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tv   Ben Blum Ranger Games  CSPAN  February 19, 2018 7:00pm-8:01pm EST

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going on i read my script word for word and the governor was silent as i read. i finished close my eyes and waiting for the response. my heart pounding. i don't see how it should affect to he said i certainly feel for you but i don't see how it affects you. you are superb official and i don't think it should have any effect on you. stunned, i thanked him. i looked on the photo on my office wall. a self-contained world where ice gave each day for 12 - 14 hours and doing good within italian --
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a world of my own sealed off of my family which no one could take away from me. >> you can watch this on here's a look at some books being published this week, you law school professor examines how parties impact our political system and political tribes. the common good their gear for the need to restore the idea of the common good. facebook cofounder argues the 1% -- was better than it works,
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will look at this impacting our globe. also feminist brittany cooper provides analysis of the role of african-american women in eloquent rage. the watergate they recount the history of the hotel including the notorious scandal connected to its name and share stories of its notable residence. subsequently earning a phd at cambridge university. a best-selling author looks at innovation preparing mankind for space exploration in his book, the future of humanity. award-winning journalist reports on the growth of the white nationalist movement. look for the titles and bookstores this week. watch for the authors in the future on book tv, on c-span2.
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none one. >> now the final author talk of the day. it is been long on a robbery committed by his cousin. good afternoon welcome to the final author presentation what i hope has been an eventful day so far you are at the trinity united methodist church. we feel fortunate to have the
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space for the 11th annual book festival. this has been made possible by the generosity of jack and mary. my name is roger smith i have the pleasure of serving as a volunteer and i am delighted with your participation. the book festival is presented by several friends. we would also like to thank our wonderful members and individual donors' contributions have made and continue to make saturday at the book festival of free of public event. 90% of the revenue comes from donors like you. it is a great pleasure to thank you for your support. please allow me to go over some housekeeping details. immediately following the
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presentation our author will be at the book signing venue where he will be glad to talk with you further into sign books you have purchase. a couple of technology reminders, take a moment to make sure your cell phones and other devices are turned off so that we will not have electronic interruptions. if it is your intention to take photographs please make sure your flash is turned off during the question-and-answer portion i ask that you raise your hand if you have a question give one of our ushers a few seconds to get to. it is important that you're holding a microphone otherwise viewers will be unable to hear your question. also is make sure your question
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is a question rather than a statement or story. our author today is here courtesy of the generation ability no wild. ben bloom holds a phd from the university of california berkeley. he was awarded the new york times foundation scholarship. please join me in giving a warm welcome. thank you for having here. i have been strolling around savannah all day with my wife and six-year-old daughter. i think every city should be required to have a nice monument every two blocks.
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more importantly, it's great for hunting pokémon. the portion of ranger games takes place four hours west of here at fort bennett. a very different side of georgia. you might be thinking this is a book about war but it is not actually. the cover does have some soldiers on it but ranger games is about a lot of things on the periphery, it's about family and the way good intentions go wrong and more importantly it's about growing up. it's about the beautiful allusions that propel us to
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follow our dreams in the way that those solutions can crumble when we get older often making space for something richer in real or but sometimes wreaking havoc along the way. ranger games is the true story of my cousin, alex, grew up with in denver, colorado. we were both weird kids growing up, the phd was in computer science. i was a gigantic master. for halloween -- alex was just as weird. he was obsessed with the military from a very young age. fascinated with all things army. he always has his nose.
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in a book but they were the kind that if you stack them up next line would've black hawk down, red badge of courage, any military trauma he could get his teeth into. we started hearing for alex and he was a kid that he wanted to be a soldier when he grow. common dream for young boys but he stuck with it, his freshman year in high school september 11 hid and i think that is the point when his goal started to get more real he enlisted shortly after his 18th birthday, by then his goal was to survive a brutally difficult
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program to make it to the elite special operative ranger regiment. he achieved that shortly after his 19th birthday was posted to fort lewis, washington. four months later he served as a driver and an armed bank robbery he was arrested afterwards and served 16 months in federal prison and after his release he started talking to me about the crime. spent about seven years trying to get to the bottom of how alex had come to be involved in this bizarre crime. the big question i grappled with
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as i went through the process of was how do you support someone who has done something terrible that caused harm to both himself another's. how do you help them reckon with what they have done. i will alternate some readings with conversation about the book i will open with a passage about what alex and i were like growing up in denver. the time where kids alex always had a simple dream, to defend his country and the forces of evil. none of us took this seriously but him. after school he would run off and is camouflage camouflaged te was a booby-traps and high behind cattails to watch joggers
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jump in the up as the ground exploded beneath their feet. there are not many women in the ads just grim men in high-tech year trapping down ropes of helicopters to for getting g unforgettable jungle. bl that you can be, in the army. back then we barely spoke. page seven i become known as the math prodigy. in the field i saw self intersecting manifolds of swallows. i would tell supermarket cashiers how labors were lasers work. i was, i realize completely insufferable. human relations were not my specialty, too complicated.
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the 13 is taking calculus in physics at the university of colorado. the only real, ground i had they between the tattered street hockey nets in his driveway where he would occasionally scurry around my knees. he was five years younger but already abutting start. our fathers have both made their efforts at manley education. alex's father was a assistant coach of the hockey team. he played adult leak with dental first fineness while father was a quarterback coach george washington high school football team downtown. both raced bicycles competitively and pick up street hockey skiing, golf, client and
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pumped inordinate quantities of iron. summers we went camping in the foothills, fishing they stuck earplugs in her ears jam 12 gauge's shotguns against our shoulders and had a squeeze the trigger. it was better with alex and me. even when he was in school reports began filtering the shoveling snow for neighbor coaching and defending classmates against bullies, their tournaments all over the country with the club hockey team and he became more more serious about the army. seems to me he had the basic model a world of attachments and product tie-ins were available to him. his ability for of heroic
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accomplishment. i knew when i published ranger games that some people would take it as an antiwar book. it's really not that either. in talking to alex against the huge appreciation of their bravery, discipline and integrity and deep care that they show each other. my grandfather landed in normandy shortly after vide. although those stories meant more to alex than me i've come to appreciate the warrior eat those that he passed down, the deep bonds of trust and the willingness to keep on going no matter how tough or painful it gets. in the ranger indoctrination
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program he and his buddies endured held together. they had to group up in teams of six and hold telephone poles for 48 hours taking them some brief shifts. that was just two days out of a month long process of extreme physical pain and endurance. after surviving the cut most soldiers quit but alex did not. he began learning what his new job would entail as a cherry private under the guidance of the tabs. high-ranking soldiers who had seen combat. this next passage is about how this folded over into the offsetting.
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the months for transformative, at night and on weekends they ventured into tacoma with new eyes. every door was a potential breach point. every denny's study partitions into lines of fire. civilians like more like another species entirely. cherry private scratched as men and women with giant proofs of hair puzzled over menus like their children's mouths, one night alex and his buddies went out to see the new x-men movie all they could talk about lined up in the dark among teenagers who had no idea there surrounded by rangers is how simple it would be to take down the theater. they'll try to outdo each other which was almost identical to that of the hangar.
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three exits, red zone, and interiors base with sheep to hurt, piece of cake. talk of hitting spots was a good way to show -- whenever they watched ice movies they laughed at how much better they could do the job themselves. tabs are fluid but the sharper of the privates were really picking it up. in this there are likely to enjoy the special mentorship. even after his replacement as blondes team leader, the specialist popped in once in a while as he broke down in 16 or shined boots tasking for a ride. he was friendlier to the privates taking more than a few out to facilities problem seem to be a favorite of his.
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summit that the use of it was cool mcclement the transporter after one of his movies where they want criminal aaronson and audi. he tried to hide his nervousness no matter where summer wanted to go, supermarket, pawnshop, he made a little lesson out of it. mercer intel, side door by the booth, red zones, by the counter in the kitchen behind that softserve thing, you forgot the bathroom, bank, you are dead all of us were flabbergasted by alex's arrest. the first question was why, where did this come from.
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gradually the story began to filter out alex's father cannot visit him for the first few weeks finally he got into talk to him and apparently alex had believed the plans for the bank robbery were just one more of his games. the training exercise that suddenly got real. some further reports began filtering out us strange stuff going on and it seemed like he was in a weird state that we cannot quite wrap our minds around. later he told us after his arrest he had been waiting every day for representative to appear and tell him there have been a giant mixup. it had been a training exercise
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and they're going to send him to iraq to be with his unit where he belonged. when i began talking about the crime he seems so fragile and adamant so searching to convey the truth to what has happened. i thought it was my job is his friend and cousin to support him. the more research i did more evidence i found that suggested things were a bit more complicated. was in the thick of the family tension that i started to get to the truth that the social psychologist most famous stanford prison experience called alex up and asked him to appear in a special episode of the doctor phil show titled when good people do bad things.
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the next passage i went to read was from a taping in the studio audience. by the time of the taping i was a nervous wreck i had a feeling he may be lying alex was so confused the real story wasn't accessible if it existed in the first place. doctor phil's big catchphrases get real, get real about your problems and are so terrified that he was going to call bs on alex and tell him to get real about this crazy story in front of 3 million americans at this moment when i was supposed to support him and get at the truth
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so this is from that moment i got to alex's segment. >> lights, action. doctor phil admitted another gorgeous clapping count texting grammar. since is that send us off to the horizon. now i have a world-famous psychologist doctor phillips and bardo is here today were discussing his book, the lucifer effect. understanding how good people turn evil. me tell you something. you need to read this book and you need to read it twice than you need to give it your kids. and bardo chuckled alex was sitting stiffly in his chair, one shoulder higher than the other eyes alternating between mcgraw and the audience.
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it really is very insightful today were talking about when good people do bad things. rule number one in the military but i want you to look when one former ranger said he thought he was following routine orders. they turned in their chairs to look at the screen at the back of the stage in place of the doctor phil local an 8-foot tall alex stood in his bedroom had bowed, the drumbeat started up almost at once. it follows was a short series of edited sentences use of which i had heard not one which was individually untrue so the only possible unifying with some bizarre military dilution that none of us could comprehend.
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the music finished and there is a pause. okay said doctor phil with a sigh. healing ford in his chair and scrutinized alex having not been in the situation all of us are saying wait, what? alex went through his full-body fidget so what you're telling me for continued spreading out all ten of his fingers a motion shooting electricity from his fingertips is that you did not know he began flapping his clenched fist that you are involved in an armed robbery of a bank?
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alex losses job. he became better and instead i found myself turning to luke elliott summer. a very intelligent and charismatic i who committed other crimes including stabbing a co- contributor and tried to put a hit out on the prosecutor i ended up developing summer admitted directly to me that
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morality had always been a mystery to him. paradoxically alex has such a hard time think anything was run wonder if it had something to do with some on process guilt this is a passage i managed to secure from summer at a rural area in kentucky sitting in this dismal visitation room. >> as my time with elliott loan
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down we talked briefly about the additional sentences he received for his final two sentences. stabbing and trying to put a hit out on the prosecutor he corrected me about my understanding that he received ten years each. that's just what was structured. is really to 20 year sentences which he was serving concurrently. i asked why the authorities were willing to do them. >> i think the prosecutor finally realized some bat insane but he sent me to prison anyway. that still got me hot. the last phrase it dropped into a voice so cartoonish that it can help it interpreted as playful like a 10-year-old threatening to blow up a school. he sounded the way of yours
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before when illustrating his family he painted a vivid scene of killing everyone in the room. as we waited for the manager i looked at a few notes. elliott asked me i was planning to represent him in the book. world-famous psychopath he offered grading. >> i don't know about that i must wish i could be a dillinger type character a rough think robert type. then he switched to his last corny singsong voice rolling his eyes up to the ceiling that reminded me of the intimate amount of chucky cheese. the guards fell in aware escorted out to the empty visitation room. the rough texture of cinderblock
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showing through the faces elliott pointed out the small marks where he had been permitted to stand and kiss mandy where their previous the app. the only intimacy he would be allowed with her by the next 37 years. i asked if this was permitted only after they told me it wasn't. elliott was being led to the secure door at the far side carrying on a one-sided conversation with the guards on then the concrete vault just swallowed him and he was gone. i am a civilian and i had no experience talking to military folks before he started researching the story.
