People had recommended this book to me for years, saying that it depicted PTSD very well. Unfortunately, since no one elaborated that it was a historical novel about WWI, I mixed it up with a novel called Restoration, by Carol Berg, which I couldn't get more than a chapter into, and which involved slaves, demons, and emo winged dudes. I always assumed the PTSD must come later.

Regeneration is a historical novel about a psychiatric hospital treating shell-shocked WWI soldiers with the goal, ideally, of sending them back to the front. Dr. Rivers is a compassionate if rather distant psychiatrist with a deeply-held and well-reasoned belief that the war, though terrible, is necessary. But as he treats men and listens to their horrific stories, and sees the damage the war wrought on their bodies, minds, and souls, he begins to suffer from second-hand traumatization. And, more troubling to him, he begins to doubt.

The main story follows Rivers' therapy with Siegfried Sassoon, an intellectual kindred spirit whom Rivers is determined to bring round to the view that he must return to the front rather than get court-martialed for declaring that the war is wrong. But the omniscient POV also follows other patients and other doctors, and then the people they get involved with: their families, their girlfriends, townspeople and soldiers. As the effects of the war ripple outward, so does every small moment of human kindness and cruelty. The elegant, clear prose and understated tone conveys both the utter horror of the situations, and how those horrors become both unbearable and unremarkable.

Fantastic book - great writing, great characterization, historically interesting, very psychologically astute. It does depict PTSD very well, and also conversion disorders ("hysterical paralysis/blindness/etc,") which were much more common then than now.

There are two sequels. Has anyone read them?

Regeneration (Regeneration Trilogy)
10:00 AM on Mondays. That's what I call starting the week with a bang!

Awesome: One of the required texts is The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips.

Less Awesome: It also requires a course reader costing $140. WTF!

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