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Hospital Sketches [Paperback]

Louisa May Alcott
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1989
An account of Alcott's experiences as a nurse during the Civil War.

Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Applewood Books; Reissue edition (1 Aug 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0918222788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0918222787
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,058,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. Educated by her father, the Transcendentalist thinker Bronson Alcott, she was influenced by the prominent men of his circle. Emerson, Hawthorne, Parker and Thoreau. The family was usually short of money, and she worked at various tasks from sewing to writing to help to support it. The Civil War broke out in 1861, and in 1862 she began to work as a volunteer army nurse in a Union Hospital. Out of this came her first book, Hospital Sketches (1863); she went on to write several Gothic romances and thrillers. With the publication of Little Women, her first full-length novel for girls, Alcott leapt from being an obscure, struggling New England writer to becoming the best-selling American author of the century. However, she suffered from ill health aggravated by early deprivation and overwork. Alcott died in Boston in 1888.

Product Description

About the Author

Louisa May Alcott was both an abolitionist and a feminist. She is best known for Little Women (1868), a semiautobiographical account of her childhood years with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. Alcott, unlike Jo, never married: ''... because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.'' She was an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Louisa May Alcott was the first Civil War army nurse to publish an account of her service. Not yet famous at the author of "Little Women," the appearence of "Hospital Sketches" in the summer of 1863 was the also the first of her works to win her widespread attention.

Bored with life at home and wanting to contribute something to the war effort, Alcott volunteered to serve as an nurse. After a wait of several months, she was assigned to the Union Hotel Hospital in Washington DC.

She arrived in mid-December, and her very first day brought her responsibility for forty patients when another nurse fell ill. It was a sign of things to come. Three days after her arrival, the hospital was flooded with wounded from the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Initially horrified at the idea of giving the wounded sponge baths, Alcott quickly overcame this misplaced modesty and became accoustomed to the sights and sounds of the the ward. By the end of her brief service, she had learned how to feed, bathe and comfort the wounded, change dressings and administer medicine. . .even watch amputations without revulsion.

It was as the night nurse on a three-room ward that she found the vivid charachters she would bring to life in "Hospital Sketches." There was a little Ohio sargent she called "Baby B," who had lost his right arm in battle and was teaching himself to write left handed. (He would later become one of her faithful correspondents) There was a 12-year old drummer mourning the loss of a buddy, a helpful Prussian who spoke no English, and a nameless man so addled by war that he was given to running up and down the aisles yelling all night long.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two for the price of one 11 Jun 2011
By T. Russell VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's a shame that the author is so strongly linked with just one book - although Little Women does give hints of her versatility. The first part of the book is very reminiscent of Twain, being a humorous account of a journey and the various calamities which occurred. The subsequent description of hospital life, however, is stark and often very moving, and based on actual experience; it occupies relatively few pages of a short book, but is long enough to get the message over, and may be fairly likened to Whitman's Wound Dresser (I recommend the setting by Adams). This book is actually recommended reading for a Yale course (available free online) on the American Civil War, which illustrates its power. It also made me seek out more of Alcott's work, for which I'm very grateful, as it's led to the pleasure of discovering a host of fine work which I might otherwise never have looked for.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life through a lens 9 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderful little snapshot of what life was like for a civil war nurse when the soldiers came back broken in mind as well as body.
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By H T
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book itself is good but this publication is highly offensive as it has a list of publications, that the publishers who published this book have also published, inside the front cover and these include several strong swear words. I had ordered this as a present and was upset and annoyed that it had these words inside. It completely spoiled the whole book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The experience of an author turned Civil War nurse. 4 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Louisa May Alcott was the first Civil War army nurse to publish an account of her service. Not yet famous at the author of "Little Women," the appearence of "Hospital Sketches" in the summer of 1863 was the also the first of her works to win her widespread attention.

Bored with life at home and wanting to contribute something to the war effort, Alcott volunteered to serve as an nurse. After a wait of several months, she was assigned to the Union Hotel Hospital in Washington DC.

