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And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II Paperback – November 9, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee, two former military nurses who have co-written previous books about American nurses in World War II Japan and Albania, have collaborated again to produce this popular account of the Army nurses who served in the war against Germany. Based on interviews, correspondence and diaries, as well as on published sources and archival material, this book employs a descriptive, matter of fact style that makes a nice foil to its vivid use of reconstructed dialogue and primary source quotations. Though the book is divided into chapters that recount individual campaigns (e.g. "Chapter 5: Nurses in the Sicilian Campaign," "Chapter 6: The Sinking of the HMHS Newfoundland"), Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee do follow the experiences of several nurses throughout their history, bringing a narrative cohesion to what might have otherwise been a fragmented series of anecdotes. Particularly fascinating are their graphic descriptions of medical conditions, like gangrene and malaria, and of hospital procedures, such as the then-cutting-edge operation of transfusing whole blood into wounded soldiers. Though the extensive background material explaining battles and campaigns can sometimes threaten to swamp the narrative, overall this volume provides a valuable account of an often-neglected historical topic: the frontline experience of the women of the Greatest Generation.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Their valor was unrivaled, their patriotism undeniable, but their contribution to the war effort was largely unacknowledged. Long before there were women in the military, flying sorties and commanding tanks as they do today, there were women in combat zones: more than 59,000 voluntarily served their country as U.S. Army nurses during World War II. Yet their story has seldom been told, for no veterans groups nor military bureaucracy ever claimed them. Witness to the abominations of the war's most gruesome battles, from the D-Day invasion of North Africa to the triumphant V-E Day defeat of Nazi Germany, they endured the horrors of the battlefield alongside their GI counterparts, eluding death by sheer luck and split-second timing. Forced to work under primitive conditions with insufficient supplies, they nonetheless tended soldiers' physical and psychological injuries with unflagging grace and unwavering dedication. Battle by battle, in vivid, newsreel-like fashion, the authors dramatically portray the heroic efforts of courageous women who experienced the war at its most horrific and heartrending levels. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (November 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140003129X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400031290
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Carole A. Mauro on April 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have wanted to write this review since I finished "And If I Perish", but, quite frankly, I did not know how to start. As a lifelong reader, a woman of a "certain age" and an English teacher, I must have read thousands of books over the years. This one is, quite simply, the best book I have ever read. One of the jacket cover comments uses the word, masterpiece, that barely describes it.
The authors have done a magnificent job of weaving a seamless saga from the early days of WW II in North Africa, up through Italy and France and into Berlin. While I have read many books that chronicle the experiences of several people it was always difficult to keep them straight without a great deal of re-reading. Not so with these nurses, they are all recalled with no effort at all. While this is in no doubt due to Monahan & Neidel-Greenlee's formidable talents as authors, it is also because of these incredible nurses themselves. They were all of the things their daughters demonstrated about. They were brave, dedicated, self-reliant, tough, funny, compassionate, smart and inspiring. I am in awe of every one of them. They stand among the greats of the Greatest generation.
Monahan and Niedel-Greenlee have done us all a great service by telling this story. Thank you both.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By L. Mayes on March 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely well written and interesting book, covering a part of America's World War II history which has been sadly neglected. Almost half of the 59,000 female nurses who volunteered for the US Armed Forces during WWII served overseas. During the course of the conflict approximately 1600 of these nurses were decorated for their actions, receiving Distinguished Service Medals, Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, among other awards. More than 70 of these nurses were captured and 217 died of injuries and illness, 16 as the result of enemy action. The authors spent over a decade tracking down surviving nurses and their friends and families in order to compile this well documented, personal and most entertaining book. Several of the key figures are followed from their recruitment before and during the early stages of the war throughout the entire North African and European campaigns. The rich detail and often tragic first-person accounts of landing with the Allies, particularly in North Africa, and the hard learned lessons of American unpreparedness for war are told with stark straight forwardness by those who participated. The authors have professionally woven in the larger strategic backdrop, along with significant tactical explanations, in a manner that tells the reader how the nurses and their various hospitals fit into the bigger scheme of the war. The nurses come alive through their narration, putting a very human face on horrific living and working conditions as their units keep close to the combatants. The portion of the book dealing with the nurses' struggles on the Anzio beachhead brings into sharp focus their absolute dedication to their profession under the most extreme of circumstances.Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Anne Sirman on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If history had been taught like this when I was in school, I might have become an historian instead of a nurse. AND IF I PERISH makes it very clear that history is alive with wonderful stories and heroes yet unsung. I thank Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee for writing a book that is meticulous in the facts it presents, and thoroughly enjoyable as a good read----a combination not often found in books dealing with historical subjects. I hope these two authors will grace us with many more books in the future. As for AND IF I PERISH, it should be designated a national treasure and read by every American. It belongs in every library and on the bookshelves of every home. Once I began reading, I could not put it down. Wonderful, Wonderful!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Scheppler on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
My mother was a nurse in the 95th Evacuation Hospital, one of the units featured in this book. Though she was not interviewed, she's the nurse on the left in the photo of two nurses and a doctor in the OR. They're wearing scrubs and she's got a mask on, but it's her! I thought I knew all of her stories inside and out, but reading this book I realized how humble she was in the telling. When I read about the hospital ship being bombed and the constant shelling at Anzio, the fact that she survived amazed me. I cried when I read about the 95th's tour of duty at Dachau Concentration Camp because I couldn't -- and still can't imagine -- what it must have been like. In recent years, the focus on WWII nurses' experiences has sharpened. My mother has been interviewed for newspaper articles and the archives in D.C. I don't think women have been given nearly enough credit for service in our nations' wars, but it's about time. This book could have been called Band of Sisters. To this day, my mother is uncomfortable with the label "hero," but she's mine. To "Smitty," "VJ," "Slem," and "Wells," I salute you.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gary L. Borkowski on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
My Mom was in the Army Nurse Corps in the EAME Theatre and received 4 Bronze Service Stars and 5 O/S Service bars during her military service. I was always interested to know what experiences she had, however she was reluctant to speak of those memories. After reading this book, I can understand why. "And If I Perish" is a great read to help one understand the dedication of the women of World War II and what they had to endure.
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