WHEN MEDICS, NURSES, and MEDICAL CARE WENT TO WAR, TOO

Being there . . . amid intrepid courage, superhuman heroism, and old-fashioned American guts lined with resoluteness.

Books about World War II military medicine reviewed and recommended by Don DeNevi

Even readers without a smidgen of knowledge or insight about American wartime medical services, i.e., new techniques and cures healing life threatening wounds; refining tent and shanties conditions for urgent, safer battlefield surgeries while undergoing incoming fire; and methods of handling both larger, more serious wounds, and smaller injury cases in both the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Civil War, will hold dear their tear-filled eyes generated by the tenderness and affection the half dozen books listed below narrate – – books about dedicated medicos, nurses, hospital staffs giving their best, then, even more. Reading them circumspectly, with all the probity the reader can muster, the books, a WW II memoir, a biography, a rare surgeon’s journal from the Civil War, and three meticulously-researched histories, combine proudly to remember America’s intrinsic heritage of devotion to duty, service, and healing.

The men and women who appear in these pages are very real people, all heroic in alleviating painful, often horrific, agony while being absolutely committed to saving lives. Theirs’ are story upon story of nursing and nurturing the hurt and wounded in the heat, the muck and mud of the jungle, of dealing with the loneliness and isolation in temperatures far below freezing, of trying to work effectively in countries and geographies where hope is close to hopelessness and moral virtually dead.

Many who read these books will recognize themselves, although each story happened long, long ago and far away. But thanks to McFarland Publishing the stories, now in print for the first time, live again, albeit on shelves, but never again forgotten.

Surprisingly, the cost for all six is approximately $300, suggesting, at this time of year, a surprisingly magnificent Christmas gift for anyone with even a smidgen of interest in wartime medicine.

“Lingering Fever – – A World War II Nurse’s Memoir”, by LaVonne Telshaw Camp. McFarland & Company; 176pp, $25.

A splendid memoir by a devoted, inspiring Army nurse in the China – Burma – India theater of the Pacific War between 1942-1945, LaVonne pictures her service to countless Chinese patients in clear, colorful, often riveting narration. No training in the States prepared this wonderful, naïve country girl what she was about to endure.

“A Surgeon with Stilwell – – Dr. John H Grindlay and Combat Medicine in the China – Burma -India theater of World War !!”, by Alan K. Lathrop. McFarland & Company; 251pp, $39.95.

Army surgeon Grindlay’s unpublished war diary and letters studied by author Alan Lathrop sheds new light on the conduct of American physicians administering battlefield medicine in the tropics. Providing new perspectives on General Stilwell, Chiang – Kai – Shek, and other Allied commanders, as well as those of the Japanese, Lathrop is masterful in cogently presenting hitherto unknow facts and detail in America’s often ignored “Jungle War “ of the Far East.

“The International Medical Relief Corps in Wartime China, 1937 – 1945”, by Robert Mamlok, M.D. McFarland & Company; 241pp, $45.

Most Jewish and communist doctors who fled Hitler wound up helping the Chinese in their death struggle against Japan. They formed the Chinese Red Cross Medical Relief Corps, and, despite the perils, continued to recognize and manage China’s, and, for that matter, the Far East’s, infectious diseases and nutritional disorders.

“Hospital Ships of World War II – – An Illustrated Reference”, by Emory A. Massman. McFarland & Company; 499pp, $49.95.

This richly illustrated book thoroughly covers all 39 ships that served as U.S. Navy and Army hospital ships during WW II. Fascinating is Massman’s documentation of each ship’s personnel, their handling of patients, all the old and new types of wounds and diseases, and general life abroad the ships. Thanks to the unpublished photos, all the ships seem ready for departure. A special reference that certainly belongs in every history buff’s personal library.

“The U.S. Army Medical Base in World War I France – – Life and Care at Bazoilles Hospital Center, 1918 – 1919”, by Peter Weaver. McFarland & Company; 176pp, $45.

Equally important to the war literature are the clear, sharp 300 photos that make up the illustrated history of this fabulous abbreviated encyclopedia describing the physicians, nurses, and other medical staff and their daily lives and work as medical caretakers at the 13,000 bed Bazoilles Hospital in Northern France where 63,000 American soldiers received treatment between 1918-1919 alone! Author Peter Weaver provides a rare picture, perhaps the only one ever published, showing the conditions within of both patients and personnel.

“Easing Pain on the Western Front – – American Nurses of the Great War and the Birth of Modern Nursing Practices”, by Paul E. Stepansky. McFarland & Company; 232pp, $39.95.

This brilliantly narrated text by author Stepansky charts the evolution of nursing care on the battle fields of WW1, recording experimental treatments that succeeded, advances that would soon enough benefit the nurses of WW II. Encounters by nurses and doctors with devastating new forms of injury, and how they coped with advancing military medicine from the States are presented, showing how they were transformed the nature of wartime caregiving and modern nursing practice.

“The Journal Of A Civil War Surgeon – – J. Franklin Dyer”, edited by Michael B. Chesson. Univ. Nebraska Pr., 317pp,

J. Franklin Dyer’s personal medical journal offers a rare and unique perspective on three years of his Civil War service as seen through his own eyes as a surgeon at most of the major battles. Over time, his letters became dismal as he witnessed the ghastly procession of death.

Readers may place orders for each or all five of the McFarland titles by visiting the McFarland website at www.mcfarlandbooks.com. “The Journal Of A Civil War Surgeon”, long out-of-print, may be found via Amazon, E-Bay, or the closest rare book store who will locate it.

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