Letters from Abu Ghraib, a collection of email messages sent by Joshua Casteel to his friends and family during his services as a US Army interrogator and Arabic linguist in the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion, is the raw and intimate record of a soldier in a moral conflict with his duties. Once a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point and raised in an Evangelical Christian home, Casteel finds himself stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in the wake of the prisoner abuse scandal. He is troubled by what he is asked to do there, although it is, as he writes, “miles within the bounds of what CNN and the BBC care about.” Forced to confront the nature of fundamentalism, both religious and political, Casteel asks himself a fundamental question: “How should I then live?”
“What Joshua Casteel interrogates in Letters from Abu Ghraib is the very idea of liberty. For every enduring work of literature is an epistle from the prison of silence to the possibility of freedom.” – from The Foreword by Christopher Merrill
“An astounding insider’s look at the war in Iraq. Joshua Casteel is an astute observer, a superb writer and a man of deeply held moral and religious conviction. Letters from Abu Ghraib gives us an entry into his personal journey from dedicated soldier and interrogator to determined conscientious objector.” – Emily Mann, McCarter Theatre Artistic Director and Resident Playwright
Letters from Abu Ghraib shows us that good and evil are not absolutes, but rather points along the spectrum of decisions that we, as individuals and participants in institutions, all must face.” – Kelly Dougherty, Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War
JOSHUA CASTEEL has authored several plays performed in the US and abroad, including Returns and The Interrogation Room. He has given talks on religious and political matters throughout the United States, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, and the United Kingdom. He currently lives in Iowa City where he is at work on a memoir.



Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.