THE OTHER SIDE OF TIME: A Combat Surgeon in World War II by Brendan Phibbs

THE OTHER SIDE OF TIME: A Combat Surgeon in World War II

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A tough, vivid war memoir written by a surgeon operating on the German front in WW II. There is no reason why Phibbs had to find himself patching wounds on the front lines; but because of his eagerness to enlist, he missed the cushier posts his colleagues got. Phibbs has the humility and humor to admit that if he had realized what ""ground forces"" meant, he might have been more circumspect. But once there, he took on the cause of the men on the front with the vigor and anger of his New Deal principles. It is hard to decide who are the major villains of his memoir--the sadistic, smug ""Krauts,"" or the incompetent, smug men of Army headquarters. From their refusal to listen to men on the front lines who knew an ordered maneuver was suicidal, to their inability to break Army rule and give K-rations to starving inmates at Dachau, Army bureaucrats exposed their insensitivity. Phibbs pays tribute to the common soldier, who, despite the frequent stupidity and cowardice of his commanders, won the war. Phibbs is also acutely aware of class conflict among the men and is pleased to see the Jew from New York slug the anti-Semite, the black from Jackson, Mississippi, punch out the Nazi. Toughness, decency and self-sacrifice are the virtues Phibbs celebrates. Every conversation, he claims, is the literal truth. While other soldiers sat around their foxholes growing bored and fearful, Phibbs kept his diary. With more than a nod to Hemingway, Phibbs brings his men and the war they fought to life with linguistic honesty. The language in the book is strong, the descriptions of violence detailed.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1987
Publisher: Little, Brown