WARD TWENTY by James Warner Bellah


Email this review


Originally scheduled for Spring publication under the Appleton imprint, this book -- for rather personal reasons -- was dropped from that list, and taken over by Doubleday, where the editors felt it had something important to say. We agree -- though the thin skinned won't be able to take it, and public libraries will have to be careful. Hard-hitting, unsparing, this is realistic fictionalization of the problem of the returning wounded, in an unvarnished, unsentimentalized account of the mutilated veterans undergoing surgery, therapy, in Ward 20. Where they came from --how they came to be in the hospital -- a cross section of all types and backgrounds, personalities and attitudes, of those who learn and of those who refuse to learn, how to meet the world they must now live in, armless, blind, maimed, sometimes mentally as well as bodily. There are the doctors, the nurses, the visitors, wanted and unwanted, respected or the reverse. There is the careful official avoidance of recognizing the ways in which the men solve their own sex problems. There are attempts to save the lives of those who are compelled to face defeat. There are the efforts at adjustment, -cheerful, grim, despairing. It is not an easy book to read. Neither is theirs an easy life to live. But -- be that as it may --booksellers and librarians are daily facing the problem of a large percentage of readers who don't want war books -- who don't want unpleasantness. A vast number of people are going to have to live with the aftermath of war; this is a book that might help other people realize what it means in human terms.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1945
Publisher: Doubleday, Doran