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on 24 July 2004
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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on 12 August 2017
Lyn MacDonald has done a great job for all of us with her series of books on WW1. All written when it was still possible to gather first hand accounts from those who had lived through the war. The memories and stories told form the core of each book, from the early days of the war through to 1918 and the Armistice. This is about the work of the VAD's, the ladies who volunteered to assist the hospital staff dealing with the casualties of warfare. Horrendous in many places but a must read. Lyn MacDonald deserves a medal herself.
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on 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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on 5 July 2017
The story of the tragedy of war.
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on 13 May 2017
Moving and informative of a time and place. Especially for those with a medical background
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on 14 December 2009
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 war. Not only concentrating on the Western Front (which many histories do), MacDonald covers the Turkish front and Gallipoli, as well as the often hazardrous journeys on the oceans in U Boat infested waters to name but a few.
Focusing primarily on the medical side to the First World War, it includes accounts from a wide scope of individuals, from American surgeons and pioneers, to Ambulance drivers (male and female) and of course the Nurses and VAD's serving abroad as well as 'at home'.
It makes fascinating and often, heart breaking reading.
The wounds sustained during the first world war, were predictibly horrific, but what this book focuses on is the people who strived to save all those that they could, working endless days and nights in often cramped and freezing conditions. However, very little complaining is heard throught these accounts. They are a tribute to the strength of the human spirit and, in this case, unusually, the strength of the women under supreme pressure, as opposed to the often covered plight of the Tommy.

It would be very interesting to see a book in similar format focusing on the Nurses and Medical Officers during the first world war on the German front, I'm sure that it would tell a similar story but it would be another fascinating read I am sure.

I would highly recommend this book - it is well written, thoroughly researched and an addictive read.
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on 25 October 1998
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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on 23 November 2001
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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on 8 December 2012
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. It's easy to read, and i would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in the topic.
Amidst the mind-blowing numbers of casualties, and the headlines we all hear, this is a way to start hearing from the individuals, and to see the war from a slightly different perspective. Excellent stuff
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 December 2015
Most people's abiding image of the First World War VADs probably stems from Vera Brittain and her Testament of Youth. But there were many more Vera Brittains out there serving almost on the front lines of the war, thousands upon thousands of young, gently-bred girls who went from Edwardian drawing rooms and débutante balls and finishing schools, straight into the hell of the Western Front, volunteers all of them.

These girls more than rose (forgive the pun!) to the challenge, serving as ambulance drivers, in military hospitals in England, base hospitals in the rear of the lines, casualty clearing stations, aid stations. Sometimes the front overtook them, sometimes they refused to be evacuated when the lines shifted, and more than a few ended up prisoners of war. Some served on hospital ships sunk at sea and in harbours. Late in the war the Germans took to bombing hospitals from the air (arguments as to whether this was a deliberate policy or simply collateral damage due to their proximity to military camps and depot continue to this day). Life as a VAD in WW1 may not have been as dangerous as the fighting troops, but it was dangerous nonetheless, and several hundred young women lost their lives.

Lyn Macdonald gives those women and girls voices, interlacing her account of the medical history of WW1 with first-person accounts from survivors - nurses, soldiers, orderlies, civilians. These tales really give a sense of personality and immediacy to the narrative, making each and every individual a life, rather than a statistic. So often the losses of WW1 can seem so staggering, so overwhelming, that the individual stories behind each number get lost, the narrative bogged down in battle strategy and military minutiae. That is where this kind of historiobiography is so desperately needed, to remind subsequent generations that every one of those millions of dead had a story to tell, and the survivors too.
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