From political wunderkind and former army intelligence officer Jason Kander comes a haunting, powerful memoir about impossible choices—and how sometimes walking away from the chance of a lifetime can be the greatest decision of all.
In 2017, President Obama, in his final Oval Office interview, was asked who gave him hope for the future of the country, and Jason Kander was the first name he mentioned. Suddenly, Jason was a national figure. As observers assumed he was preparing a run for the presidency, Jason announced a bid for mayor of Kansas City instead and was headed for a landslide victory. But after eleven years battling PTSD from his service in Afghanistan, Jason was seized by depression and suicidal thoughts. He dropped out of the mayor’s race and out of public life. And finally, he sought help.
In this brutally honest second memoir, following his New York Times best-selling debut Outside the Wire, Jason Kander has written the book he himself needed in the most painful moments of his PTSD. In candid, in-the-moment detail, we see him struggle with undiagnosed illness during a presidential bid; witness his family buoy him through challenging treatment; and, giving hope to so many of us, see him heal.
I’ve known about Jason since before I had even decided to learn about American politics because Missouri was the first state I lived in the US, but I don’t recollect how I actually got introduced to him. So it’s been many years of watching his interviews, following his journey on social media, donating to Let America Vote, cheering him both during a prospective national campaign and the run for Kansas City mayor, and later wishing him all the best in his healing process from ptsd. I had also loved his previous book Outside the Wire, so there was no question that I was gonna read this one. I was very excited when I got the advance copy but I waited till I could buy the audiobook because I definitely wanted to hear it all in his own voice. And I’m glad I waited.
This is not an easy book to get through because the struggles both Jason and Diana go through are brutal but Jason keeps it honest and funny. I can never understand the kind of life he has lived or the kind of drive he has had to do something better for the world, but there are still tiny parts of his issues that resonated with me because I’ve had those days myself and it’s validating to know that I’m not alone in this. And which is why I think this is a very important book because there are too many people these days with mental health issues and while many know that it’s okay to seek help, it’s not easy to do it and there’s always something that’s stopping us, and listening to someone prolific like Jason share his process of healing from his trauma is very eye opening and helpful and I hope it’ll help not just veterans who are suffering from ptsd, but anyone who has issues. I also really appreciated getting Diana’s perspective because I didn’t know anything about secondary ptsd and I think it’s something that everyone should know more about, especially if you have family members who are struggling.
The book also raises rightful concerns about the conditions of service members after they return from combat and how nothing is done to make them get out of the intense survival mode and acclimate to civilian life. I’m deeply appreciative of Jason’s work with VCP and I hope his dream of working towards zero veteran homelessness comes true. And whether he runs for office again or not, I’m excited to follow all the work that he is doing with his nonprofit, podcast and as a party leader at 40. Hopefully he’ll also write more books because he is an inspiring progressive leader and his voice is much needed in an ever depressing world.