An absorbing history of courage and carnage.



During World War I, women physicians saw an opportunity to aid the war effort and prove their professional worth.

Drawing on rich archival material, including letters and memoirs, London-based journalist Moore crafts a compelling history of the challenges faced by women doctors in the early years of the last century. The author focuses primarily on two indomitable women—surgeon Louisa Garrett Anderson and physician and anesthetist Flora Murray—who both had trained at the London School of Medicine for Women and who became lifelong companions. They, like their colleagues, faced widespread hostility; the British Medical Journal complained that the profession was being “besieged by fair invaders.” Nevertheless, determined to set up a hospital for wounded soldiers, the two women raised funds from friends, family, and fellow suffragettes, and many young women came forward eager to serve as doctors, nurses, and orderlies. First establishing a hospital in France, soon their success came to the attention of the British War Office, which invited them to run a 1,000-bed military hospital in a former workhouse on Endell Street in London. Unlike any other British Army hospital, Moore writes, “it would be run solely by women, with an almost entirely female staff.” The author's chronicle of the Endell Street hospital highlights the barbarity of the war: In its four and a half years of existence, the hospital treated tens of thousands of patients and performed more than 7,000 surgeries, treating injuries—such as wounds from powerful artillery and high-explosive shells and the horrific effects of chlorine gas—that many physicians had never before seen. Its reputation was stellar despite incredulous reports about a hospital run by “mere women.” Many medical schools, facing a dearth of male students, at last opened their doors to women. After the war, though, “women doctors were sidelined again into low-status, low paid jobs” in maternity, child care, asylums, and workhouse infirmaries, and medical schools again barred women; “peace had seemingly brought their value to an end.”

An absorbing history of courage and carnage.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5416-7272-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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