Book Review: The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan by Bryan Doerries

Technically a DNF. I found it too hard to reconcile the fact this was just a literal retelling of the Odyssey + parallel frames of modern-day soldiers. A solider in the book is literally just retelling the Odyssey to his men, which I thought was a lazy concept (Sing, Sergeant, the rage of Amanda!). If Boerries wanted to just retell the Odyssey, he should have just RETOLD THE ODYSSEY. No need to make a grand statement and fall flat in the attempt.

I gave this to my bf, who was in the air force, to read and he couldn’t finish it either, saying something to the effect of “This guy [Doerries] doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” The point being, Odysseus should NOT be the poster child for PTSD. Nope, nope, nope. The connection between what Odysseus faced and what modern day soldiers deal with is NOT the same. If he is going to have PTSD from anything, war would be the last on the long list. It would more likely be from being raped by a goddess–from being tortured by the gods–from seeing literal dead people.

Odysseus has very little reason for war PTSD compared to modern day soldiers. He grows up in a culture where war is viewed differently–where war is acceptable and a way of life. Songs are sung about it. Soldiers are glorified. Soldiers today come home to a culture where war is not OK (because war *isn’t* OK). Most songs to day are very anti-war (Country music excluded). Soldiers today also don’t have patron goddesses to ensure their smooth transition when they finally do make it back home (“Want some more youth, Odysseus? BOOM. Granted.” –literally Athena). Instead they get offered pills and suicide help lines.

Odysseus also goes through hell and back. He doesn’t have to wrestle with theological and moral questions. He knows where the dead go. He even gets to work out unfinished business with them. Soldiers never get that. So comparing their issues Odysseus’s just isn’t fair.

Odysseus has confidence (of belief and knowledge and magic) that regular soldiers never have. What’s more, he’s a king who is the only one of his men to make it home alive (cough, cough Athena).

This whole book rings as a sad attempt to get soldiers interested in the classics. Which I don’t think works. Yes, yes. History repeats itself and we can see the same old problems for humanity resurfacing again and again. That doesn’t mean we have to try and spell it out and work really really hard to prove that point. It’s a fact. Note it and move on. Don’t hold my hand like a two year old by giving us a comic book to make up for it.

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One thought on “Book Review: The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan by Bryan Doerries

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Ody-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward | AmandaPandaDUH

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