Never Leave Your Dead

Now Available on Amazon!A True Story of War Trauma, Murder, and Madness

In March of 1953, Donald Watkins, a former Marine who served in China during the Japanese invasion of 1937, murdered his wife and mother-in-law. After serving twenty-two years in Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane, he was released and eventually married again. A decade later, Donald may or may not have been the cause of his second wife’s death, as well.

Author Diane Cameron uncovers the true story of her stepfather, Donald Watkins. Was he a traumatized veteran? A victim of abuse in the mental-health system? Was he a criminal? Mentally ill? Or just eccentric?

As she unravels this mystery, Cameron finds healing and understanding with her own struggles and history of family abuse. She discovers an unlikely collection of role models in the community of the China Marines, as they were known. Together, they help put the pieces of shared war experience in perspective and resolve the more complex issue of understanding trauma itself.


Diane’s TedX Talk • December 2016


With insights drawn from diverse experts such as Thomas Szasz and Bessel van der Kolk, Cameron unlocks the connection between the experience of veterans of past wars and those who deal with war trauma today.

Donald’s story traverses continents and decades. Never Leave Your Dead is a stark examination of dysfunctional family dynamics in the face of mental illness.

An Excerpt

From the Foreword

“Diane Cameron has enlarged my understanding of what it means to be a warrior.The stories she recounts of United States Marines stationed in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation at the beginning of WWII certainly illustrate one of the fundamental roles played by the profession of arms in our society — to protect life, property, commerce, and our national identity.The stories in this book also suggest ways in which war can inflict deep and lasting psychological wounds in warriors.But the greatest lesson in Never Leave Your Dead about the way of the warrior emerges not from the lives of the author’s beloved China Marines, but from her own pilgrimage to imagine and understand the tragic life of one particular China Marine — the one who married her mother years later — and to bring home his memory, finally, with love and honor.”

–Bill Nash

Download the Foreward

Never Leave Your Dead book cover - by Diane CameronNow Available at

Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Publisher: Central Recovery Press (June 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1942094167
ISBN-13: 978-1942094166
Details: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches, 8 ounces

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