The Vietnam War Novel That Made PTSD Real

Vietnam War Cult-Classic Re-Published: 30th Anniversary Edition of Sergeant Back Again is re-released today with a new “AfterWords” by the author, Charles Coleman, Ph.D.

Online PR News – 04-November-2010 – – After thirty years from its debut in 1980, Charles Coleman’s ground-breaking and insightful novel depicting the early signs, symptoms, origins and first attempts at treatment for Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD has just been re-released by PTSD PRESS.

First published by Harper & Row as a gripping drama of the psychological trials and tribulations of a talented Army medic serving in a besieged surgical field hospital at the height of the Vietnam War, Sergeant Back Again is being hailed by scholars, medical doctors, historians and film critics as the first and most penetrating study of combat-related psychological trauma ever written in presaging today’s diagnosis of PTSD.

Often cited as “the Vietnam War cult-classic that made PTSD real,” Sergeant Back Again “is the crucible of PTSD.”

“One sees now in all of this a book about a story we probably recognized but did not know at the time how to read, at least in its newest, challenging, creative iteration. Certainly we saw the relatively familiar outlines of a genre: the literature of shell shock; combat exhaustion; battle fatigue, born of a century of head cases. But this is the Vietnam War novel that made PTSD real!” writes Vietnam War veteran, writer, and literary critic Philip Beidler.

Now being compared to Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Herr’s Dispatches, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Hemingway’s “A Way You’ll Never Be,” Coleman’s cult-classic is taught in high schools and colleges as well as in medical schools and outpatient clinics.

As Vietnam War journalist and media critic, Tony Williams, succinctly observes: “By compassionately over-identifying with his wounded patients on the battlefields and jungles in Vietnam by surgically attempting to put them back together again, and finding them fragmented again when physical and mental sutures fall apart again, U.S. Army medical corpsman Specialist Andrew Collins retreats into a fantasy world unable to reconcile the torturous contradictions between what he feels and what he sees. He attempts to distance himself, but as his mirror-like notebook reveals: ‘We are killing ourselves in our obsession and hatred of what we are becoming.’ Indeed, “the lessons of Sergeant Back Again still remain to echo in eternity in the minds of us all,” writes Williams.

“In this sense, Collins’ story is universal, just as relevant now as it was when Coleman’s novel debuted. Collins is the young recruit who saw too much suffering in Iraq and now sees it in his dreams; he’s the Afghanistan veteran who physically came home but mentally still patrols the caves and mountains,” comments psychiatrist Harold Kudler, M.D.

“This is not the story of an old war; it’s the story of a young American,” says screenwriter and film critic, Nathan Beck. “The crimson parallax still affects the hearts and minds of the men and women who serve our country, and just as Charles Coleman’s novel of thirty years ago made PTSD real, so will a film version of today.”

See for more information on the book or buy it directly here:

Edited by Ted Solotaroff:
Ted Solotaroff, Senior Editor at Harper & Row, was Dr. Coleman’s editor, resulting in what George Kearns describes in The Hudson Review as: “The strongest, best-written novel by a young writer I have seen for a very long time is Charles Coleman’s Sergeant Back Again. Coleman’s scenes are never static presentations; he is a master of narrative rhythms, of allowing each scene to develop and move unpredictably, Sergeant Back Again is a novel about evil without a villain. I have not read all of the books that have come out of the Vietnam War, but I can’t imagine there will be one finer or more moving.”

About the Author:
Charles Coleman received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1977, and wrote what was to become Sergeant Back Again from 1974-1977, based on his experiences during the Vietnam War. Charles currently works in the field of medical infomatics and advanced clinical analytics and has studied PTSD from its earliest inception as Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) through today’s understanding of the disorder during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His next novel in his “PTSD Trilogy,” entitled DO NO HARM: The Co-ed Conspiracy and Why They Died, is due for publication late in 2010. A compendium of critical and clinical commentary about Sergeant Back Again and the history of PTSD is due out later in 2010 as well under the title: Sergeant Back Again—The Anthology of Critical and Clinical Commentary—Vol.1. All books by Charles Coleman are available at

About PTSD Press:
PTSD Press is committed to reviewing and publishing literary and clinical works regarding PTSD. Articles, monographs, papers, fiction and non-fiction regarding the subject of PTSD should be submitted to Editorial Staff, PTSD Press, 242 Henrys Ridge Road, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Always include SASE. The editors are NOT responsible for the loss of any materials. PTSD Press will be publishing a new on-line journal, PTSD TODAY staring in 2011.

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