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Acclaimed author of ‘Achilles in Vietnam' to speak March 13

Austin Peay State University will host the talk, The End of an Odyssey: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, by Dr. Jonathan Shay at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 13 in Clement Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Shay received a B.A. (1963) from Harvard University and an M.D. (1971) and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1987, he has been a staff psychiatrist at the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston.
Austin Peay State University will host the talk, “The End of an Odyssey: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming,” by Dr. Jonathan Shay at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 13 in Clement Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Shay received a B.A. (1963) from Harvard University and an M.D. (1971) and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1987, he has been a staff psychiatrist at the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston.

Shay was named a MacArthur Fellow for 2007. In 2001, he served as Visiting Scholar-at-Large at the U.S. Naval War College. During 2004-05, he was chair of Ethics, Leadership and Personnel Policy in the Office of the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.

A world-renowned medical specialist, author and classicist, Shay earned international fame with his best-selling book, “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character,” published in 1994 by Simon and Schuster. For years, this book has been required as part of the U.S. Marine Corps professional reading program.

In “Achilles in Vietnam,” Shay presents the “Iliad” as the tale of Achilles' tragedy and as a description of men at war. He uses numerous veterans' narratives to illustrate the parallel he draws, believing it will provide a greater understanding of the Vietnam veterans, the “Iliad” and, perhaps most useful, the public's capacity to be disturbed by the result of war on participants.

Shay acknowledges his views are not novel, but they are presented forcefully with documentation from veterans' personal testimonies and Homer's narrative of an earlier war. Shay was endeavoring to show the psychologically damaging results of war in an effort to prevent future wars.

With a foreword by Senators John McCain and Max Cleland and published by Scribner in 2002, Shay's new work, “Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming,” focuses on the veteran's experience upon returning from war and highlights the role of military policy in promoting the mental and physical safety of soldiers.

For more information about Shay's guest lecture at APSU, please contact Dr. Tim Winters, professor of languages and literature, by telephone at (931) 221-7118 or e-mail winterst@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke