Reaching Past the Wire: A Nurse at Abu Ghraib

Deanna Germain, Author, Connie Lounsbury, With . Minnesota Historical Society/Borealis $24.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-87351-606-8

I realized that the military can make a good soldier out of a mother,” writes this Minnesota grandmother and lieutenant colonel in the army reserves, “but it can't take the good mother out of the soldier.” In this hardship-weary but generally positive account of her 18 months of service as nurse and soldier at Abu Ghraib, the notorious site of prisoner abuse by American military personnel, Germain seeks to redress the stigma of that enormous scandal. Detailing the daily challenges, sacrifices and service of those at Abu Ghraib, she tells of her contact with Iraqi citizens, detainee patients and foreign workers. Arriving after-the-fact and to another part of the compound, her account contains no insights into the abuse scandal itself (indeed, her take on the misdeeds of a “few” echoes the official “bad-apple” line of military and government spokespersons). The nebulous hierarchy of command at Abu Ghraib, the ambivalence of hospital staff toward wounded prisoners and first-hand glimpses of the exploitative subcontracting of Third World labor by American corporations like KBR do not shake Germain's faith in the rightness of her mission or turn her prosaic narrative—interspersed with texts of e-mails home and journal entries—from the unexamined constant of “duty to country.” (Sept. 1)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-87351-692-1
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-68134-058-6
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