|Author:||LtCol Dave Grossman US Army (Ret.) PhD|
"On Combat" is an excellent blend of clinical research combined with real-life accounts as told by survivors of deadly force encounters. At times humorous, at times gut-wrenching, the goal of this book is to enlighten the warrior about what can happen to them mentally, physically, and psychologically before, during, and after a high-stress (i.e. firefight) incident.
I can not count how many times while reading this book I said to myself "so THAT"S what happened!!" or "Well, now that makes sense". Grossman goes into great detail to explain what happens to our bodies when someone is trying to kill us, and how we can deal with the after effects of that.
"Fore warned is fore armed". This is a common theme throughout the book. By giving a warrior information about what can happen in a high stress situation, it better prepares that warrior to deal with the effects of combat. If you know the bogey man is around the corner, it is not nearly as scary when he jumps out at you. You know what is coming and you can kick the bogey man square in the 'nads.
The "bogey man" in this case is a person's own body. Things like time slowing down, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion(things getting quiet) are all addressed in this book. Grossman stresses the need for training, as things like fine motor skills diminish when when the body is stressed. What this means is if you are not trained and prepared for it, when you need it the most you may not be able to control your fingers. Grossman also discusses the loss of other controls, like your bowels. While not a very glamorous topic, it is worth mentioning because it happens. It is not out of fear, just your body directing all it's efforts to keeping you alive. And in the grand order of things, bowel control is not essential to survival, at least not according to your unconscious self.
It is his willingness to address such once taboo topics that make this book such an invaluable tool for today's warrior. It can also serve as a guide for the loved ones of these warriors. While they may not be able to talk about what happened, this book can serve as a road map to help them heal, confront their past, and move on with a healthy life.
I know I am not doing this book justice with this review. All I can say is if my child was going be in a profession where the odds were they could come face to face with deadly force, this is the book I would give them. I only wish this book had been written early in my military career as I know it would have helped not only me, but many of my team mates as well. So in closing, don't take my word for, pick it up for yourself. You and your loved ones will be glad you did.