To Whom It May Concern
I am a retired psychologist. I lived in Roseburg, OR from 1973 to 1985, working initially as a psychology intern and then as a staff psychologist in the psychiatric unit at the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) there. I recently had the privilege of reading Roland Cheek's new historical novel reflecting some rather extraordinary events that occurred in and around the VAMC approximately 20 years earlier. These colorful events have achieved legendary status in the memories of Roseburg old-timers. They are well documented in Roseburg News Review articles.
I found The Dogged and the Damned to be coherent, and well organized. It is a truly compelling read, the kind you find yourself thinking about and eager to continue. The descriptions of the hospital and the surrounding forests in which it occurred are accurate enough to stir fond memories. Even though the events in the book are disturbing, Cheek's literary style does not discourage the reader.
The book is about the timeless effects of war on a soldier. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were recorded in 490 BCE by Herodotus in his descriptions of the battle of Marathon. The United States is at war again. This present-day social relevance will pique interest among contemporary readers. To me, it seems to have movie potential.
Yours truly, Ray T. Moore, PhD / Nelson, BC, Canada
what people are saying:
Dear Roland Cheek,
I was fascinated to read a passage in your latest book about the soldier aboard the King John as it chugged around Cape Nelson, engaing in a conversation with a reporter from New York Times. That reporter was in fact my father, Barney Darnton, who as you undoubtedly know was killed during the bombing raid later that day. By what is certainly a non-coincidence, I (who was 11 months old at the time of this death) followed in his footsteps, also becoming a foreign correspondent for The Times. I'm now semi-retired, after 44 years at the paper, having recently written a number of novels. My latest, which I've finished, is a family memoir -- basically a search for my father, and to do it, I uncovered a number of documents and eye-witness accounts about the
bombing of the two ships and traveled to New Guinea to visit the village close to where it happened. I found two elderly men there, one of whom recounted his memories of what happened that day more than 60 years earlier. My memoir is to be published by Knopf.
Another researcher, named Ed Rogers, who is writing a book about 3rd bomber group, noticed your book and sent me the excerpt. needless to say, I'm eager to reach the whole book and will order it as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, thanks for putting the experiences of those poor souls aboard the ships, and later fighting in the fetid swamps around Buna, into novelized form.
Sincerely, John Darnton
Your most recent book, Dogged and the Damned, was terrific. I couldn't put it down and in fact read it twice. At times I felt as though I was in that poor chap's 'body'. Great story and well written. [email from Bill Hull]
I did receive my DAMNED AND DOGGED, and it was wonderful, a home run that I could not put down! It was one of those deals where I read all night and had to cancel some pre-Christmas plans I'd made! Once again, Roland, thank you for sharing yourself and your work. [email from Phyllis Hamond]
Let's call Clint Eastwood and send him a copy of The Dogged and the Damned and I'll bet he would buy it. [letter from Bob Williams / Murphysboro, IL]
I just finished The Dogged and the Damned. What a captivating story, and the writing style was awesome! I really enjoyed your personal touches, such as the wild flower references. You have come a long way over some very rough trails. [email from Mike Postl]
. . . it is apparent . . . you only wrote it [The Dogged and the Damned] after a lot of research into mental illnesses and treament . . . it resulted in a syntax unlike your usual writing and is probably explained by your careful choices of wording on such an unusual subject. In any case, you did a great job of leading the reader into and through the psychiatric world. [email from Bob Wylie]
I read your book [The Dogged and the Damned] . . . it's outstanding! I'll push for a book review in some of my publications. [card from Sue Hansen / Corvallis, OR]
OK, I hurried home from a great Bible study this afternoon, fixed myself a hot cup of coffee, hurried into the study with my copy of The Dogged & The Damned and got comfortable in my lazy boy. I had the last 3 chapters to read.... I'm exhausted from all the hardships that Mikhail faces and overcomes, time after time, after time. I forgot the coffee and finished the most marvelous book I've read recently. The mystery to me is how do you conjure up all the details? Thank you for persevering and getting it in print. [email from Genevieve DeBrecht]
You did a fantastic job with a great story that I had almost forgotten . . . a story that is also relevant today, with a number of this country's finest coming home with similar problems. [email from Roseburg classmate, Michael Wooten]
.. . . seemed to be so realistic that I felt the author had to have been an eyewitness to the bad battle scenes and also to the runaway episodes the man experienced. I shouldn't be that surprised, I guess, since you did quite well in letting me know how a chocolate legged bear thinks while she is on the run. [email from another high school classmate, Roberta Welsh]
. . . In any case Amigo it was a hell of a story!!! Got your next one started yet? [email from yet another classmate, Larry Gill]
Best thing [The Dogged and the Damned] you've written! Probably the most moving book I've ever read. Brought back a lot of feelings of long ago, long buried . . . Enclosed is check. I need 4 more copies. [letter from Alex Tully / Reklaw, TX]
This novel is based on fact – names and places have been changed or altered; However, the author knew a person and, or persons that are very like the characters that appear in this book.
Private Mikhail Baranovitch enlisted in the 128th Regiment of the 32nd Infantry Division. It was WWII – he was 19, and he was sent to the Pacific theater of war. His heroism and ability to survive is described in detail – the good and bad officers he served under create quite a picture of how it was.
We meet Mikhail in a United States Veterans Hospital in Roseburg, Oregon. He is being treated there for what was then called Battle Fatigue and is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is being interviewed about his experiences in his war by a psychiatrist, Dr. Henderson.
