Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire from Valley Forge to Afghanistan

Scott McGaugh, foreword by Vice Adm. Harold M. Koenig, M.D. . Osprey (Random, dist.), $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-84908-515-1
McGaugh (Midway Magic) notes that during the past 500 years, for every soldier killed by the enemy, four were severely wounded on the battlefield and ultimately died, Documenting "the extraordinary and unwavering devotion to duty by frontline corpsmen, medics, nurses, doctors, and specialists," McGaugh's march through the centuries emphasizes the resourcefulness and creativity of shorthanded medical workers with few resources, beginning in 1777, when George Washington's medical corps confronted hundreds of wounded and dying men at Georgetown. The Civil War "crystallized the need for a permanent American... commitment to military medicine"; new challenges, such as mustard gas, marked WWI, along with mechanized transportation, which revolutionized battlefield evacuation. In WWII, penicillin became a potent weapon against wound infection. WWII is the core of this book, highlighted by the strange account of corpsman Wheeler Lipes, who made national headlines after he performed the first appendectomy on a submarine. Instead of being honored by the Navy, which did not want operations performed by corpsmen without surgical training, Lipes became the victim of a "hushed smear campaign," suggesting he had performed the operation to catapult his career. Similar fascinating personal profiles surface throughout. McGaugh's extensive interviews for this authoritative history. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 312 pages - 978-1-55970-916-3
Open Ebook - 158 pages - 978-1-84908-867-1
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