What is the True Cost of War? Scars of the Prophet by Mingo Kane What cost is the price of freedom? Some don't come home. That means that there are children without fathers, wives without husbands, mothers without their children. Those who do survive come home broken. The only place they belong is among each other because other veterans are the only ones who understand. They live suffering in silence, and some days they wake up and wonder if today will be the day when they just can't stand it anymore and pull the trigger. The price paid by veterans returning from combat goes way beyond what others who have never done it can ever imagine or even conceive. Dying inside every day because sometimes the only thing they have left is their Brothers. They do what they do for their families, for country, for fellow brothers in arms, and they pay the price over and over until they die. Try living like that. You couldn't. Only the best get called, and if they are lucky, they get to say "No greater thing can a man do than lay his life down for his friends." (The Bible, John 15:13) Although the ways people get PTSD are endless, the type of PTSD that comes from combat is very different. Men are asked to go into combat as trained killers, and when they come out, they're sent back home to live in a world where the type of violence they have experienced isn't called for. It isn't just what they have seen that causes them so much pain; it is the violence that rages inside that must be, but can never never be, tamed. Tom Judah is just such a man, and he is much more: a perfectionist, who chooses to become one of the elite of the elite, a professional. He craves immortality. The other side of his struggle is this: he craves the peace that comes from never having served in combat, the peace of having a life, being connected, being loved. For service members, war is often portrayed like this: â€œWe follow our leader, our demonslaying God, Weâ€™re the prophets of ruin in his demonslaying squad. They sent us to fight in this foreign land, Devil Dogs killing in the Iraqi sand. If I die in the combat zone, Just box me up and ship me home. Flag on my coffin, medals on my chest, Blood on the hands that did their best.â€? (Marine Cadence, Scars of the Prophet, Mingo Kane) The reality is much different, and for those who survive, the return home is far from the glory of war. It's not about parades, or even winning. It is about learning how to survive, and live, in a world where the trained professional killer is not only ignored, but unwanted and often mishandled in his journey to healing and peace. "Scars of the Prophet" is the story of Marine Tom Judah, who has just returned from combat. He is making a cross country journey to get back home. As he returns home, he relives different events from his tours. During the trip, he meets a girl, Jessica Spire, and they fall in love. The question is, will Tom finally find the happy ending he so richly deserves? As literary fiction goes, and any fiction for that matter, this book has a lot to recommend it. The author has a love affair with adjectives, but this definitely isn't your ordinary pairing. Although it would be simple to lapse into the usual pairings used in military fiction, Mingo Kane avoids that. Then there is the use of first person for the main character, Tom Judah. It gets really personal, and I have
to tell you that it definitely brought a few tears to my eyes. As a veteran I never really understood the full extent of what we go through, combat or not, until I read this book. It explains much about why we often experience life as the proverbial square peg in a round hole. I found it to be a healing experience though, and I reached a better understanding not only of myself but also the complexity of the issue of PTSD. Ultimately, this is what makes any fiction really good: the ability of the author to affect you in ways you don't always understand. It's also about connecting with you on a deeper level and drawing you into a world you may never have explored before and then walking away with a new and different perspective about how the world really works. This book also gets high marks for its realism. The author skillfully weaves his flashbacks into the story, telling about Tom's experiences in combat and those he serves with. His sergeant, Johnson is definitely a favorite, and we see a side of war no one ever talks about, and that's those who come home, mentally unscathed at least because they choose not to allow their experiences to influence the future direction of their lives. The dialogue is sharp and gives you a unique perspective into the minds of those who live in incomprehensible world. Kane weaves a gritty realism into the whole experience, and again it's personal: “Well I appreciate that tidbit of information, sir. But Judah is staying right where he’s at for now.” “I think you’re making a bad decision and I wish you would reconsider my offer and try to work with me on this, Sergeant. I have counseled Corporal Judah several times and I’ve noticed that he has begun to use you and the military as a surrogate to replace his deceased mother.” Johnson shook his head and lit a cigarette, “I can’t send him back to the states.” “Why? One man is easily replaced, Sergeant.” “Because he’s one of my best soldiers and I actually wish I had an entire platoon of men just like him.” “You can’t be serious, Sergeant Johnson.” “You’re goddamn right I am, sir. I need men who will not hesitate when the time comes to kill. If a man hesitates in combat, he shifts the advantage to the enemy and I face losing one of my men, and I’m not here to bury American soldiers.” “What are you here for then?” “To let these sand niggers bury their people instead of me burying mine.” Kane proves he understands how to handle the various elements of not just fiction but literary fiction. There are no happy endings in this type of fiction, just a fresh and new knowledge of what life is all about, the choices we make, and how those choices influence the rest of our lives. I particularly enjoyed the romantic side of this book. The tender moments between Jessicah and Tom bring you some relief from the realities of war and allow you to see the more human side, the man who is Tom Judah. It is obvious Kane mined deep from a wealth of experience to provide these details. There's no flowery language here though. It's more like a soldier right after basic training, lean and mean. The humor is also well played and influences the pacing, but it rounds out the story nicely so you get a really good look at who these people are. The ending is unexpected but satisfying and makes perfect sense. This is a well crafted story by an author who understands how to handle the details of a story, but he also understands how to tell a story. He takes even the most mundane details of life we never think about and make them interesting. They draw you in and keep you coming back for more. This book definitely made me want to take a second look at literary fiction. For those who have passed on literary fiction before, I highly recommend this book. For those who love military fiction, you'll enjoy the story, and you may just take away a few of the things I found. Well done!
Want to know more? Then connect with Mingo Kane on Facebook. Get the Kindle here: Scars of the Prophet. Jinger Jarrett is an an author and top reviewer for Amazon. Read her books: Jinger Jarrett's Books or read more of her book reviews: Jinger Jarrett's Book Reviews.