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The Roses of No Man's Land
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2001
Lyn Macdonald has yet again proven herself as one of the great historiographers of our time. This account of the struggles and lives of forgotten heroes in the war hospitals is a very moving and heartfelt read. The way in which Macdonald really makes you feel the passion and turmoil of the people who fought bravely to save the young men injured and maimed on the battlefield is truly a masterpiece. From the muddied stretcher bearers on the battlefields of France to the volunteer aides working in Allied hospitals this book shows the true depth of bravery and patriotism that nobody in my generation has ever felt. As a youngster Lyn Macdonalds books have really inspired me to learn more and understand about the War that was to end all Wars. It is a fitting tribute to those who fell and those who helped to rebuild the men of the allied nations. With testaments like this we should never forget.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2004
The Roses of No Man's Land gives a refreshingly different perspective on World War One. This most dreadful of conflicts has become synonymous with appalling slaughter but until I read this extraordinary book I have always seen these events in the abtract - a question of numbers rather than individuals. Macdonald had put together a complelling collection of stories of individual courage and endurance, of casualties and those who looked after them and in so doing gives the reader a very personal insight into the suffering of those involved.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2003
The detail in this story is extrodinary and extensive, spanning the entire First World War from the beginning to the end. It shows a different kind of War to that normally written and shows war at both its cruelist and its kindest. Indeed, both the British Tommy and his German counterpart show alot of compassion for each other , according to the Nurses reports.These reports are the result of verbal interviews conducted with the wounded men and officers and are covering both the Western Front and the near East and Turkish Campaigns. An excellent and interesting read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Roses of No Man's Land is a triumph of a book - seamlessly combining first hand personal accounts with a well written, interesting and informative account of the course of the war. Not only concentrating on the Western Front (which many histories do), MacDonald covers the Turkish front and Gallipoli, as well as the often hazardrous journeys on the oceans in U Boat infested waters to name but a few.
Focusing primarily on the medical side to the First World War, it includes accounts from a wide scope of individuals, from American surgeons and pioneers, to Ambulance drivers (male and female) and of course the Nurses and VAD's serving abroad as well as 'at home'.
It makes fascinating and often, heart breaking reading.
The wounds sustained during the first world war, were predictibly horrific, but what this book focuses on is the people who strived to save all those that they could, working endless days and nights in often cramped and freezing conditions. However, very little complaining is heard throught these accounts. They are a tribute to the strength of the human spirit and, in this case, unusually, the strength of the women under supreme pressure, as opposed to the often covered plight of the Tommy.

It would be very interesting to see a book in similar format focusing on the Nurses and Medical Officers during the first world war on the German front, I'm sure that it would tell a similar story but it would be another fascinating read I am sure.

I would highly recommend this book - it is well written, thoroughly researched and an addictive read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 1998
This book traces the work of the medical services available to the troops during World War 1. It is an interesting and easily readable book. Lyn Macdonald makes use of letters home; diary entries and personal interviews with the people invloved. She manages to create the atmosphere of the time and to recapture the feelings of these people without resorting to sensationalism or emotional trickery. She gives a background of the fighting, and details the conditions under which the medical teams were working. Much of modern medicine was developed due to the circumstances of the war, and it is fascinating to read of the early steps in plastic surgery, blood transfusion and artificial limb use, all of which are so much taken for granted today. As a member of the medical profession, it positively made my toes curl to read about the techniques, procedures and conditions under which such emergency work was performed. The tragedy of the failures is not ommitted, but we a re also told of the successes, both big and small, which helped to save so many lives. It is interesting to read about the civilians and volunteers who so readily gave of their time, influence, money and material goods, to enable hospitals to be established in many church halls and larger houses. Much is written about the fighting force, and rightly so, but this is the story of the people who were equally important, but it is a story that is not so often heard. The style of writing is extremely readable, and this is an interesting and informative book to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2012
a fascinating read and a wonderfully broad cross-section of the people who worked so tirelessly in the medical services amidst the horrors of ww1. It's easy to read, and i would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in the topic.
Amidst the mind-blowing numbers of casualties, and the headlines we all hear, this is a way to start hearing from the individuals, and to see the war from a slightly different perspective. Excellent stuff
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Macdonald has made an important contribution with this book on a population which very little had been written about - the nurses behind the front lines during the first world war, particularly in France. They were immortalized in a very popular song of the time "Rose of no man's land".

She brings to life the terrible existence of these women. Mostly from middle class genteel families, they came face to face with terribly wounded and dying soldiers, in hospitals run more like very strict boarding schools by moralist sisters. Many surprising insights into life at the time come out in the book. I was particularly struck by the great difficulty for many soldiers of having wounds dressed or bodies washed by women nurses. Many of them had never shown their naked body to a woman in their life.

Macdonald write from a point of view generally sympathetic to British war aims, but includes much fascinating information about these impressive lives.
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on 19 May 2014
This is a must read for anyone interested in WW1. I purchased it for my Kindle as it was recommended as the inspiration for "The Crimson Field" on BBC which I have been watching and enjoyed. The book begins with the note that it is not "just a woman's book" - how true. It is a record of the reminiscences and diaries of those who actually were doctors, nurses, VADs, ambulance drivers and patients in the clearing stations and field hospitals in Belgium, France and back home in "Blighty". These people, mainly volunteers, went to serve "our boys" and their experiences changed their lives for ever. They were part of a war that involved literally millions of men of many nationalities; from Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland), Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Africa and Americans who joined the Canadian army before America actually joined the war. They saw horrific injuries from day one but their resilience and determination to help the injured and dying kept them going through long days and nights without a break. Through necessity, breakthroughs in medicine and surgery were made which changed the lives of those undergoing the treatment and are still being used and improved today. All this is documented. Don't get me wrong, this is not a dried up depressing medical story, it is full of life, joy, happiness, laughter and love. Until I reached the end, I didn't realise that the book was written some time ago - 1993 - but it is very pertinent to the conflicts in which our armed forces are, or have been, involved such as Iraq and Afghanistan and the casualties and deaths that families have had to endure today. This book is a tribute to true "unsung" heroes and heroines and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2009
In "The Roses of No Man's Land" it's the (mostly female)volunteers working in het military hospitals in the UK as well in France and who get their stories told. Filled with personal accounts this book is a must for people studying the RAMC during WW1. Another brilliant piece from Lyn Macdonald in which VAD's, Sisters and other medical personnel are in the spotlight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2009
An acount of the VADs and Nurses during the Great War when they had to deal with injuries unknown in any other comflict in all the history of warfare. The gas gangrene and terrible inflictions from the trenches make heart breaking reading. I had never thought about the places women played during that terrible war. Heart breaking and inspirig.
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