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Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) [Kindle Edition]

Scott Mcgaugh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Battlefield Angels historian Scott McGaugh pays homage to the thousands of medics, hospital corpsmen, and battlefield nurses, doctors, surgeons who have provided succor and healing to the more than 40 million warriors who have served in America’s armed forces since the nation’s founding.

McGaugh tells the story of Jonathan Letterman, a Union surgeon during the Civil War who is considered the father of American combat medicine. Letterman designed the first battlefield evacuation system after an unprepared medical corps at Bull Run left thousands of soldiers to die in the place where they were wounded. We also learn about Wheeler Lipes, a young navy corpsman and submariner with minimal medical training who on September 11, 1942, conducted the first-ever appendectomy at sea. And, we hear the story of Pfc. Monica Brown, the young army medic who was awarded the Silver Star for rescuing fellow soldiers from a disabled Humvee during an ambush in the Paktika province of Eastern Afghanistan in 2007. Brown is only the second woman in sixty years to receive the prestigious award. Through these stories and many others, McGaugh traces the captivating evolution of battlefield care, from the Revolutionary War to today's battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Battlefield Angels captures "in-the-trenches moments" during which medics and corpsmen fought to save the lives of their comrades.  Along the way, readers will learn the fascinating history of battlefield medicine and how it has benefited both military and civilian medical practice throughout American history. McGaugh also looks ahead to the future, where telemedicine and robotic surgery promise to transform the battlefield once again. In the end, Battlefield Angels both chronicles and pays homage to the men and women in arms who fight every day to save the lives of their fellow soldiers, sailors, and marines.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


"While one facet of war focuses on killing, McGaugh describes the other war against infections, disease, shock, blood loss, combat, operational stress reaction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes the selfless individuals who risk their own lives to save others." -San Francisco Book Review (November 2011)

Battlefield Angels propels the reader into an alien world of horrific wounds, unimaginable living conditions, and profound responsibility borne by young men and women only a few years past high school. It is a world where corpsmen and medics have lived for hundreds of years.”
–RADM Riley Mixson, USN (ret.), Former Director of Air Warfare for Chief of Naval Operations, USN
“While Battlefield Angels captures the progress of military medicine, it is the story of individual medics and corpsmen saving lives at acute risk that will haunt and inspire the reader long after he or she has passed this fascinating read on to a friend.”
–Richard Setlowe, screenwriter, journalist, military author of The Black Sea and The Brink
“When most people think of war they think of the men who fight, not the countless thousands who have treated their wounds and saved their lives. Those of us who have been wounded on the battlefield cherish their sacrifice and bravery. We know how remarkable they are.”
–Jeff Roy, Ph.D., National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart
“Since this nation’s birth, American fighting men and women have faced countless wars and conflicts. At their side have been medics and corpsmen, usually unarmed but for their medical bags. Battlefield Angels is the perfect description of these heroes and McGaugh has done a masterful job of telling the story of the bravest of the brave.”
–Jan K. Herman, Historian if the Navy Medical Department, USN  
“Military medicine not only represents medical science advancements and heroism under fire, it also reflects the increasing role of women in uniform. From nursing in the Civil War to the all-volunteer force in the post-Vietnam era to Army medic Monica Brown’s Silver Star in Afghanistan, Battlefield Angels is a riveting account of both the people and progress of saving lives under fire.”
–RADM Veronica (Ronne) Froman, USN (ret.)

"The writing is riveting. The profiles of those in the medical corps are compelling. The photo sections are equally moving." -North County Times

"Scott McGaugh has written a fantastic book on the history of the American military medical system ... You can’t help coming away stunned at the achievements of the frontline military corpsmen and medical teams, and this book is a much deserved homage to their service." -David A. Galli, Civil War News

