Exit Wounds

One Australian's War On Terror

Greg Bearup, John Cantwell
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Exit Wounds

Exit Wounds

One Australian's War On Terror

Greg Bearup, John Cantwell
'This is my story, but it is also the story of thousands of Australian veterans from Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan and other conflicts who bare similar emotional scars. This is what becomes of those men and women we send off to war, pay little attention to, then forget once they are home.'
As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man's tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy…
As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man's tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.
Australia has been at war for the past twenty years and yet there has been no stand-out account from these conflicts—Exit Wounds is it. Raw, candid and eye-opening, no one who reads this book will be unmoved, nor forget its imagery or words.

About the author

John Cantwell

John Cantwell AO DSC retired from the Australian Army early in 2012 after a career spanning almost forty years. Starting as a private soldier he rose through the ranks to become Major General. Cantwell served in three distinct wars: combat duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991; as the Director of Strategic Operations of the Multi National Forces in Iraq in 2006 (for which he was awarded the United States Legion of Merit); and as the Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East in 2010. For his service in the latter role he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his 'inspired leadership, deep commitment to his people and superior performance on operations'. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1990 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007, in addition to two commendations for superior performance.

In 2009 he was appointed chief of operations of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, a role in which he coordinated all efforts to recover from the deadly Black Saturday fires. Afterwards, the Premier of Victoria characterised Cantwell as 'a hands-on tireless leader and organiser with a remarkable ability to gain the respect and cooperation of disparate groups'. The Prime Minister described Cantwell as 'a leader possessing exceptional skills in coordination, guidance and organisation'.

Since his retirement Major General Cantwell lectures on leadership and military affairs to a variety of defence, business and academic audiences. He is the patron or ambassador for several organisations that support wounded and emotionally damaged Australian veterans. His bestselling book on his experiences in combat and related emotional trauma, Exit Wounds, was shortlisted for the Australian autobiography of the year in 2013.

About John Cantwell

Co-writer Greg Bearup has been a feature writer at the Good Weekend for the past ten years and has twice been awarded a Walkley Award for his writing. Prior to this he worked for the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2004/5 he took leave from his job and lived in Pakistan and filed for various newspapers including the Guardian. He also worked for the UN on various elections and lived in Syria, for the vote of Iraqi refugees, and Bamyan, in the remote mountains of Central Afghanistan. In 2009 he published Adventures in Caravanastan about a trip around Australia in a caravan with his partner and their baby. Reviewer Bruce Elder described it as 'a subtle and ambiguous love letter to Australia in all its glory, craziness and diversity'.

About Greg Bearup

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