Mayhew, Emily: Wounded

Mayhew, Emily

Wounded: The Long Journey Home from the Great War, Random House, North Sydney, 2014; first published The Bodley Head, 2013; electronic version available; UK edition subtitled From Battlefield to Blighty 1914-1918

Wounded is the story of a journey: from injury on the battlefield to recovery in Britain. It is the story of the soldiers themselves, from the aid post in the trenches to the casualty clearing station in the rear, from the base hospital to the ambulance train returning them to Blighty. But it is also the story of those who cared for them – stretcher bearers and medical officers, surgeons and chaplains, nurses and ambulance drivers. People on the verge of collapse, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of casualties and terrible injuries who, with determination and improvisation, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Wounded is the story of the men and women who made it possible. (blurb)

There is a review by Joanna Burke in The Lancet and another by Grrlscientist in The Guardian and another by AW Purdue in the Times Higher Education Supplement.

The effect of the stories Mayhew has uncovered is overwhelming [says Burke], even distressing. She eloquently contributes to a wider literature that catalogues the horror of front-line surgery, with the heartbreaking demands of triage, the inescapable filth, and the nauseating mouse-like smell of gas gangrene. She provides touching vignettes that reveal the minutiae of everyday life in wartime: the importance of dry socks, the need to quench thirst, the struggle to provide clean linen, and the unbearable poignancy of being sent a slice of wedding cake from home.

The Random House promotional page quotes a number of other reviews, including this one: ‘”Fascinating”: Gun Mart’. The book is, of course, just as relevant to Australia and other belligerent countries as it is to Britain.

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