During his years as a POW in North Korea, “Doc” Boysen endured hardships he never intended to pass along, especially to his family. Men who refused to eat starved; his children would clean their plates. Men who were weak died; his children would develop character. They would also learn to fear their father, the hero. In a memoir at once harrowing and painfully poignant, Catherine Madison tells the stories of two survivors of one man’s war: a father who withstood a prison camp’s unspeakable inhumanity and a daughter who withstood the residual cruelty that came home with him.
Doc Boysen died fifty years after his ordeal, his POW experience concealed to the end in a hidden cache of documents. In The War Came Home with Him, Madison pieces together the horrible tale these papers told—of a young captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps captured in July 1950, beaten and forced to march without shoes or coat on icy trails through mountains to camps where North Korean and Chinese captors held him for more than three years. As the truth about her father’s past unfolds, Madison returns to a childhood troubled by his secret torment to consider, in a new light, the telling moments in their complex relationship.
Beginning at her father’s deathbed, with all her questions still unspoken, and ending with their final conversation, Madison’s dual memoir offers a powerful, intimate perspective on the suppressed grief and thwarted love that forever alter a family when a wounded soldier brings his war home.
Journalist Catherine Madison was editor-in-chief of Utne Reader, senior editor at Adweek and Creativity Magazine, founding editor of American Advertising, and editor-in-chief of Format Magazine. She has written articles for many publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Star Tribune, and Minnesota Monthly.
"A mesmerizing page-turner. Catherine Madison has written a captivating, beautifully crafted tale of the horrors her father endured as a prisoner of war and her lifelong quest to unravel the mystery of his tortured soul."—Hugh Delehanty, coauthor of Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success
"I loved this book, not only for the knowledge gained concerning a war I knew so little about but for Catherine Madison’s skill in relating both sides of this complex and difficult story. She is truly a reliable narrator, and her interweaving of her father’s ordeal as a prisoner of war with her own growing up in a household with a broken and damaged man is honest and generous and truly moving."—Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People
"A heartfelt account of a family fractured by war and its awful aftereffects."—Kirkus Reviews
"It’s hard to imagine in this time of endless psychological examination that greater consideration was not given in the past to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions affecting returning POWs. Madison’s dual narratives of the injury visited upon, and imposed by, her father raises complex questions of survival and forgiveness, relevant to readers dealing with family traumas themselves."—Library Journal
"Madison chronicles the legacy of a much neglected part of U.S. history while bravely dissecting the enduring bond between an enigmatic father and his curious daughter. [The War Came Home with Him] should be lauded for its unflinching honesty as Madison recalls the harrowing moments in her complicated relationship with her sometimes steady, often volatile father."—Star Tribune
"Compellingly written."—Library Journal
"In this beautifully written dual memoir, Madison smoothly moves between chapters re-creating her father’s terrible imprisonment and her childhood."—St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Madison’s memoir offers a powerful, intimate perspective on what happens to a family when a wounded soldier brings his war home."—kafbnucleus.com
"Madison’s writing is so compelling; I read the entire book in a couple of sittings, not wanting to put it down for even a minute."—Russian Hill Reader
"This skillfully artistic work reads as a novel, lending to its intrigue, as well as shedding light on the consequences of war using primary source accounts from a collection of secret documents found years later."—Military Review