She arrived in mid-December, and her very first day brought her responsibility for forty patients when another nurse fell ill. It was a sign of things to come. Three days after her arrival, the hospital was flooded with wounded from the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Initially horrified at the idea of giving the wounded sponge baths, Alcott quickly overcame this misplaced modesty and became accoustomed to the sights and sounds of the the ward. By the end of her brief service, she had learned how to feed, bathe and comfort the wounded, change dressings and administer medicine. . .even watch amputations without revulsion.

It was as the night nurse on a three-room ward that she found the vivid charachters she would bring to life in "Hospital Sketches." There was a little Ohio sargent she called "Baby B," who had lost his right arm in battle and was teaching himself to write left handed. (He would later become one of her faithful correspondents) There was a 12-year old drummer mourning the loss of a buddy, a helpful Prussian who spoke no English, and a nameless man so addled by war that he was given to running up and down the aisles yelling all night long. Most poingant was the story of John, a Virginia blacksmith whose death was a model of the 19th Century Christian ideal.

Only six weeks after she arrived in Washington, Alcott fell dangerously ill with typhoid fever. Doctors wrote her parents, and before long her father had arrived to take her home. She would spend months recovering. Given a mercury-based compound common in the treatment of typhoid, she would suffer the effects of mercury poisioning for the rest of her life.

She was still confined to bed when she began writing "Hospital Sketches." As "Nurse Tribulation Periwinkle" -- a name adopted under the dictum that a lady's name should not appear in print -- the short book illustrated the flair for charachterization and the delightful sense of humor that would make her later works so popular.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hospital Sketches 1 Feb 2010
By Stephen Balbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
In 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, women military nurses were considered a novelty; fears were of harming their "naturally weak nature" and fraternizing with men. But it was a role successfully pioneered by Florence Nightingale in the Crimea War, and the Union was looking for all the help it could get. Before she became a famous novelist with Little Women, upbeat and adventurous 30 year old Boston native Louisa May Alcott volunteered at a Union hospital in Washington DC. During her intern of 6 weeks she was able to help soldiers wounded at The Battle of Fredericksburg. She wrote a series of letters home vividly describing what a Civil War hospital was like, and the many characters who made up the patients and staff. The letters display a keen sense of humor and observation that would become her hallmark. A short book but highly engaging and fascinating for the quality of writing, the drama of life and death, historical detail, and Alcott's infectious optimism, humor and strength. This is a short book of about 93 pages easily read in a day, but filled with memorable scenes of humor, love, pain and horror.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid Account of the Civil War Wounded 1 Aug 2002
By Caitlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I loved "Hospital Skeches" by Louisa May Alcott. It tells of many wounded soldiers that Louisa actually met in her nursing period at the Georgetown Hospital. It tells of Sergeant Bane and his "Dearest Jane", Doctor P., the 'quiet sleeper', who "would like a drink of water, if you ain't too busy", Billy, Kit, and many others. The only things that I didn't absolutly love about "Hospital Sketches was the font, which was difficult to read, and the fact that Louisa herself isn't the exact main character, name and all. However, Nurse Periwinkle, who replaces Louisa, is an almost carbon copy of Alcott, so I can't really complain. People just don't write books that are as good and as true as this anymore. As I said in my title, this is a truly vivid account of the wounded men and the nurses in the Civil War.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Journal of Experiences 31 July 2007
By Dennis M. Rozarto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What aroused my interest in this book? No snazzy title. No enticing aroma of mystery or intrigue about it at all. But am I glad that I did read it? Unquestionably! From start to finish this book never falters, never flags in evoking the times, the place, and the human experience. Louisa's style may require some adjustments and patience from modern readers, and it probably will appeal to a more mature audience. (I don't see young people dropping Harry Potter for the tale Louisa tells.) As another reviewer eloquently noted, the book tears at the heart and makes you smile and laugh. Would that I could write half as good.The truth of the book cannot be denied. Read it and decide for yourself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch your ISBN# 4 Mar 2013
By P. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The kindle version is referenced with the version that has the ISBN# 9780312260286. However it is NOT the same. The one I was looking for is supposed to have an introduction/preface in it that is about 50 pages. The kindle version does NOT have this. So if you are like me and bought this for a college course be warned that it will not work.
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