Submitted by: Paul Kendel

Category: Books

Walking the Tiger’s Path: A Soldier’s Spiritual Journey in Iraq puts you on the ground with National Guardsman Paul M. Kendel as he faces roadside bombs, ambush, and potential suicide bombers while patrolling the “Triangle of Death” outside Baghdad in 2005. Already familiar with the Middle East through travel and study, he’s acutely aware of the local people and culture around him—in a way that many American soldiers are not. As his friends start dying and the other soldiers grow embittered toward the Iraqis, he struggles to maintain his humanity and sense of compassion with his finger on the trigger.
Impulsively sending an email to the Shambhala Buddhist community, he makes a connection with an instructor, Margot Neuman, and they begin a correspondence that provides him with advice and spiritual teachings. Literally Sgt. Kendel discovers and contemplates spiritual teachings with a gun in his hands, as he makes his way through the blood-soaked, cratered landscape of a war zone. When he returns to America, he finds that his “ordinary” life is not immune to death and suffering either, affirming the principles he’s been learning and the need for compassion. In the end, he comes to a heartening place of peace and clarity.
An unusual story, Walking the Tiger’s Path combines a compelling, quick-reading, gritty military narrative with a voyage of spiritual discovery centered on principles of eastern religion. There are few, if any, stories like it in modern Buddhist literature. At the same time, it fits into the realm of classic war memoir, replete with the details of battle and the modern soldier’s life, told in a voice by turns humane, humorous, sarcastic, and thoughtful. The most natural audiences for his book, therefore, would be anyone interested in spirituality and eastern religion, as well as those interested in war stories and American military history in Iraq.

What Reviewers Are Saying:

"Kendel’s story is beyond unique. How can one “kill and pray” and maintain one’s own sanity and humanity? Rarely do civilians have an opportunity to see the true nature of war. Not the five o’clock version, but the reality….That he was able to maintain some compassion amid this quagmire speaks well of his inner self. Is Kendel a hero? Perhaps not in the sense one might identify with an Audie Murphy, but heroic to be sure in how he came to deal with all that was going on within and around him. A soldier with conviction amid the brutality of war is worth the read." --Military Writers Society of America

"Amid the chaos and horror of war, this soldier has discovered a profound truth: if we want suffering to lessen, the first step is learning that keeping the cycle of aggression going doesn't help."--Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War

"Kendel’s story is an important one, a tale for our times about how war dehumanizes everyone it touches. Kendel is no dewy-eyed pacifist and his quest to retain his humanity is gripping, largely because he fails as often as he succeeds. He’s no Homeric hero but rather a fully flawed human being, facing an internal war that seems every bit as potentially annihilating as the larger conflict that graces our TV screens and newspapers." --James Broderick, Phd.,

"With humor and heart Kendel delves deep into his experiences." -- Andrea Miller, Shambhala Sun

About the author:

Sgt. Kendel spent three years in the Army and twenty in the National Guard. He has two master’s degrees, in anthropology and in middle-eastern history, and currently teaches high school in Jacksonville, Florida.

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