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we have been taught to interpret the experience of soldiers to the length of trauma increasingly in the last ten years. an unspoken code prohibits us from questioning too deeply into what they had to do on the battlefield. but he challenge that lens for me. he claimed that his experience abroad had been appalled for the robbery. when he fled to canada when he was born he claimed he had stage the whole thing to gain a platform to combat war crimes. he claimed to have evidence that he was withholding and it never materialize. when i started talking with him he was still very adamant that have been his motivation but what i went through his google search history that they recovered from his desktop i
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found no political no protest literature just a lot of guns, poor and gleeful speculation about what to do with the money. here in that cavalier way they may realize that what holding someone accountable means sometimes rejecting their own account. memory is notoriously unreliable when it comes to what you don't want to remember. it shifts around to edit out our transgressions. the more i research the story the more i began to see the voice that has to be given moral authority is not the voice of that does it. alex had his count of events but ultimately the story belongs to the people in the bank that went
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through the terrible experience one of those people began talking to me about four years ago her names is jessica she was a 19-year-old teller in the bank at that day. she was the lead teller that day. she is extraordinarily generous with her time and extraordinarily forgiving toward alex. so the portion of the book that shows what happened on that day depends heavily on her account i will read a passage from that now. but 3 inches of plexiglass cannot stop is a teller sphere. among fbi agents that work bank
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cases mistrust of the bandit barrier is the subject. i first heard it from a 20 year veteran in the field office. the teller just shovels money underneath i think it was my first supervisor toby anything who can contribute bandit barriers -- tsunami to shovel money underneath. she had been instructed by the modern bank robbery was the was a widescreen action movie. she knew where to find the silent alarm button talk to any see release that would make the movie stop.
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it seems strange that in this branch there is a narrow gap between the plexiglas and ceiling. at 51553 seconds a man in a ski mask read through the entrance, planted 1 foot on the countertop left for the barriers. the cry was more of a surprise that of terror quickly modulated down to an air seal. leadership said everybody who had been so friendly and welcoming to hers that she figured this was an initiation prank. this was her first day. it was only later that she looked at the others that telescope panic. they'll stampede it toward jessen virginia zen.
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just dove under the last desk and struck her shoulder blade heart on the safe and she went down. heather and jessica number two dog piled on top of them. is this a true shoe member? do they test us on this? just had to suppress a wild giggle. i think this is extreme. this is a drill, i'm quitting. u.s. army field manual 9101, it describes the army room clearing procedure. flash beggar fragmentation grenade followed by a four-man preaching team. while they moved towards their points of domination they engaged all targets because the
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soldiers are moving in shooting at the same time they must move using careful hurry. they don't rush with total disregard obstacles include a promotional display for mortgages with the gable roof standing in the middle of the lobby. flat leg and table and a raid of polyester belt the four men in ski mask now preaching had been dissuaded by grenades who had assured summer that even if he was crazy enough to do this thing a flash bang was completely insane. but they did move toward points of domination.
