Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell prided himself on being a hard-core Marine—a patriotic Devil Dog on his third tour of Iraq. Then his brain was shredded with mortar shrapnel.
Today, Maxwell has a large angry scar on the left side of his head. He forgets words, his wife has to read to him, and he drags one foot when he walks. Yet he works twelve-hour days as commander of the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For these warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan will never quite be in the past. And the struggle never ends.
Other stories in Wounded Warriors depict life inside an L.A. crack gang, ex-pat Vietnam War veterans in Thailand, and five days in Las Vegas with basketball anti-hero Kobe Bryant—all of it captured stylishly by the writer who has been called “the beat poet of American journalism.”
Veteran journalist Sager (Revenge of the Donut Boys) presents an amalgam of celebrity portraits and cautionary tales in a collection as addictive as the drugs and violence that fuel much of the author s reporting. The title story goes inside a pioneering program at Camp Lejeune, N.C., that helps wounded Marines many suffering from traumatic brain injuries return to society. In other pieces, Sager extends his war metaphor in portraits of the famous, the anonymous and the tragic: the misunderstood Kobe Bryant, Rev. Al Sharpton ( one of the most reviled men in America ) and nightclub bouncer and smartest man in America, Chris Langan. Some of the most compelling, and tragic, portraits are drawn from the darkest corners of American society: Generation H children of the nineties heroin addicts in New York City and teenage gang members in Venice, Calif. The author turns the spotlight on himself in Hunting Marlon Brando, a highly personal and quixotic odyssey to track down the elusive actor. Sager has made a career of finding the unexpected story and telling it with empathy and narrative skill a talent that s on display throughout this eclectic and consistently arresting collection.