Surviving Chaos: How I Found

Peace at A Beach Bar

by Harold Phifer

GENRE: Memoir / Non-Fiction

Paperback: $17.95

E-Book: $6.99

ISBN: 978-0-578-74353-0 (e-Book)
ISBN: 978-0-578-74354-7 (Paperback)


For more than fifty years, Harold Phifer’s childhood living conditions remained a secret, even from those who thought they knew him best. No one knew about his past growing up with a mother who suffered from mental illness; a greedy, controlling aunt; a mindless and spoiled older brother; an absent father. It wasn’t until an explosion in Afghanistan that his memory was blasted back into focus. This book is the result of a long, cathartic chat with a stranger at a beach bar, where Harold finally found some peace.


Harold Phifer Headshot.png

Harold Phifer was born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi. His first twenty-five years were spent entirely in his home state. After graduating Mississippi State and Jackson State Universities, he became a highly specialized air traffic controller, living and working as an international contractor, serving numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. SURVIVING CHAOS is his second book.

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Raised by a schizophrenic mother and a manipulating aunt in Mississippi, Harold’s childhood is fraught with consistent abuse and violence. He soon learns the art of becoming invisible and complacent to avoid the daily ritual of physical and emotional attacks, not only from those who should care for him but also from his older sibling and peers. Although Harold’s childhood is a constant battle to survive each day unscathed, he somehow manages to retain his humor and hunger to succeed. Surviving Chaos (How I Found Peace at a Beach Bar) by Harold Phifer is an inspirational and heartwarming story of one man’s journey to make sense of his chaotic and dysfunctional world with unwavering determination and optimism. Follow Harold’s horrifying story as he recounts the events and memories from the mayhem of his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As Harold, now 56 years of age, recovers from a near-death experience in Afghanistan, he begins the long journey toward recovery and a peaceful future. 

Surviving Chaos by Harold Phifer is a beautifully written memoir that will take you on a rollercoaster of powerful emotions. Harold is a natural-born storyteller as he invites you inside his world of betrayal, abuse, neglect, and triumph. I loved how the story, switching from past to present, lends the reader insight into Harold’s mindset at each stage of his life. The humor is superb; his attitude toward his lack of friends and his dog abandoning him made me laugh out loud. The characters are memorable, with larger-than-life personalities that leaped from the page, especially Flirty Shirley and Dead Eye Red. The story flowed perfectly and kept my interest. Some of the scenes of abuse were extremely hard to read, especially the manipulating mind games by his aunt. The relentless bullying and violence Harold suffers builds a strength of character that is extraordinary. However, the story reminds us that one event can trigger painful memories of the past if not addressed. Harold’s story is a beacon of hope that we can overcome adversity and regain our dignity, kindness, and resolve to find a positive future. Surviving Chaos is a compelling read.