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chad with this fully automatic it if ak-47. nathan with the rear door in another ak-47 in a duffel bag full of spare clubs according to a conventional tactical breakdown the bandit barrier was not an obstacle. was architecture dividing the lobby into. the only entrance was a locked reinforcer at the end. after breaching at this point fm 9101 indicated a two by two leapfrog infantrymen were not supposed to clear the space without manpower. for rangers regular infantry field manuals lead the way they
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agreed to graduates. blind to the way in which axioms might been. man his body was twisting sideways one gloved hand to for purchase, the other holding a 9 millimeters glock 19 was specialist with kelly in summer. jeff was flat on the back made the smell of carpet computer -wise under virginia's desk cap feeling that same urge to giggle. the trappings of a new professional life loomed at unreachable heights. chores, office supplies fluorescent lights someone's legs lay across her chest the breath of the teller she was
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supervising came past all around her. seconds pulled out like taffy. the lobby rang with cries, shouts, and that allowed metallic bay which sparked if flurry of desperate looks than a consensus that there is no way that have been a good shot. fridge caught just as i nod toward the silent alarm button. just stared at it, all should have to do is pull her arm up return across the space extender finger up and apparent giant legs turn the corner into the station. the pile compressed with the gas. a man in a bulky gray sweatshirt and ski mask crouched on to stare at them. his eyes were blue and they seem to go through the eyeholes. laser light spike from the barrel of the gun in his right
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hand dancing through their torsos and limbs. the image of herself with her arm outstretched toward the button reverberated that she could barely think that she had almost done it. get up he said. nobody moved. i said, get up. one by one they scrambled their feet. the man was large and muscular. as he made the bead dart over the fabric of the bear arms in short sleeves to positive chess and turn his voice when personable. he explained he wanted his camera shoulder bag filled with 50s and 100's. note ipaqs, no serialize bills. chess is not familiar with these concepts and wondered where he led them. he sounded like a guy her age, he felt she felt sure she knew him.
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had he come in before? time he called out for the lobby. thirty seconds shouted another one. if this one is a poll in one minute you are all going to get wasted. he emphasized the point with his gun. now it was real. unreality is a big theme in this book. the unreality of civilians who mostly sit through big-budget action movies or video games were the reality is given an unrealistic life. the unreality of war to soldiers in training who go through such detailed simulation of battlefield conditions at the distinguish between rehearsal and the show starts to blur.
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the unreality of reality television which gives us an unfiltered glimpse of human trauma : stories are carefully constructed. there's the reality of luke elliott summer was masterful and playing in that dangerous space of games and jokes and banter. he slowly brought many of the soldiers in the scheme integrator contact with the reality of his plans then the unreality of what alex went through and never fully processed. have come to see that is a big part of what keeps trauma a live inside of us. a disengagement from the reality of what we have gone through. the reality is too painful to
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process. and all those years i spent a lot of time thinking about trauma. nowadays we have a richer understanding than what we use to sell and they do horrible things to others and come back and suffer from it there given a diagnosis of ptsd. but it's gradually starting to be recognized at the virginia that some soldiers are suffering from something different that requires a different treatment. the term is moral injury. you suffer moral injury when you witness or become complicit in a violation of your morals.
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they're participating in a bank robbery that you never wanted to be a part of. i find it fascinating in the progression of therapeutic moments. they have not been in the business of helping their clients atone from their sin. that's basically what the framework is making space for. i'm glad for the increasing awareness today about trauma in some ways moral injury is more important to understand. it is tricky, helping your loved ones deal with your trauma. how do you tell someone you care for someone who is hurting and the tech from all sides think if
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you can do that lovingly, compassionately it took me a long time to come to that place and feeling of alex's involvement. but i did in the end confront him with all the evidence that call parts of the story into question. i got very personal and direct with him. it was one of the scariest things i've ever done. the results were startling and transformational for him and me. that's the place it ends which means i can't tell you how it
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went because i don't want to give it all away. come through this process with a renewed hope when the possibility for healing and families willing to grapple with some of these dark stories nobody wants to talk about if they really stick with it. think you for being here. i like to answer any questions you may have. >> i fear i mispronounced her last name, that's breaking world number one and the author host roebuck. >> it's no trouble. it's a common mistake.
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>> the issue of families and participants dealing with this notion of moral injury think i was a bank robbery and not something else but how do you think, is there any support within the service and within the virginia for people who support the virginia in the military we do live in an area where there's a lot of people, do you think there is any support or new support? >> there are some very encouraging steps. the virginia has a pilot program that started a few years ago that has seen some promising early results with a different treatment methodology for moral injury which involves finding
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reasonable restitution for the soldiers and their few programs out there that bring together both iraqis and afghan aides who have lost family members would conflict and soldier members may not know the impact they had some of the connections can be very powerful. >> what are the names of those programs? >> i don't have those on the tip of my tongue. i'm sorry to make you think the family members including yourself understand that so they're going to be dealing with? >> not yet. i think we've seen a lot of trauma stories. in part because the failure to distinguish between trauma and moral injury was a problematic narrative for soldiers coming back and tried to reintegrate
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into society and get jobs and feel accepted by their communities i think there's stigma around ptsd. we see new stories about soldiers flipping out in committing crimes on base are broad. that's been very damaging and unproductive. i love to see more support services for families don't think there's enough. >> how is your cousin doing today and what is he doing? >> he's doing amazingly well. the secret was eating him up for years.
