The Madness: A Memoir of War, Fear and PTSD

By Fergal Keane

An Irish Times book of the year 2022

A powerful, probing book about PTSD.

As a journalist Keane has covered conflict and brutality across the world for more than thirty years, from Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and many more. Driven by an irresistible compulsion to be where the night is darkest, he made a name for reporting with humanity and empathy from places where death and serious injury were not abstractions, and tragedy often just a moment’s bad luck away.

But all this time he struggled not to be overwhelmed by another story, his acute ‘complex post-traumatic stress disorder’, a condition arising from exposure to multiple instances of trauma experienced over a long period. This condition has caused him to suffer a number of mental breakdowns and hospitalisations. Despite this, and countless promises to do otherwise, he has gone back to the wars again and again.


In this powerful and intensely personal book, Keane interrogates what it is that draws him to the wars, what keeps him there and offers a reckoning of the damage done.

PTSD affects people from all walks of life. Trauma can be found in many places, not just war. Keane’s book speaks to the struggle of all who are trying to recover from injury, addiction and mental breakdown. It is a survivor’s story drawn from lived experience, told with honesty, courage and an open heart.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 06 Jul 2023
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-00-842046-8
FERGAL KEANE OBE was born in London and educated in Ireland. He is one of the BBC’s most distinguished correspondents and has covered most of the world’s conflicts of the last thirty years. In 2020, he announced that he was stepping down as the BBC’s Africa editor because of his ongoing struggles with PTSD. His documentary film Fergal Keane: Living with PTSD was broadcast in May 2022. He is the author of several bestselling and award-winning books including Letter to Daniel, addressed to his newborn son, Road of Bones, about the siege of Kohima, and Wounds, which won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Prize and the Irish Book of the Year Award for Non-Fiction. He has been awarded a BAFTA, an Emmy and the Orwell Prize for political writing. He continues to work for the BBC as a Special Correspondent

Praise for The Madness -

”'Keane has not just the courage to risk death so that the most important stories can be told, as well as the eye to tell them with vivid subtlety, but also the humility to reveal the havoc that this task visits on the beholder” - Spectator

”'A brutally honest exploration of what motivates Keane to keep reporting on atrocities despite the toll on his mental health… Gentle but unflinching” - Guardian, Book of the Day

”'The Madness is engaging without resorting to sensation. Fluent prose follows the decline of the political situation - and of Keane’s own mental health - in chilling, compelling detail” - Observer

”'Fergal Keane opens doors into closed places. He lets us look inside those complex compartments where fear, anxiety, anger and panic lurk, and he tells a story of being afraid all of his life… beautifully written… This is an important book” - Irish Times

”'Fergal Keane’s torments might be as nothing compared to the sufferings he has observed, and his work can do nothing to alleviate those sufferings, but what chance is there of any restitution, no matter how inadequate it may be, without witnesses to the crimes of the truly guilty?” - TLS

”'The Madness is a heady reckoning with trauma, adrenaline and that mixture of moral courage and compulsion that drives the news cycle, Fergal Keane tells difficult, sometimes horrible truths about the world, but it is the truths he finds about himself that make this book a necessary read” - Annie Enright

”'A really important piece of work” - Susanna Reid, on Good Morning Britain

”'An immensely brave book” - Tortoise

”'Powerful, and heartbreaking” - Audrey Magee

”'The Madness is an extraordinary, captivating account of one man's journey in search of truth, as he excavates the human story from chaos” - Elaine Feeney