Widow of a musician, a brave and struggling Civil War nurse, creator of new homes in Kansas for Chicago's destitutes, cleaner of New York City Slums, champion of womens' rights-, a selfless, energetic and understanding individual- that was Mary Ann Sail Bickerdyks. She had a rough childhood and little or no formal education during her girlhood on a farm in Ohio. But she knew a lot about nursing and practical medecine. The beginning of the Civil War found her a widow with two young sons in Galesburg, Illinois. Almost immediately she rose to Rev. Dr. Edward Beecher's (the brother of Harriet and Henry Ward Beecher) call to do something about the horrible conditions of the wounded Union soldiers in Cairo in southern Illinois. From then on her life is the story of struggle with and against the army for more nurses, and among the many failures, of one small success after another until she had done an honorable and exciting piece of work for her country. Told in a style that incorporates the good, solid, down-to-earth language of the day, Nina Brown Baker's biography presents a fair picture of the social and political factors of the times as well as a swiftly moving account of Mother Bickerdyke's life. A good companion book to Woodham-Smith's Florence Nightingale, a worthy addition to the annals of medical history, and fine Americana.