Soft Spots

A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Clint Van Winkle

St. Martin's Press

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A powerful, haunting, provocative memoir of a Marine in Iraq—and his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a system trying to hide the damage done

Marine Sergeant Clint Van Winkle flew to war on Valentine’s Day 2003. His battalion was among the first wave of troops that crossed into Iraq, and his first combat experience was the battle of Nasiriyah, followed by patrols throughout the country, house to house searches, and operations in the dangerous Baghdad slums.

But after two tours of duty, certain images would not leave his memory—a fragmented mental movie of shooting a little girl; of scavenging parts from a destroyed, blood-spattered tank; of obliterating several Iraqi men hidden behind an ancient wall; and of mistakenly stepping on a “soft spot,” the remains of a Marine killed in combat. After his return home, Van Winkle sought help at a Veterans Administration facility, and so began a maddening journey through an indifferent system that promises to care for veterans, but in fact abandons many of them.

From riveting scenes of combat violence, to the gallows humor of soldiers fighting a war that seems to make no sense, to moments of tenderness in a civilian life ravaged by flashbacks, rage, and doubt, Soft Spots reveals the mind of a soldier like no other recent memoir of the war that has consumed America.

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Book Excerpts

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RUM AND COKE SPLASHED onto the tiled floor when I bent down to pick up a dress blues blouse. The midnightblue top, with its high-neck collar, red piping, and thick white cotton belt, had been tailored to fit snug around my trim body. Things had changed, though, primarily my waistline, and it would have taken some sort of divine intervention to get the anodized buttons anywhere close to their corresponding buttonholes. But that didn’t stop me from trying.

No luck. I threw the blouse in the corner, rooted through the rest of the uniform pile.

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Praise for Soft Spots

"Nothing gets held back in Soft Spots, Clint Van Winkle's account of his two years of duty as a Marine sargeant in Iraq...lacerating honesty, the narrative is dreamlike and surreal." --The Washington Post

"More than just a retelling of one individual’s war experience: it is an account of the psychological absurdities of warfare, including the feelings and emotions of participating in combat and the sense of impossibility involved in coping with survival as well as being in such close proximity to death. [Van Winkle] doesn’t attempt to analyze the wrongs or rights of the Iraq war, to engage in political arguments, or to blame politicians. This is an account of a veteran who rather miraculously returns from war physically intact, only to find that his sanity and peace of mind are no longer intact." --The Officer


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About the Author

Clint Van Winkle

CLINT VAN WINKLE served for eight years in the United States Marine Corps, earning the rank of sergeant. While in Iraq he served as an Amphibious Assault Vehicle section leader, attached to Lima Company 3rd BN 1st Marines, and commanded eighteen other Marines. After two tours of duty, he returned to earn a BA in English from Arizona State University, then a MA in Creative Writing and Media from the University of Wales-Swansea, and began to publish pieces of this book in literary magazines. He lives with his wife in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Clint Van Winkle

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Available Formats and Book Details

Soft Spots
A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Clint Van Winkle

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
March 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429962643
ISBN10: 142996264X
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 224 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
March 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312602963
ISBN10: 0312602960
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 224 pages
$16.99
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