The Backwash of War Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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)
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
How they got the BBC series from this book I shall never know. Its very small book. There a few patients and nursing staff that were in both series and book but very little. Read morePublished on 23 Jun. 2014 by insectlady
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