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9780735278301

Some Kind of Hero Love, Death and Trauma in a Nova Scotia Town

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780735278301

  • ISBN10:

    073527830X

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2021-10-19
  • Publisher: Random House Canada
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Summary

A deeply personal investigation into an African-Nova Scotian soldier who came home from Afghanistan a changed man, and made national news with a murder-suicide that raises nuanced and difficult questions about moral responsibility, domestic violence and the overlooked costs of war.

What is the legacy of a fallen soldier who takes his family with him? This is the problem posed by the story of Lionel Desmond. He grew up around Lincolnville, Nova Scotia, one of the province's old, Black communities. Raised in a broken home, he sought stability in the military. Instead, he found PTSD and returned from a combat deployment in Afghanistan deeply troubled.

All of this was brought to bear in the reporting that followed the events of January 3, 2017, when Lionel's body was found in the home of his estranged wife, Shanna. Shanna's body was there, too, as were those of their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and Lionel's mother, Brenda, alongside a rifle Lionel had purchased earlier that day. Lionel's family, friends and the veteran community stood up for him, claiming he was a hero who had succumbed to the tortures of PTSD. But an opposing view emerged: that he was a man possessed by anger towards his wife who was, at that time, in the process of leaving him.

The question of whether Lionel was a hero or monster, or whether these terms even begin to capture the moral and factual complexity of the Desmonds' sad fate, requires intimate reporting and knowledge of the family's reality. Having returned from his own deployment to Afghanistan struggling with PTSD, Kirk Johnson, a mixed-race son of Three Mile Plains, a place with much in common with the Desmonds' home, seeks truth and understanding in the wake of tragedy.

Author Biography

KIRK ANGUS JOHNSON is a retired veteran of the Royal Canadian Regiment, with which he deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. A graduate of the King's Non-fiction MFA in Halifax, Kirk was selected as one of five RBC/Charles Taylor Emerging Non-fiction writers.

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