From Publishers Weekly
Former newspaper columnist Welch (The Things That Matter Most) presents a detailed biography of a World War II army nurse for whom death and fame came nearly simultaneously. Frances Slanger was a shy, bookish woman who worked tirelessly to care for wounded soldiers. In June 1944, she was one of the first nurses to wade ashore on Normandy beach. One night, she wrote a letter in praise of her American G.I. charges, which was published in the military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes. Hundreds of soldiers wrote to thank her for the letter, not knowing that she had been killed by enemy fire within hours of posting it. Welch carefully traces the major events of Slangers life: from her childhood in World War I Poland, where she suffered because she was Jewish, to her coming of age in Boston, where she decided, against her parents wishes, to become a nurse so she could serve her adopted country and help stop the spread of Nazism in Europe. Thanks to her famous letter, Slanger received many posthumous honors, including having a warship named for her, but Welchs biography is the first extended account of her life. The book is at its best when describing the conditions of the army field hospital where Slanger worked. It is less assured when recounting Slangers experiences before she entered the army, and the authors conceit of switching back and forth between the two time periods is needlessly confusing. Nonetheless, Slangers life offers a stirring story of intense personal devotion and, despite its somewhat pedestrian prose, this book should be appreciated by WWII buffs, as well as those interested in womens history.
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This is an account of the first American army nurse to die on the Normandy front. A few days before she was killed, she had written a letter to the Stars and Stripes,
a tribute to the soldiers she had helped to live--and die. It began, "They are brought in bloody, dirty, with the earth, mud, and grime, and most of them so tired. Somebody's brother, somebody's father, and somebody's son." The day after it was printed, she died when the Germans shelled the Forty-Fifth Field Hospital Unit. She never knew that she had stirred the hearts of thousands of soldiers and their families. Welch searched for the woman who had written that letter, helped by one of the few surviving nurses of the unit. In writing her story, he has also given us a picture of the Jewish neighborhoods of Boston in the 1920s and 1930s, nursing school and hospital work in the 1930s, and the training and responsibilities of army nurses at the front. This is not only a heartwarming story for all ages, but it is also especially recommended for young people. Frieda MurrayCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved