cover image Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

Catherine Reef. Clarion, $18.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-544-53580-0

Best recognized for her work during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) receives full credit for her most far-reaching accomplishment in this lucid, handsomely designed volume: transforming nursing from an unsavory profession for women into a respectable one. Veteran biographer Reef (Noah Webster: Man of Many Words) provides abundant background on Nightingale’s family and the Victorian era, making vividly clear how revolutionary her work was. (Prior to Nightingale’s insistence that dirty bandages, putrid water, and foul food had no place in a hospital, eight of nine British soldier deaths were due to disease, rather than wounds.) Drawing extensively on primary sources, Reef reveals Nightingale’s complex character—highly intelligent and inquisitive, demanding, irascible, and driven by her belief in God’s work—and does not minimize the impact of her ambitions and expectations on her family and colleagues. Reef sharply delineates Nightingale’s enormous suffering for her refusal to follow convention while celebrating her lesser-known achievements: founding the first secular nurse-training school, advising government leaders on topics of health and social welfare, and applying statistics to medical analysis. Archival photos and illustrations further contextualize Nightingale’s life, work, and era. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)