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on 21 October 2013
I decided to read this as a result of a few good reviews, but am sorely disappointed. I'm not sure who the target audience is, and it might appeal to those who know nothing about the medical services during the Great War and who are simply looking for an exciting 'Boy's Own' version of events but if you're searching for hard facts I would save your money. The book is obviously grounded in some research, mainly personal memoirs, but the author has then fictionalised them, with much of the text attributing words, events and feelings to these people - things that they never said or did, and that she could not possibly even guess at. Some of the chapters are either poorly researched, or deliberately kept vague so that criticism is rather more difficult. As an example, the chapter on 'Nurses' relies mainly on the (fictionalised)testimony of Winifred Kenyon. Everything in the chapter is written to suggest that she was employed as a trained nurse in a British Casualty Clearing Station for a couple of years. The truth is that Winifred Kenyon was sent to France as an untrained member of the French Red Cross, not the British nursing services, where she worked as a cook at a FRC Hospital at Revigny in the French sector. It's this type of manipulation of the truth (or perhaps just lack of knowledge) that extends throughout the book. There are also a considerable number of factual errors - irritating to see things like Vera Brittain's name given as 'Britten' throughout, and mention of the D.C.M. as the 'Distinguished Combat Medal.' If the names were changed, it would make a great, well-researched work of fiction - seriously good fiction - Tom Keneally eat your heart out - but as a factual book on the medical services during the Great War is misses by a mile. For anyone wanting to know more, the endnotes and bibliography are probably the most useful part of the whole thing. Just in my opinion of course!
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on 17 December 2013
This is an awful book! Right from the start with its pretence that this will somehow be a record of a hitherto `silenced' group. The result is sentimental and mawkish, with the mood summed up in one trite sentence, "Their stories deserve to be heard and understood - just as we have learned to listen to the words of the war poets - for everything they can tell us about suffering and war." And more to the point suffering is a proven seller, one that can be profited from.

Yet many authors, one way or another seek to profit from the misfortunes of others. My issue with Mayhew is that she has deliberately misrepresented the historical facts, fictionalising the lives of real people to her own ends. This while pompously claiming, "Wounded is about the real men and women". Well it is not. Let me illustrate from her `work' on the Joe Pickard - an interview done for the Imperial War Museum back in 1986. Mayhew's version of his life taken from this interview is a fantasy; a travesty which is truly shocking. Almost everything she writes about him is a dubious in the extreme. His career is twisted out of all shape, events made-up entirely or taken out of context. As an illustration please, those of you who are unwise enough to have bought this book then please compare Mayhew's breathy emotional account (not quoted her because it is simply garbage) with this unvarnished version of the time Pickard was wounded taken from the interview:

"They started to 'harrow' the box, like harrowing a field, searching the box with shells. The first lot was all right and it was coming through the second time when I got hit. I remember seeing this big black cloud go up the side of the ditch. When I came to myself I was lying back up the road amongst a lot of dead Frenchmen. There was one Frenchmen hit about the head; he was just like a pepper pot! I jumped straight up and went straight down again and I thought, "Well the leg's away!" I found out where I was hit, tore the trousers down. I got me first aid packet out and there was a lot of gauze a little tube of stuff and a big safety pin - that was your first aid. I pulled the trousers down, I was hit underneath the joint of the leg and I tied it on there. The piece of shrapnel had cut the sciatic nerve, chipped both hip joints, smashed the left side of the pelvis and made three holes in the bladder. I knew there was something the matter with my face - I was bound to - I knew the blood was running. I never bothered about it. Well, I mean in a case like that you think whether you want to live and to hell with what you look like! I lost my nose - a right bloody mess. I thought, "Well if I stop here it's either a bullet or the bayonet!" The Germans wouldn't pick you up you know, couldn't afford it, they were trying to travel fast. I crawled down the road on my hands and knees. I saw a fellow I knew and I gave him a shout, a fellow called Craig from Darlington. He got two little fellows, two little Durhams, to come out. I was about head and shoulders above them. Somehow or other they got a stretcher and there was a Red Cross van pulled up near the bottom of the road. They carried us through the barrage a third time and I got into the wagon and the fellow said, "You'll be alright now, chum!" The ambulance took me to an old farmhouse, the roof was blown off and everything else. I wanted a drink. Well they wouldn't give us any water - abdominal wounds you see. They must have bandaged me there at this advanced clearing station. When I came round it was dark and I was lying on a stretcher. I didn't know what was the matter with us and it turned out there was a blanket over the top of us. I was left for dead! The old lady got the number of my grave and the King and Queen's sympathy! God! I got rid of this blanket and I saw a light, a storm lantern and I shouted out to an orderly. Two of them came down, picked the stretcher straight up and put us on a hospital train." Private Joseph Pickard, 1/5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, 149th Brigade, 50th Division