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he didn't even think of it as a secret. is just clenched so tight around the version of his story that he thought exonerated him and showed his true character. and he retreated further and further from friends and family the harder he helped that. it was surprisingly confronting him lead to a dramatic reconciliation with family and he stopped drinking he started training in jujitsu. he has good job now he has a pimple name pickles that he does on with the level of affection that would kill a smaller dog probably. he and i have become very close. the publication of the book was very scary for him.
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he and i appeared together at a book event in colorado which a number of our family members were in attendance. there's a very intense back and forth with the audience the most hard-core question-and-answer session i think i've ever seen at a book event. but it went really well. >> this is such a personal event for you to go through this and write this book, as an author, where do you go from here? >> hopefully no more bank robberies by close family members. alex occasionally offers up stuck in my career to go robert another one if i really need them to. i come from a science background and i love science.
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i have gotten very interested in trauma in psychology and therapy. my next book is about what you're talking about, some state-of-the-art ways for close families to heal each other from their trauma to grow together and to hold each other accountable when appropriate to pass some of these things that stick with us for years. >> are you familiar with the fear group out of fort stewart. started off with active-duty soldiers went from guides stuff to apply to overthrow the u.s. government is forever enduring, always ready is one of them testified in court they couldn't leave her got out of hands, to the point they killed the
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co-conspirator and his girlfriend in an effort to tie up loose ends. so start out shooting in the woods at night and got out of control. i didn't know if you're familiar with that. >> i'm not familiar. >> what you're was that? >> 2012 called the fear group. >> i will look into that. it's incredible the way the small group dynamics can evolve beyond the control of anyone in the group, especially in these elite warrior cultures where there's a huge taboo against backing down. if one guy jokes about taking on someone else and you joke about taking on a casino and killing
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everyone. if you can't rise to that level of banter than you showing yourself is weak. it's hard to back down once you started along that path any other questions? >> you mention your relationship with alex is healed is that true with everyone in your family particularly his father if he still with us? >> he is still with us. norm is very much still kicking in doing this 200 push-ups each morning. the family has been incredibly supportive. i began this book in 2008, with the idea of clearing alex's name. it just felt it was so unjust he
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was going to spend his life as a convicted violent felon having been tricked into robbing the bank while pursuing what he thought was extracurricular training that would help him on deployment. so the family was behind that. we're all trying to help them out. then came the really complicated years when my story started going out of alignment with the families. those were difficult times, yet at the same time there is an amazing amount of tolerance for me to keep pursuing this. i think partly because i was alex's closest friend. and it was clear that he needed that much work through them with
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it. i was worried about publishing the book but the things that end up pissing people off in the book are not what you expect. is one you would everybody was good think about how a pretrade alex and will they hate the fact that i quoted their corny jokes nope, totally fine with everything except for what i wrote about my grandfather, world war ii veteran who had inspired alex to enlist and was a source of so much work mythology that we grew up on. i discovered his war memoir in the course of researching the book. i learned through reading that
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that a lot what he had gone through broad was much darker, i think this is a common experience for families. that began to make clear that this legacy of trauma and moral injury much more trauma for him have played a significant role in making alex susceptible to the informants they brought them under. that deep reckoning with history of trauma and moral injury and going back through several wars is something her family still processing to the state. [applause] >> i want to remind everyone that ben will be sending copies of his book. we thank him for an incredibly
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compelling story thank you for being here this afternoon to forget the receptacles are there for your dollar so that future events we can keep saturday free. thank you don't want. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] [inaudible] >> that wraps up activities live coverage of this year's savannah book festival. . .


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