Like Leila Richards' The Hills of Sidon (p. 750), this is an autobiographical account of a physician's efforts to alleviate...

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CHILDREN OF THE SEIGE

Like Leila Richards' The Hills of Sidon (p. 750), this is an autobiographical account of a physician's efforts to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians trapped in the refugee camps of Lebanon. Richards was able to personalize her story with touching portraits of her co-workers, her patients, and even the militants whose opposing political, national, and religious beliefs resulted in nearly unendurable and seemingly unending suffering. Cutting, on the other hand, seems more interested in relating the medical details of her 18-month stint in the camp at Bourj al Barajineh, near Beirut. She devotes pages to operating procedures, amputations, transfusions--the grim activities that attend life in a war zone. The result is a work that, while fascinating in its depiction of the carnage that surrounded the author and of her resourcefulness and tenacity in dealing with it, is less emotionally involving than Richards' earlier account. There are, however, heartbreaking incidents here, and passages that celebrate courage and dedication--e.g., the description of the women of the camp lining up to make a dash beyond the boundaries to bring back supplies for their beleaguered fellow refugees: reviled, beaten, and even occasionally killed, they persist in their mission. Bourj al Barajineh was under siege during much of Cutting's stay; food and medical supplies were rapidly being exhausted, and Cutting's courage in bringing the situation to the world's attention, even at the very real risk of her own safety, is admirable and revealed here with exemplary modesty. During the siege, Cutting even falls in love with a Dutch nurse, Ben Alofs, though the final outcome of their romance is left a question here: just another example of the rather impersonal tone of a work that, though a best-seller in Britain, is likely to leave American readers less than satisfied.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988