There are many interviews in this book that tell us of Mikhail’s unbelievable battle experiences. He won the Purple heart, Bronze and Silver Star medals, which he dismisses as “doing what you had to do”.
The staff at the hospital is understanding, kind and helpful. The psychiatrists are wise, thoughtful and resourceful – the one bad one that appears is finally sent packing through the dedicated and ingenious efforts of the staff. One kind doctor is posted to Korea, another dies of injuries from his own war and finally Mikhail is on the run again – a fugitive the media call a “Wild Man”. Mikhail knows how to live off the land, but it becomes more difficult as time goes by.
Our newspapers and magazines frequently discuss and review post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that many combat veterans face, sometimes for many years after returning from war. World War II made it just as prevalent and just as debilitating as it is today, but then it was even less understood and simply called battle fatigue.
Montana writer Roland Cheek has crafted "The Dogged and the Damned" about PTSD, a WWII war-hero veteran of battles in the South Pacific, and his life following the war. It is a hard-to-put-down, compelling story that will likely bring tears to your eyes as he struggles to return to mental normalcy.
Cheek is known to thousands for years of syndicated columns and radio shows he produced from his home in Whitefish. His education came from "God's own University of Wild Places and Wilder Things." The Bob Marshall Wilderness and similar places were his stomping grounds. A saddle horse and a pack string with a tent and campfire were his home and companions on many nights in the wild country that provided the grist for his writing mill and honed his ability to put words to paper. It has been my good fortune to know Roland Cheek for a number of years ... and my misfortune not to have spent time with him in the Montana backcountry.
I read avidly many of Cheek's earlier books pertaining to wildlife, but in this latest, his words grabbed and held me. Cheek creates an unforgettable book by combining his ability to relate this hero's struggle to return to society with Cheek's knowledge of the region where the events take place.
Cheek was raised not far from the U.S. Veteran's Hospital in Roseburg, Oregon. He was a teenager when the story unfurled and his memories of those newspaper accounts brought him full circle to write this book.
The Dogged and the Damned, by Roland Cheek, published by Skyline Publishing
Roland Cheek is a Montana writer. His book, "The Dogged and the Damned" is a novel based on actual events. It tells the story of Michael [Baranovitch], a Butte High School football star and decorated soldier hospitalized in a VA mental hospital in Roseburg, Oregon in the years following WWII. Michael is haunted by memories of the Pacific islands where he fought. In today's terminology, he has PTSD.
In this book, Mikhail grew up in Butte, Montana and his father was a miner. During his interviews during treatment we also hear about growing up in Butte. Without any advantages, we see him become an all-state football player in Butte High School, with a B+ average scholastically.
We meet many kind, knowledgable and intelligent people in this narration. It is remarkable to see how several of them come together in the end to outwit the politicians, Sheriff Finch and the other powers that be in defense of this amazing man and soldier.
Roland Cheek is a talented writer and has written a story with a message. This is a story worth reading, because it paints a picture that showcases “a man driven beyond his depths by the horrors of war.”
One final note from Ray Moore, a psychologist who served in the very hospital used as a setting for this story. Dr Moore went on to say, “Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders were recorded in 490 BCE by Herodotus in his descriptions of the battles of “Marathon”.
I can promise the author I will be recommending this book to my personal book loving friends from coast to coast and giving it as a gift as well.
Published: Skyline Publishing
P.O. Box 1118
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Copyright: © 2009 by Roland Cheek
Reviewed: 02/15/10 – 296
Copyright: © 2010 by Joan G. Smith
Surprisingly, similar events occurred near this location, which caused Ken Kesey to write "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in the same period. Cheek's story is true although some names, places, and times have been altered. Cheek also comments that if the main character, Mikhail Baranovitch, is portrayed in a more heroic fashion than he actually was, it's because that is the way Cheek saw him as a teenager when newspaper stories told of Baranovitch's exploits.
Baranovitch was a football star in Butte, an all-state lineman destined for bigger accomplishments in college when problems erupted aty home, World War II started, and he enlisted in the Army. The accounts of his action in New Guinea and elsewhere will mesmerize the reader with his daring. His ability to relate those accounts come only years after the war ended while he is locked away in the Roseburg hospital. Months pass with little progress toward release as psychiatrists attempt to help him overcome the mental blocks that prevent him from facing and talking of those military actions.
Escape and life alone in the mountains of western Oregon seem to be his only hope. It is during this time that newspapers ran frequent accounts of the "Wild Man of the Umpqua." It is also a section of the book that few writers could so accurately portray. Cheek's long years of hunting and horse backing through Montana's backcountry provided the knowledge to describe so correctly and poignantly that period and that lifestyle. To say more would steal from the readers' discovery and emotion as they read the book.
It was a chance encounter in Whitefish with retired psychologist Dr. Ray Moore that prompted Cheek to publish "The Dogged and the Damned." Dr. Moore did his internship and residency at the Veteran's Hospital in Roseburg.
Dr. Moore made the following observations after reading the final version. "It is truly a compelling read. The book is about the timeless effects of war on a soldier. This present-day social relevance will pique interest among contemporary readers. To me, it seems to have movie potential."
To preview the book, read reviews, and even read the first chapter, visit www.rolandcheek.com.
Michael eventually walks away from the hospital and starts to live off the land, including breaking into seasonal homes, causing a widespread panic and a manhunt by a local sheriff. It's a fascinating tale of recovery and setbacks, along with woods lore.
The author grew up in the Roseburg area at the time of the actual events and was even once jailed by the same sheriff who pursued Michael.
1st chapter excerpt
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