The Untold Story of Surviving Peace

Matthew Green

Published: 1 October 2015
Hardback, Royal HB
156x234mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781846273292

Other Editions


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Published: 7 July 2016
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781846273315

Ebook Available


Over the last decade, we have sent thousands of people to fight on our behalf. But what happens when these soldiers come back home, having lost their friends and killed their enemies, having seen and done things that have no place in civilian life? In Aftershock, Matthew Green tells the story of our veterans' journey from the frontline of combat to the reality of return.

Through wide-ranging interviews with former combatants - including a Royal Marine sniper and a veteran operator in the SAS - as well as serving personnel and their families, physicians, therapists and psychiatrists, Aftershock looks beyond the labels of shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to get to the heart of today's post-conflict experience. It pursues the question that the military are so reluctant to ask: why do people who are trained to thrive within the theatre of war so often find themselves ill-prepared for peace?

As a new generation of battle-scarred troops begins to lay their weapons down, Aftershock offers an empathetic yet hard-hitting account of the hidden cost of conflict. And its message is one that has profound implications, not just for the military, but for anyone with an interest in how we experience trauma and survive.

About the author

Image of Matthew Green

MATTHEW GREEN has spent the past 14 years working as a correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters and has reported from more than 30 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. After studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, he began his career with Reuters, working in east and west Africa and in Iraq, where he was embedded with US Marines during the invasion in 2003. He later joined the Financial Times, working in Nigeria and then Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he spent time with US forces deployed to Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the Obama administration's troop surge. Green is now based in London and appears regularly as a commentator on the BBC News Channel and World Service radio, and writes for publications including Monocle magazine and the Literary Review. His first book was The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Joseph Kony, which won a Jerwood Award from the Royal Society of Literature and was long-listed for the Orwell Prize. More about the author


‘[An] outstanding study of the psychological wounds affecting British military personnel adapting to life at home after serving in the country's most recent wars’



‘A considerate and meaningful look at the lives of soldiers after they return from the horrors of war’

‘A moving and illuminating book [that] reports on the lives, struggles and triumphs of returned combat veterans and their families’ Bryan Doerries, author

‘A thought-provoking enquiry into PTSD. It contains important insights into a problem that is rarely covered in any but the most superficial way. I highly recommend it’ Adrian Weale

‘A thoughtful, unsensational account of a significant problem’ Max Hastings

‘An urgent manifesto... [Green's] book sharply exposes the faults in the current system... The stories Green has collected are so powerful because they are some of the only means we have of measuring the true scale of PTSD in Britain’ Joe Shute

‘Compelling and instructive... [This is] a work of integrity and substance, and as so much of it touches on interdepartmental matters it ought to be read by every minister’ Allan Mallinson

‘Compelling, humbling and hugely inspiring accounts from the real heroes of our era. We have a duty to understand what these men have given on our behalf’ Bear Grylls

‘Green has documented the hidden cost of modern war in a way no other author has ever even attempted. Intelligent, sensitive, courageous and tenacious, he has spent two years listening to the harrowing stories of former soldiers struggling to cope with PTSD - and hearing how the military and medical establishment have, for the most part, failed them. The MoD should hang their heads in shame if this book does not become required reading at every staff college. Aftershock hasn't come a moment too soon’ James Fergusson, author

‘Green tells the uncomfortable story of our veterans' journey from the frontline of combat to the reality of return brilliantly via first-person accounts and interviews with former combatants and their families, military experts, physicians and psychologists’

‘I've never come across something that really tells the truth about war in this way... An amazing book’ Sharmaine Lovegrove

‘If we expect our lives and freedoms to be protected we have a duty to those who do this. As a society, as people, surely we must take responsibility for the bodies, minds, and indeed souls of those who fight for us? Aftershock makes this point again and again, powerfully and compellingly’ Justine Hardy, trauma therapist, author

‘Intelligently written and agreeably unsensational... One of the many strengths of this nuanced book is the sympathy and compassion [Green] brings to the experiences of soldiers... [A] revealing and thought-provoking study’ Trevor Royle

‘This is a most compelling book which tells the story of those who have suffered so much in the conduct of operation to protect our security. Mental health pressures need to move centre stage in our priorities - now!’ Sir Richard Dannatt, former General Chief of Staff

‘Unsentimental but horribly affecting... mixing journalistic rigour with historical investigation [and written] in prose thrilling enough for a bestselling novel’ Alexander Larman

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