7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A First World War Nurse's Personal Testimony for Peace in the 21st Centuary, 15 Feb. 2014
I first became aware of Mary Borden's book 'The Forbidden Zone' while I was visiting 'In Flanders' Fields' Museum' in Ypres in Belgium - two paragraphs were printed and suspended on a board by a window. I'd spent close to three hours (and covered less than a quarter of what the museum contains), studying the exhibits which include both written and spoken personal testimony from some of the War Survivors (convincingly delivered by actors) by the time I came across the extracts from Nurse Borden's book. The combination of a bone-shaking and mind-numbing whine played over a soundsystem, which is a sensorial distillation of the sounds of the then battlefield environmental conditions, and the catalytic effect of Ms. Borden's words meant that my own sense of compassion rent my heart to pieces, the person I was before I went to Belgium faded and my tears washed away any fears I ever had about publicly speaking out about the horrors of warfare. To say I had changed would be an understatement. We'd travelled as two fairly separate communities from two neighbouring villages in Northern Ireland and spent two days being guided around many of the battle fields and cemetaries of the Somme, Thiepval, Messines, Vimy Ridge and Ypres Salient. We left as one people united by our common humanity, the tragedy of our own country's history and the joint effort it takes to stand together grounded in our present but focused on our future in the face of sectarianism and bigotry. Mary Borden's book is a powerful testimony for the cessation of all wars; an unflinching witnessing to the graphic horrors inflicted by conflict on the body, mind and spirit - and not just on humans, but on animals too; the words of this one woman who invested her millions in field hospitals to treat the wounded and dying along the Western Front should make any politician worth his or her salt sit up and ask society where we really want to go as a species...if they don't/can't/wont then it's up to us to ask ourselves how much we truly value Peace for the sake of our children and our children's children. If Mary Borden, as a multi-millionaire turned nurse, did it, then we can too - and in the process we can ditch the multi-millionaire politicians who support the super elites who all make a profit from war. Mary Borden was a compassionate, brave and enlightened woman - and she is one of my heroes. Read this book - and make the pilgrimage to Flanders if it is remotely within your ability to do so - you will come away from both, recognising as she did, the preciousness of Life.