From Matthew's list on less-well-known books about World War 2.
It was working with the author on this book that first put me on to Monte Cassino – the whole place was one massive nervous breakdown. Compassionate but utterly unsentimental, Shephard tells the story of the very different diagnoses and treatments for what was called Shell Shock, then Battle Exhaustion, then PTSD. At its heart is the military doctor’s dilemma – the incompatibility of his role as healer and his obligation to get men back to the front. Nowhere else have I read such a vivid account of the effect of combat on the minds of soldiers.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
A War of Nerves is a history of military psychiatry in the twentieth century-an authoritative, accessible account drawing on a vast range of diaries, interviews, medical papers, and official records, from doctors as well as ordinary soldiers. It reaches back to the moment when the technologies of modern warfare and the disciplines of psychological medicine first confronted each other on the Western Front, and traces their uneasy relationship through the eras of shell-shock, combat fatigue, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
At once absorbing historical narrative and intellectual detective story, A War of Nerves weaves together the literary, medical, and military lore…