminishing one man’s psychic war.”
About the Author:
JOHN A PARRISH, M.D., is the CEO of the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT); the CEO of the Red Sox Foundation-Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program (an outreach program to help veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars with PTSD and traumatic brain injury); and Distinguished Professor of Dermatology and former department head at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the author of 12, 20 & 5: A Doctor’s Year in Vietnam.
To learn more about Autopsy of War please visit: http://autopsyofwar.com/