About the Author

Scott McGaugh is a veteran journalist and the author of Midway Magic (CDS/Perseus) and Midway Memories, an historic photo essay self-published for visitors to the USS Midway Museum. Midway Magic is in its second edition; Midway Memories in its third ( Midway Magic became the basis for a History Channel program, "Hero Ship: The USS Midway," featuring the author. McGaugh is the marketing director of the USS Midway Museum (, which in two years became the most-visited floating ship museum in the world. Television appearances have included the History Channel, Travel Network, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, FOX Network, and Australia's Today Show. Scott makes four to eight public speeches monthly and travels regularly on behalf of the museum. He also is a seasoned marketing communications professional with 24 years of experience with particular emphasis in public relations and promotions. He has held increasingly responsible positions with three of San Diego's leading marketing communications firms and also co-owned one of San Diego's foremost public relations agencies.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1762 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1849085153
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005899TJQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,510 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and informative! November 4, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is just great. I am in Army ROTC and I want to become a Physician's Assistant (Officer level combat medic and hospital assistant) in the Army once I commission. This book only reinforced my hope of becoming one with it's inspiring stories of some of the most amazing men and women in warfare - the doctors, nurses, and battlefield medics. Not only was I inspired by their stories of heroism and fearless professionalism, I learned a lot about the advances of medicine and military medicine, and it was a book that I just could not put down! I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book March 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Serving as a Hospital Corpsman in the early 1990's, this book is an actual account of just how high the cost of war is on the battlefield and on the hospital ship's I served on and the Trauma calls I ran along with the Naval Hospital I served in. Highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this IS riveting .... September 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
yeah , a bit descriptive , but DANG !! its war , however and one cannot explain the PURPOSE of the book without CONTEXT . the title says it , but more , FAR MORE is inside . being a NYS EMT in past i have some knowledge and experience and found this FASCINATING so far . i'm reading about 6 kindle books at once :o) . IF you're one of those with mind images , this book can build the base for even mental images of what the author is describing ; GOOD WORK .
i'm not done reading yet and do believe i can safely say ; interested ?? BUY IT !!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. September 10, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well worth reading. I bought this for my Kindle and was delighted with it. It's about nurses in wartime. Any nurse who thinks that modern hospitals have tough conditions to work in, should read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battlefield Angels November 28, 2011
By lpgator
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very informative and a good history of medics and corpsmen. Sent a hard copy to my retired Marine brother-in-law who was wounded Vietnam .
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice try September 6, 2011
By wpapac
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished this book and found it very informative on individual acts of heroism as examples of the military medical persons in our history. I did like how the author added at the end of each chapter, updates on the medical improvements from each conflict. I am a Physician Assistant and am retired after 32 yrs Army service 17 were as a PA with 4 tours of Iraq one in Desert Storm as an enlisted medic in a MASH hospital and the the last 3 as a PA. On the down side the book needed better fine tuning. He had a navy corpsman in the 5th Marine Div in Viet Nam when he probably ment 5th Rgt. At that time there was only the 1st, 2d and 3rd MAR Div on duty and only the 1st and 3rd were in Viet Nam. He had PAs on an emergency team on the USS Foresstal in 1967 when they did not exist until the 1970s. The chapter on the PTSD was fine until he brought up the famous army medic who tragically OD'd. I knew and spoke with men in that unit since I was assigned there prior to the war. The medic was the platoon leader's driver since he arrived as a replacement and the teams were established. The kid was wandering in and out of a safe triage area and he was told to get the kid out of there then the pictures started and the fable was started. He was just getting an unwounded kid out of the way and the press embellished it to the hilt! There are many heroes of the last wars he missed probably due to publishing dates. The history was illuminating to the uninformed and the addiditonal information was a nice touch. When I went to war in 1990-91, we had medical gear left over from Viet Nam. Our surgeons had no training on this archaic stuff. In 2003-2009 when I went over again, I saw a huge swing to getting the newest and best to the field quickly. Unfortunatly, vendors provided some gimmicks that were bought in haste and were junk. Most were of good use and saved lives. I do agree with the author's premise that unfortunatly, wars do advance medical treatments.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battlefield Angels March 14, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For history and medicine buffs this was a very interesting look at the history of the medical corps from the Revolutionary War thru our current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review of Battlefield Angels. November 14, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Graphic. What else could a close-up, detailed look at battlefield medicine possibly be? No punches pulled here. During the Civil War anesthesia was either new and crude or non-existent. Think of the term "bite the bullet" when your leg is being sawed off and the person performing that procedure has little to offer to alleviate the incredible pain. McGaugh takes the reader through the lessons learned from the heartbreak of Valley Forge right on into our longest and still ongoing conflict...Afghanistan. Many doctors were Medal of Honor winners and rightly so. Under fire and understaffed but few, if any, retreated from the terrible tasks facing them. It's all here...the smells of the battlefield dead...the stench. Eight pages of photographs underline the realities of war. One reader called our medics "the bravest of the brave." Indeed. Go for it. Don Blair, Venice, Florida
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift.
Bought as a gift for WWII navy pharmacist mate - it was well received as the Pacific was well documented in the book.
Published 1 month ago by Steve Chilcote
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, very informative and well written
Great read,very informative and well written!!
Published 2 months ago by shelley mcgirr
5.0 out of 5 stars Angels in Truth
These are the front line medics, the corpsmen (and women) in heroic conditions putting the safety of self aside and accomplishing the nearly impossible. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Leland Snead
5.0 out of 5 stars War veterans will want to read.....
A great overview of our corpsmen and medics....having been a warrior in Vietnam, I can vouch for the term "angel."
Published 8 months ago by ROBERT J. WELLS
5.0 out of 5 stars awsome book
So much information and so well written. I've read it twice just because it was such a good book and I'm not usually a info/history book type of person. Great read
Published 11 months ago by jewellrevluc
5.0 out of 5 stars The best war history book I've ever read
People see war movies or read war history books to learn their cruelty and political meanings, but Battlefield Angel gives you a totally new perspective - a perspective of the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Medical Corps and leaps in care
This book was really interesting. I am a nurse and was in the Army at one time. So I understood the idea of the medical corpsman in the field and the concept of battlefield care. Read more
Published 14 months ago by susan b skolochenko
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This was not what I thought it would be. I expected a story, and instead it is statistics. I did learn a lot from it, but it just wasn't what I had hoped it would be. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Janice W. Parfitt
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted More
I especially like how the author told the story through individual corpsmen but was hoping for something more in depth. Read more
Published 15 months ago by K T
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This book serves as a means to honor the sacrifices of so many. As a former Corpsman, I fully appreciated the historical look at the military medical advances. Read more
Published 16 months ago by BT Yates
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