For me his unvarnished account is bad enough. But of course it is not emotional and `sad' enough for fiction! So it had to be `enhanced'! The rest of the book is equally bad.

File under fiction, but please feel free to listen to the whole interview and make your own your minds up!
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on 30 October 2013
having read an extract of this book in a national newspaper I thought perhaps the actual book would contain more details about the wounded (as in the title) their horrific injuries and how they were treated and adapted when they returned to the UK ( Blighty). Sadly this was not to be and the whole book was a great disappointment with vague recollections of incidents at the front and featuring far too much on the medical staff working at the casualty clearing stations and anecdotal evidence of their lives . There was far too much padding with irrelevant and uninteresting details which detracted from the subject title, in summation a very superficial book on what could have been a very interesting yet disturbing aspect of the so called "Great War" but in this case was not to be and there are far better works already published which covers this subject in much better detail, it is one of those books we felt we had wasted our money in purchasing
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on 30 August 2015
I have studied WW1 history for many years and thought I had read it all when I now know I have not due to the many first person account laid out in this informative book that brings home just how awful the suffering was for so many and how our systems were completely overwhelmed by the wounded. So many things came to light in this book and to think that only the diaries and writings of those volunteers and military that tell us of the huge amount of information that has been hidden. It seems sad that so many people who should have been applauded for their arduous and gruesome work, like the London Voluntary Ambulance, its nurses and even the dispatch rider simply walked away after the war forgotten and unknown even to this day. It was the actions of these men and women tending to the wounded with such care that really made me think. I could rave on and on about the details and how many injustices there were after WW1 but the one person who I wish I could go back in time if I had a time machine to help out was the poor bearer who was so badly wounded and was denied a disability pension and died in poverty in the early 1980's. All his suffering over the years was not even deserving of a small pension to save him from an awful existence, forgotten and a nobody until now when this book highlights his bravery. His wounds were awful yet he uscarried on suffering from his wounds until the day he died. Sobering thoughts and I am glad Emily Mayhew found his and other people stories to tell.
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on 6 January 2016
Bought as a present for my husband who had heard a talk on the subject by Emily Mayhew. He thoroughly enjoyed the book, on a little known aspect of WW1, and found it very readable.
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on 21 June 2016
The boor states the difficulties that people in the various stages of the wounded's journey back to 'blighty'. The author is able to write in a very empathic way through the eyes of the actual participants. Non-fiction reads as a page-turner
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on 17 February 2016
Wonderful hook. Easy to read
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on 29 September 2013
This book is a fantastic telling of the injured from WW1
It is about those who were wounded and those trying to keep them alive.
It examines the new ways of treating soldiers - the basic principles of which are still in place.
Shedding a completely new view on the first world war and really engagingly told.
As a non- historian I am generally put off by dry, factually rich academical historical texts- this book utterly changes that with the telling of the stories of real individuals. Factual information is woven into these personal histories, making these facts easy to understand and also explaining why certain decisions were made and the consequences of them.
It really brings history to life, and is a great read for anyone with an interest in WW1 young and old alike.
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on 27 March 2016
A good account of the unsung heroes of the First World War who worked behind the lines, or in some cases in front of it, to rescue and treat the wounded.
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on 4 September 2014
Well written, moving book. Although there are many books on medical care in World War 1, this one brings an original perspective. Excellent accounts of medical care and the experience of casualties along the medical evacuation chain.
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