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Never Leave Your Dead : A True Story of War Trauma, Murder, and Madness (Paperback) (Diane Cameron)
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In March of 1953, Donald Watkins, a former Marine who served in China during the Japanese invasion of 1937, murdered his wife and mother-in-law. After serving twenty-two years in Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane, he was released and eventually married again. A decade later, Donald may or may not have been the cause of his second wife's death, as well.
Author Diane Cameron uncovers the true story of her stepfather, Donald Watkins. Was he a traumatized veteran? A victim of abuse in the mental-health system? Was he a criminal? Mentally ill? Or just eccentric?
As she unravels this mystery, Cameron finds healing and understanding with her own struggles and history of family abuse. She discovers an unlikely collection of role models in the community of the China Marines, as they were known. Together, they help put the pieces of shared war experience in perspective and resolve the more complex issue of understanding trauma itself.
With insights drawn from diverse experts such as Thomas Szasz and Bessel van der Kolk, Cameron unlocks the connection between the experience of veterans of past wars and those who deal with the war trauma today.
Donald's story traverses continents and decades. Never Leave Your Dead is a stark examination of dysfunctional family dynamics in the face of mental illness.
Diane Cameron is an award-winning columnist. An excerpt from Never Leave Your Deadwas first published in the Bellevue Literary Review and was nominated for a 2006 Pushcart Prize.