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The Backwash of War Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Conway (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844862585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844862580
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 2.2 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

her penetrating account still resonates with crisp authenticity today --Good Book Guide

A relatively quick read, written with great style and composure. Recommended to nurses, nursing students, surgeons, medical students, anybody interested in healthcare, history buffs, war buffs, people who enjoy short stories and anybody interested in general. --Whispers of a Barefoot Medical Student

La Motte is magnificent --The Saturday Times Review

Tough reading ­ and all the more important for it --Event (Mail on Sunday)

About the Author

Ellen Newbold La Motte became one of the first American nurses to volunteer in Europe during World War One, serving in a field hospital In Belgium. "The Backwash of War" is based on a diary she kept during that time. Because of its graphic nature, US publishers refused to release it and the book was censored for years. In later years, La Motte traveled to Asia, where she wrote several books about the opium trade and addiction that were rampant at that time.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
WHAT an amazing book. Honestly, I don't believe I've ever read a historical source like it. THE BACKWASH OF WAR is not done as a documentary. And it certainly isn't first person nor the type of history you would get with Xenophone or Gregory of Tours. Instead, this is a book of vignettes. And the author, Ellen Newbold La Motte, gives you stories that are drawn on her experience as an American nurse volunteering in Flanders during WWI.

Her writing is astonishingly good. It's philosophical, poetic, poignant, and very successful in relating the horrors of war. In fact, if I had had her experiences, I'm quite sure I would have had to write them down, or else go mad.

Take the suicide.

When he could stand it no longer, he fired a revolver
up through the roof of his mouth, but he made a mess
of it. This ball tore out his left eye, and then lodged
somewhere under his skull, so they bundled him into an
ambulance and carried him, cursing and screaming, to
the nearest field hospital.

..Since he had failed-in the job, his life must be saved,
he must be nursed back to health, until he was well enough
to be stood up against a wall and shot.

Nurse Ellen writes of the irony of the time and expense of saving this man. How the surgeon took so much time to partially repair him, and spent so much in materials to save his life, items that might have been used for men who wished to live. All that ether and gauze. All spent so that the poor fellow, with his eye left dangling, could be shot by his countrymen. Because well, discipline is important.
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Format: Hardcover
Firstly it should be said that while the blurb describes this book as the inspiration for the BBC’s The Crimson Field, the relationship between them is a very loose one. This book consists of the raw despatches written by La Motte, an American nurse serving in a French field hospital in Belgium. Her descriptions of the dirt, the deaths, the hopelessness so upset America that the book was banned there during the war.

As the author herself points out ‘there are many people to write you of the noble side, the heroic side, the exalted side of war. I must write you of what I have seen, the other side, the backwash. They are both true’.

This year’s commemoration of 1914 has already given birth to some very romantic, sepia-tinted versions of the war: this is a short, sharp, harsh wake-up call that refuses to shy away from the realities of ‘industrialised killing’. Highly recommended.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Oh hell, this should be compulsory reading for the whole damn country from 15 to 50 . I have been reading about this subject seriously for 15 years, but only now have really good books been available.
I have found that the British do not give any idea of the real horror of war, maybe this is cultural, because memoirs by French and Americans are more visceral and do not hold back , you are left in no doubt and this book is the most horrific I have read, but read it you MUST.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Depicted war nursing just as it happened - excellent book - graphic - not like the TV series much more as war would have been in real life
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly truly good book for people to be made aware of what it must have been like to have lived through those times.
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Format: Hardcover
I am very disappointed in this book as it inspired the drama on tv, nowhere does it show anything similar to the production in any shape or form. The book is boring from start to finish, I kept going in the fervent hope that it would get better, but it did not. The writing is just what it says, small pieces which became articles. There is no feeling towards the patients, doctors, fellow nurses. Nothing about day to day life, nothing about going to the front line. Just awful descriptions but without depth and meaning for the reader. Please do not bother to read this book it will tell you nothing more than you already know about the first world war nurses and the patients they treated, which you can find easily on the internet.
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