Crossings by Jon Kerstetter


Jon Kerstetter

In Crossings, Jon Kerstetter beautifully illuminates war and survival, the fragility of the human body, and the strength of will that lies within.

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Every juncture in Jon Kerstetter’s life has been marked by a crossing from one world into another: from civilian to doctor to soldier; between healing and waging war; and between compassion and hatred of the enemy. When an injury led to a stroke that ended his careers as a doctor and a soldier, he faced the most difficult crossing of all, a recovery that proved as shattering as war itself.

Crossings is a memoir of an improbable, powerfully drawn life, one that began in poverty on the Oneida Reservation in Wisconsin but grew by force of will to encompass a remarkable medical practice. Trained as an emergency physician, Kerstetter’s thirst for intensity led him to volunteer in war-torn Rwanda, Kosovo, and Bosnia, and to join the Army National Guard. His three tours in the Iraq War marked the height of the American struggle there. The story of his work in theater, which involved everything from saving soldiers’ lives to organizing the joint U.S.–Iraqi forensics team tasked with identifying the bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons, is a bracing, unprecedented evocation of a doctor’s life at war.

But war was only the start of Kerstetter’s struggle. The stroke he suffered upon returning from Iraq led to serious cognitive and physical disabilities. His years-long recovery, impeded by near-unbearable pain and complicated by PTSD, meant overcoming the perceived limits of his body and mind and re‑‑ imagining his own capacity for renewal and change. It led him not only to writing as a vocation but to a deeper understanding of how healing means accepting a new identity, and how that acceptance must be fought for with as much tenacity as any battlefield victory.

Advance Galley Reviews

Thanks for the ARC of this book. Reading the first half of the book, I was giving up hope of sticking with it. The war experiences were vivid and the witnessed trauma horrific. The physician is accomplished and a hero . I felt guilty for not liking him. There seemed to be cursory mentions that his deployments were tough on his wife and family.I can't imagine how tough it was on them. Families of the deployed ihave a very rough road to hoe. I realize this was the physian's memoir but I would lliked to to read how his family coped . Once the book shifted to his stroke/ neuro deficits, I was all in. I think his recovery and emotional and physical reactions ran true. For a control freak to come to terms with these deficits was honest and another type of heroism. Anyone who has to confront this type of recovery is a changed person.It is not necessarily who you want to be.but being the best person you can be is no small task. I would recommmend this read to anyone who has attempted recovery from a catastrophic health event or those who care for them.

This book is hitting SO close to home for me. We have a current Army physician in our family, and I am really enjoying this physician's account of his career so far. I've had to step away a few times because the book has resonated with my family so much, but in a good way. I am looking forward to finishing this story!

Although the writer's life is undeniably interesting, the writing itself didn't keep my interest. I couldn't finish the book.


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