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Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57 Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805078606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805078602
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reporter Weisskopf, at 58, was accompanying a patrol in Baghdad in 2003 when he picked up a grenade that flew into his Humvee. This book relates the consequences, beginning with a detailed account of a medic's emergency treatment of Weisskopf's shattered hand, his speedy transport to an aid station, helicopter flight to a front-line hospital, flight to the trauma center in Germany and, finally, to amputee Ward 57 of Washington's Walter Reed Hospital. Readers quickly learn that amputees make up 3% of Iraq's wounded—twice that of previous wars—thanks to the Kevlar helmets and sturdy body armor that protect all but the soldier's limbs from otherwise fatal explosions. Besides recounting his own successful recovery from the trauma of losing a hand, Weisskopf adds stories of three American soldiers who also endured months of torment before adjusting to new lives, though they were not necessarily typical. Other patients mentioned in passing do very badly. Pain is universal; many amputees suffer numerous operations and take narcotics for years. Modern prostheses are ingenious but heavy and difficult to use. Readers with a low tolerance for inspirational stories will still find plenty of technical and medical details of one tragic, little-publicized consequence of the Iraq war. (Oct. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Prizewinning Time reporter Weisskopf went to Iraq embedded with the First Armored Division. One day he picked up a strange object from the bottom of his vehicle--and woke up with his right hand missing. His next journey was to Ward 57, the amputee ward, of Walter Reed Hospital. He skillfully depicts his own experiences and those of his wardmates, making it clear that even today amputation entails a particularly acute form of post--traumatic stress disorder, to say nothing of the physical pain involved, and having to learn all over again to use the muscles of more than the affected limb. Nor, even in an era when each casualty can be given painstaking care, is Walter Reed, the army's flagship hospital, free of red tape and personnel who--and this is putting it delicately--lack a bedside manner. This thoroughly distinguished addition to the literature on the Iraq War adds further distinction to Weisskopf's career, which he plans to continue to the best of his remaining abilities. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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A very well written book.
T. McGraw
Thank you, Mr. Weisskopf, for a wonderfully touching story.
James R. Shemwell
I plan on passing this book around.
Deborah M. Bickford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Sue73 on October 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
With great insight and compassion, Michael Weisskopf brings us the stories of the amputees of this generation's wars. Weisskopf himself lost his dominant hand while embedded with soldiers in Iraq in preparation for Time's 2003 Person of the Year edition. He picked up a grenade that landed in his vehicle and awoke to a whole new life: Ward 57 of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

But while Weisskopf weaves himself throughout Blood Brothers, describing his his own healing and attempts to regain his journalistic "objectivity," he is not the central figure. Instead, he vividly paints the portraits of three fellow-travelers in Ward 57, soldiers who must come to terms with the physical and psychological impacts of losing a limb. In powerful but matter-of-fact, news-like prose, the reader is introduced to Before and After, and taken along for the gut-wrenching journey in between as wounded warriors (along with their loved ones and care-givers) tackle the mountain that is physical and psychological recovery from amputation.

Blood Brothers is the kind of book that will put you through the emotional wringer, but you won't want to put down. You'll laugh when the wounded-but-fiery Army sergeant and the Marine physical therapist get into a verbal pissing match, and cry when you read of heroic medics or the pain of the residents of Ward 57; other times you'll want to throw something against the wall as you see a need that isn't addressed or stand up and cheer when a physical milestone is reached.

It's all there: the horror and the beauty, the heights and the depths, the illusory achievements and the real milestones.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Teixeira on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this book over the course of one weekend, it was that good. The book gets to the heart of what our severely wounded veterans face from the exact time of the injury on the battlefield to the care they receive in our military hospitals, to their day to day recovery, relationships with their families and how they cope with the loss of not only a limb but in some cases, their whole identity. This book made me realize how much they really do lose and sacrifice to defend this country no matter where or when. I have a new appreciation for the true heroes of our day, the men and women of our military, especially the heroes who lose limbs in the line of duty.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When discussing war we are often most interested in how many died in battle. I suppose that this gives us some sense of how ferocious and large the fighting was and how much was sacrificed for the cause. We also discuss the number of casualties. This includes the wounded. The range of wounds is large. Some are completely debilitating, but recoverable long term. Others remove the soldier from the battlefield only temporarily. Some are amputations of limbs or the destruction of organs in the field of battle or lead to amputations in order to save the soldier's life.

Battlefield medicine has improved since the Civil War and especially since Vietnam. The concept of evacuating the wounded quickly and treating them within the "Golden Hour" led to much greater survivability. Now emergency medical personal talk about the platinum ten minutes. This implies that what would have been fatal wounds because of the severity of injury in prior conflicts now allow the soldier to survive, but with severe physical deficits including missing hands, feet, legs, arms, and even severe brain trauma.

Michael Weisskopf is a reporter for Time magazine (not to be confused with Michael Isikoff of Newsweek) who took an assignment embedded with troops in Iraq. On one ride in an open vehicle a smoldering grenade landed in the back of the truck. Weisskopf says he remembers the feeling of his hand being burned as he picked up the grenade and nothing else. He describes what he can recall and what he learned about his evacuation and treatment. Eventually, the Pentagon allowed him to be treated in Ward 57, the special place where the hundreds of amputees from the War on Terror are treated and given rehabilitation treatment.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on October 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a fantastic book. Michael Weisskopf was a journalist who went to Iraq to cover stories from Iraq firsthand, but in a cruel twist of fate became an amputee himself when a grenade went off. He lost his hand and it compelled him to write a book about his ordeal and the challenges that soldiers who are also amputees face after the war.

He went over to Iraq in December 2003 to profile American soldiers (writing for Time). He was travelling in a convoy in the back of an open Humvee when a grenade landed in the back where he was sitting. He instinctivly went to throw it out when it went off. With his right hand he threw it and it felt like a lava rock because it must have exploded just as he picked it up. By throwing the grenade away, he actually saved his life and the lives of those who he was travelling with.

He wound up at Walter Reid army medical center in Washington DC to recover - the only journalist wounded in combat who was given that privilege. Ward 57 is the ward for amputees and now he was sharing time with them recovering. He chronicles his own time recovering and also writes about the struggles of three soldiers also getting over their injuries. He wants us as readers to understand that the fighting doesn't end when you come back home - it can be an ongoing struggle mentally and obviously physically.

It's a fascinating book that should be a must read so we can appreciate what it is that troops are doing for their country and the sacrifices they make to be there. He also talks about his recovery with his family and the impact it had on them and his career. It is a brilliant book that I read in record time (so interesting I couldn't put it down) and I highly highly recommend it.
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