Interview with Brian Rees

1. Who are you and what is this book about?
I’m a physician who was in the US Army (active and reserve) for over 37 years. I received mobilization orders seven times since 9/11; five of those deployments were to Iraq & Afghanistan. While there I wrote many emails home. They gave my friends and family an inside look at life at Saddam Hussein’s trial, Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca, Kandahar, Bagram, and elsewhere. People told me ‘this is great stuff, you should put it in a book.’ Since the emails rendered the book already half-done I went ahead and completed it. But while I was in theater I also considered, why was I there? Why do we go to war? Much of the book deals with what I learned about war.
2. What did you find most difficult in the Middle East?
Family separation is tough, and the environment was often unpleasant; but most difficult are the casualties, including those of civilians on the battlefield. Warfighters have an incredible challenge trying to fight an insurgency, often in populated areas with children and other non-combatants nearby.
3. But why write a book?
I saw the birth of cases of Posttraumatic Stress (PTS). Serving with great people, I wanted to tell their stories and honor their sacrifices. All profits from the book will go to charitable organizations that support veterans, especially those suffering from posttraumatic stress.
4. You have a lot of commentary on Islam. What did you learn?
I had a chance to meet and talk with many Muslims, and read a number of sharp authors. There is a war of ideas within Islam. Mustafa Akyol describes a growing disconnection between Islam and its spiritual basis over the last century or so. It’s morphed into political statement, a means of resistance to the domination of the West; and for some people, violent Jihad. Many in the West paint all of Islam with the same wide brush. But Ayaan Hirsi Ali identifies three populations of Muslims, one that is small, radical and potentially violent, a second much larger group that is quite willing to peacefully co-exist with the West, and a third small group that actively pursues liberal reform. Much of our military approach so far has been inadequate or ineffective in addressing these fundamental conflicts. I hope I present some options for moving forward in these areas.
5. You include material about Christianity and your own Catholicism. Why?
Yes, if speaking about Islam, it’s only fair to address other religions and religion in general as well. Also, spirituality; the Army recognizes the value and need for spiritual fitness. They aren’t identical, but there is an interplay between religion and spirituality that I wanted to explore.
6. You also write about Transcendental Meditation. Where did TM fit into all this?
TM has utility for resilience, for PTSD, and for spiritual development. At Norwich University, the oldest civilian military academy in the country, TM has improved the resilience of cadets; TM improves moral maturity as measured by the Kohlberg scale. Soldiers and refugees with PTS gain relief of their symptoms after learning TM. Also, I worked in a prison, and it’s good for prisoners. The David Lynch Foundation has been groundbreaking in providing TM for at-risk populations.
7. You include in the book a paper you wrote for the US Army War College… what was that about?
There is a strategic application to an advanced program of TM. There is evidence that group of persons practicing the TM-Sidhi Program can actually decrease violence in targeted populations and locales. This can be an invaluable tool in promoting security and defeating insurgencies. It can play a role in preserving the moral high ground for the United States, as we really should be exhausting all peaceful means to resolving conflicts before resorting to military action. And it has applications for any number of global challenges we face.
8. Have you gotten any reviews yet?
“Rees’s fluid writing keeps the pages turning in this detailed account of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan” -- Foreword Clarion Review
“Powerful reading… thought-provoking and painstakingly researched material” -- Blueink review
“Rees is an immensely engaging writer whose wit and thoughtfulness shine through on every page” -- Kirkus Review
Full reviews available at:

But I can always use more reviews! Feel free to go to your favorite retailer and write a review.

Detained: emails and musings from a spiritual journey through Abu Ghraib, Kandahar, and other garden spots, is available softcover, hardbound, and as an eBook at most online retailers.
9. You allow the reader to select his own price. How do you expect to raise money for vets if you don't charge?
All the profits from this book go to charitable organizations that support veterans, especially those with posttraumatic stress. If someone can't afford to pay much, I hope they'll read the book anyway and be inspired to help veterans, those to whom we as a society are indebted. I'm optimistic; people are good; it'll all work out.
Published 2015-08-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Detained: emails and musings from a spiritual journey through Abu Ghraib, Kandahar, and other garden spots
You set the price! Words: 193,080. Language: English. Published: August 12, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Islamic militancy, Nonfiction » Religion & Spirituality » Catholicism
In five deployments the author described Iraq & Afghanistan in emails home. He served as the doctor to insurgent detainees & at Saddam’s trial. He considers how Christianity, meditation, spirituality & the war of ideas within Islam, may affect our wars, our casualties & other challenges. Per BlueInk Reviews: “…powerful reading… irreverent… thought provoking and painstakingly researched material.”