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The Soul of My Soldier


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About the Author

Abigail B. Calkin was born in Boston and raised in New England and New York's Greenwich Village. After moving to a few other states and living in Scotland, she settled in a very small town in Alaska's bush. Her first novel, and fourth book, Nikolin, was shortlisted for a Benjamin Franklin Award when it came out in 1994. She ventured into writing about commercial fishing when the woman wallpapering her house told her the story of her husband's fishing disaster and Coast Guard rescue. The events tumbled into her thoughts and became The Night Orion Fell. She also has had poetry, behavior analysis articles, and other nonfiction published. She currently works on books on self-esteem, PTSD, and a memoir about moving to Alaska. -


"Abigail Calkin's memoir is a beautifully written, deeply honest, and necessary book. This memoir blew me away."
--Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life and Safekeeping
"Calkin delves deeply, recounting the last 50+ years of her personal life, including her own struggles with trauma, and how she has coped with her lingering symptoms. Uniquely, she intersperses poetry throughout the work, which adds dimension and intensity to her revelations of life as the spouse of a soldier. Masterfully, Calkin outlines her culturally rich American roots, depicting herself as a feisty, yet sensitive woman; and a brilliant professional. Her appreciation for the sacrifices of American service members appears as primal and tangible as her respectful adoration of her husband, an Army veteran. This memoir bleeds with juxtapositions such as a Quaker woman marrying a soldier, and an independent woman entering into a military culture--wherein reliance on others is critical to mission success. Themes of growth, adaptation, and acceptance emerge throughout the work, mostly in reference to her marriage and life as an Army wife. These themes exemplify the endurance of the American military family, and may resonate with those readers who 'served' while their spouse wore the military uniform. Non-military readers may find this memoir insightful, while those in the military and veteran community may feel emboldened after reading. Calkin's description of her own marriage appears to be a metaphor for military service itself, whereby persistence and commitment to something larger than oneself delivers intrinsic rewards in spades."
--Dr. Kent A. Corso, OEF Veteran and President of NCR Behavioral Health
"The Soul of My Soldier is a unique and very personal account of what it is like, from a wife's perspective, to live with a career soldier and veteran of three combat tours in two very different wars. Abigail Calkin gives a very personal account of the issues faced and the coping skills acquired over a decades-long marriage that is at once instructive and deeply touching in its unfolding. She takes the time to also give her own biography so we might understand where she is coming from in the relationship.I served only briefly in Vietnam as a young aviator, but I have seen the wounds--physical and otherwise--that war inflicted on many returning veterans. Much later, I served as the Senior Director for Gulf War Illnesses on the National Security Council with responsibility for policy direction to improve DoD's response to the veterans returning from that war. No two wars are the same, yet the physical and mental anguish sustained in every one of them have remarkable similarities. Our nation's armed forces have made great strides in recognizing the effects of PTSD since the Vietnam War days, yet still have not found effective ways to ensure all returning veterans can find care sufficient to create coping skills to counter its effects, especially after separation from the service. Abigail's book offers an insider's view of how one person has managed. More importantly, she gives us a very personal perspective of what a soldier's family, and especially his or her spouse, encounters in the relationship. This is a very different viewpoint than that normally encountered in reading about PTSD and one that has long been needed."
Paul Busick, Rear Admiral, USCG (ret.)"Wives get Post-traumatic Stress Disorder during their husbands' deployments. Or, in this case, they turn to make art as a saving grace. This book holds wonderful combinations of essays and poetry with the assurance of a strong writer with subject matter no one would wish for. The prose is excellent--fast, clear reading--and the poetry is the tie that binds. Most of all, it's an example of an unimpeded mind that can emphasize, and even flourish, interesting words that warrant deep consideration."
--Washington Independent Review of Books
"This is a very nicely written book about the mental and spiritual problems of her husband and herself during the so far over forty years of marriage . . . "
--Dee Longenbaugh, KTOO
"The experiences recounted in "The Soul of My Soldier" are intensely personal . . . military families will find comfort in the relatability of this account."
--Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
"Raw, riveting, and engaging, Calkin recounts how war and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) shaped their marriage and family . . . [It's] a vivid exploration of the impact war has on loved ones, and how war affects deployed military personnel long after their tour of duty ends."
--Alaskan Dispatch News
"The Soul of My Soldier
makes its perfect practice the art of informed, intellectual generosity. Generosity between two partners, sure, and also between Calkin's smart, interrogating mind and the rest of the world, which is found complex and damaged but not destroyed--never destroyed while people still pay attention and while we are still trying to fix our mistakes, make things better and more peaceful than they were."
--Military Spouse Book Review

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