Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific

Mary Cronk Farrell. Abrams, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1028-5
"Grit" scarcely describes what the heroines of this stark chronicle of wartime military service demonstrated. Farrell (Fire in the Hole!) lays bare the experiences of Army and Navy nurses who enlisted for peacetime duty in the Philippines, caring for military families at base hospitals. Their jobs and lives drastically changed when the Japanese invaded the country after attacking Pearl Harbor, thrusting the nurses into combat duty as bombs "dropped in droves" around them. When wards overflowed with wounded soldiers, the Army constructed makeshift hospitals in jungles, which further eroded many nurses' living and working conditions. As internees in POW camps after the Americans surrendered to the Japanese, the women endured deplorable housing facilities, disease, and malnutrition as they continued to care for patients. Farrell's immersing account draws on her interviews with the last surviving nurse (who has since died) and the children of other nurses, as well as transcripts of other interviews. She brings her subjects' personalities and harrowing ordeal into clear focus and sheds deserved light on this chapter of WWII history. Ages 10–16. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 02/25/2014
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