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The Roses of No Man's Land [Paperback]

Lyn MacDonald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Sep 2013


'On the face of it,' writes Lyn Macdonald, 'no one could have been less equipped for the job than these gently nurtured girls who walked straight out of Edwardian drawing rooms into the manifest horrors of the First World War ...'

Yet the volunteer nurses rose magnificently to the occasion. In leaking tents and draughty huts they fought another war, a war against agony and death, as men lay suffering from the pain of unimaginable wounds or diseases we can now cure almost instantly. It was here that young doctors frantically forged new medical techniques - of blood transfusion, dentistry, psychiatry and plastic surgery - in the attempt to save soldiers shattered in body or spirit. And it was here that women achieved a quiet but permanent revolution, by proving beyond question they could do anything. All this is superbly captured in The Roses of No Man's Land, a panorama of hardship, disillusion and despair, yet also of endurance and supreme courage.

'Lyn Macdonald writes splendidly and touchingly of the work of the nurses and doctors who fought their humanitarian battle on the Western Front' Sunday Telegraph

Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and survivors, told in their own words, and cast a unique light on the First World War. Most are published by Penguin.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241952409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241952405
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The tale is allowed to tell itself without any frontal assault on the emotions, and is all the more stirring thereby (Observer)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great mark of respect to a wars unsung heroes 23 Nov 2001
By A Customer
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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book 24 July 2004
By A Customer
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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nurses at War 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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Roses of No Mans Land 21 Aug 2010
Just finished this book - my first by Lyn MacDonald but will certainly not be my last. Despite the sombre mood it's closing chapters have left me in, this was a fantastic blend of facts, infomation and personal histories which created an easy to read journey through years of WW1 - which were cleverly interwoven with 1914 characters cropping up again throughout the book and in particular in different circumstances at the closing of the war

In addition to its enlightening history of what was going on away from the battle front and the consequences of the human struggle it provides an equally fascinating insight into the British class system and the breaking down of its barriers through need and circumstance - for some, but not all!

I would thoroughly recommend this book - normally I read soldiers accounts, in works like Voices From and Forgotten Voices but it has been brilliant to read so many behind the scenes parallel accounts of tragedy and joy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarquable work 28 Feb 2010
By Audrey
This is the first book by Lyn Macdonald that I read. I was so impressed by her careful research, her intelligent and thoughtful approach of the First World War, and her excellent writing style, that I ordered several others of her books. Each one is excellent. She is a wonderful writer and historian. The details she gives, the people she chooses to quote, the way she explains the psychological and military aspects of the war are remarquable. I absolutely recommend all her books to those interested in the Great War.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I first read this book as part of my A-Level studies when I learned that my great uncle had undergone reconstructive surgery during WWI (jaw shot away). I then went on to avidly devour all of Lyns excellent 'peoples history' books. This one is particularly good, refering to the doctors, nurses and medics who fought to rebuild those shattered by the war either physically or mentally. The first person narratives give a particulary touching insight into the conditions faced by both medical staff and patients. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book but...
typeface too small comfortably to read. Lynn Macdonald created masterpieces with this series though - there are no better books.
Published 4 months ago by swotty
5.0 out of 5 stars WWI
This is the first book by Lyn MacDonald I bought. Being Belgian living in the Flanders and having had two grandfathers that fought in the Great War I was interested in the story... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jenny De Schutter
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I was delighted with this book. It is a fascinating read, written in a very engaging style. I would recommend it highly.
Published 8 months ago by Barbara
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, heartbreaking and heart-warming
This was not an easy read. There were times when I was in floods of tears, and most of the time I was just totally awed by the heroism of the women described. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jolene
4.0 out of 5 stars True Roses!
These are the stories of the Great War that people seldom hear or seek out. These men & women were true heroes
Published 10 months ago by LinF
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
All part of a wonderful collection of memories. A tribute to those who served. All to be read with Martin Middlebrook's two books on the Great War and Peter Hart's later works.
Published 14 months ago by MAXWELL HUDSON
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, moving interesting testimony
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. Read more
Published 16 months ago by polly
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it - don't borrow it, because you'll want to re-read
The titles refers to the nurses who went to war to nurse military casualties in World War I. Many were well-to-do ladies whose lives would otherwise have been filled with... Read more
Published on 2 May 2011 by S. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought provoking
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... Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2009 by Ms. Zc Baron
5.0 out of 5 stars Great personal accounts
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. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by G. J. Van Brink
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