After serving two tours of duty in Iraq, another in Saudi Arabia and dealing with the monumental daily pressures of commanding two bomb disposal units, Brian Castner came back to the United States a changed man. His often harrowing experiences in Iraq and his struggles to readjust to the rhythms of civilian life are set down in Castner's book "The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows," released this week from Doubleday.

In an excerpt of the book's first chapter, posted on, Castner writes: "I run every day, twice a day sometimes, out the front door of my peaceful suburban home, past sticky blast scenes of sewage, and motor oil, and bloody swamps of trash and debris, ankle deep, filling the road, sidewalks, shop and house doorsteps. I run through dust clouds, blown in off the desert or kicked up by the helo rotor wash. I run past the screaming women that never shut up, don't shut up now. I should have made them stop when I had a chance. I run as fast as I can, as long as I can, my feet hitting the pavement in a furious rhythm, along the river near my home."

Following a well-received interview on the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air" that aired Monday and some positive early reviews, Castner will give a reading in Talking Leaves Books (3158 Main St.) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. For more information, call 837-8554 or visit

-- Colin Dabkowski