How do combat veterans and their loved ones bridge the divide that war, by its very nature, creates between them? How does someone who has fought in a war come home, especially after a tour of duty marked by near-daily mortar attacks, enemy fire, and roadside bombs? With a journalist’s eye and a mother’s warmth, Sue Diaz asks these questions as she chronicles the two deployments to Iraq of her son, Sgt. Roman Diaz, from the perspective of the home front.
Sergeant Diaz’s second deployment put him south of Baghdad in the region aptly termed the Triangle of Death. There his platoon experienced extraordinarily heavy casualties during the height of the Iraqi insurgency. That unit has since become the focus of considerable media attention following events that made headlines in the summer of 2006: an insurgent attack at a remote outpost on three of their own—one killed at the scene, the other two kidnapped, their bodies found days later; and a terrible war crime committed against an Iraqi family by four soldiers from First Platoon.
Minefields of the Heart adds a very personal dimension to the larger story of this Bravo Company platoon from the 101st Airborne’s 502nd Infantry Regiment, a unit known since World War II as the “Black Heart Brigade.” Diaz recounts the emotional rollercoaster her family and other soldiers’ families experience during and after deployment. She explores this terrain not only through stories of her son’s and family’s experiences connected to the Iraq War, but also by insights she’s gained from other veterans’ accounts—from what she calls “the box” that soldiers returning from any war carry within. This added layer gives her narrative broader meaning, bringing home the impact of war in general on those who fight and on those who love them.
Minefields of the Heart is a story of innocence lost, understanding gained, and hope reaffirmed. In addition to veterans and their families, this book will appeal to anyone who wants to understand war’s impact on individuals as well as on the fabric of our society.
“San Diego author Sue Diaz’s gentle voice rises above the fray and begs our attention—not with glennbeckian outrage, not with self-righteous bombast, not with armchair general postulating, but with the tender and sorrowfully sane tale she tells. [The book] is wondrous and eloquent in its intimacy, in its simplicity, in the unquestionable stories of a mother and a son entwined in a war that will be debated for generations.”—The North County Times, California, Sunday, October 3, 2010
“Minefields of the Heart is an honest, thoughtful, and heart-warming account of a mother’s love for her son and the many great veterans like him. Sue Diaz takes the reader through a personal account of the emotional burden so many shoulder while loved ones serve in harm’s way. Her understanding of the struggles of veterans and their families after deployment is genuine, accurate, heart wrenching, and healing. This book spoke to me as a psychologist, father, husband, and veteran.”—Bret A. Moore, author of Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life after Deployment and Kevlar for the Mind, www.militarypsych.com
“[An] absorbing and intimate memoir…unblinkingly determined to dig deep, to ask big questions and move toward the answers. Diaz’s emotional honesty is matched by her stellar writing: her prose is polished and, at times, achieves a quiet, soaring lyricism.”—The Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2010
“Minefields of the Heart is very finely written. Because a mother’s love is so overpowering, so singular in its focus, I had half-feared that this book would be a morass of melodrama. But Sue Diaz is a disciplined and careful writer and this, ultimately, is where the power of her book comes from. She is spare where most writers would be mawkish, she is understated where most writers would be sentimental, and she understands that life, death, war, grief, gratitude and the loss of innocence—hers, and her son’s—need no baroque writerly adornments. The truly great and terrible stuff of life is most dramatic when told as simply and plainly as possible. Over the course of her book, the reader comes to know not just Roman, but the whole Diaz family and how they all aged and matured both during and after Roman’s two harrowing deployments.”—From the Foreword by Jim Frederick, author of Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death
“Minefields of the Heart is an accessible and well told reflection on the impact of war on the families of our troops today. It is an intimate look through a mother's eyes, giving us a heartfelt appreciation of the military family experience.”—Edward Tick (author of War and the Soul) and Kate Dahlstedt, co-directors of Soldier's Heart
“Harrowing, hopeful, and beautifully written. Ernie Pyle meets Anne Lamott.”—Sharon Bray, author of When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer
“Minefields of the Heart is a brilliant, beautiful, and compelling book. Sue Diaz writes as the mother of one soldier and the daughter of another. She traces her son’s transition from a boy to a combat-wounded veteran of two tours in Iraq. She lets him speak for himself through emails, letters and conversation, all the while growing in her understanding of him and of war. She weaves together her family’s history with the larger events through which they have passed. Though intended specifically ‘for all who have served and those who love them,’ the book should be read by any American who wants to understand what war really does to those who endure and to their families. As a bonus, the book is a real page-turner. You can’t put it down until you finish it.”—William P. Mahedy, author of Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets
“This is a book to break your heart, and to heal it. Diaz writes to and for her son, to and for the veterans she leads in writing workshops. The larger gift of this book is its generosity, allowing the reader to take the journey of a mother whose son carries the wounds of two deployments to Iraq. Minefields of the Heart teaches us what we might rather not know, but knowing, we are deeper and better human beings.”—Pat Schneider, founder, Amherst Writers & Artists, and author of Writing Alone and with Others