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Blood on China Beach: My Story as a Brain Surgeon in Vietnam Paperback – November 21, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (November 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1475959435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1475959437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,857,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul J. Pitlyk, MD, earned bachelor of science, master of science and doctor of medicine degrees, is a retired Navy Captain and is currently retired from neurosurgery. Pitlyk and his wife, Nicole, have two grown children and live in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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God bless you all!
Marie L. Tate
Great insight into the realities of war and how it changed one surgeon's perspective on his profession.
Mary K Franks
The book was well written and easy to read, if you can handle the gory details.
Norbert A. Groppe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Cronin on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful book, powerful and moving, worthwhile reading and easy to read.

A surgeon tells in his own words what it was like to step out of residency in neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic to find himself less than a year later operating on a Marine on a picnic table in a tent in DaNang. This experience marked the beginning of a journey that spanned twelve months with the Marines in the beginning years of the Vietnam War.

Though depicting a war four decades removed , the book brings home in a fresh way the operating room under combat conditions where danger and incoming mortars were ever present for the medical team who, thrown together by war, had to form their own team and ably so. They had to put personalities aside. However, once out of the operating room they emerged with their own individual personalities in humorous and serious ways all mixed together. Then there was life outside the "Concertina" ( barb wire) too that took them into DaNang, most often to help children and adults at a civilian hospital. And yes there was a "Dragon Lady" to trade with for needed medical supplies and a Corpsman whom 'you never asked where he got that from', and once the author snuck him off base in an ambulance for a party in DaNang that had some Army Nurses present and he the only enlisted man included.

The neurosurgeon's narrative would have stumbled if the author had tried to venture forth on what it was like for an injured Marine who was ferried into China Beach for surgery or the Vietnamese peasants who lived daily with the conflict. For that a reader has to go elsewhere on Amazon or to other sources.

Life and death in the operating room was a given, no getting away from it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dorothea Travis on February 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Blood on China Beach
My Story as a Brain Surgeon in Vietnam
Paul J. Pitlyk, MD
Reviewer: D. Travis & Joan Claire

BLOOD ON CHINA BEACH: MY STORY AS A BRAIN SURGEON IN VIETNAM is the story of one man's experience working to save lives in an environment where lives are lost so easily. Dr. Paul J. Pitlyk shares honestly with his readers the physical and emotional complexities and challenges that faced him and the medical staff at Charlie Med, a mobile hospital similar to the MASH unit in Korea. After several months at Charlie Med he was transferred to a forward marine hospital in the jungle near Da Nang.

Pitlyk draws his reader inside the tent that served as the OR. The marines brought to the hospital by helicopter came immediately from the field. After emergency surgery they were flown to another hospital hours away. Neurosurgery is always difficult surgery but under such dire conditions as described in the book, the emergency surgery at the marine hospital was monumental. Without immediate attention, many marines would have lost their lives. Pitlyk speaks of operating on a picnic table when no space in the tent was available. He operated without the instruments that were standard at hospitals in the United States. The level of detail and realism is one of the strengths of the writer.

The day he was leaving Da Nang he reminisces "gone were so many of the other people I'd met at Charlie Med and at China Beach who played a part in my transformation. Life had given me a window of time to know, like and respect these men, with their diverse characters, their cohesive cooperative abilities, and their rigid adherence to respect for mankind."

Pitlyk did not see himself as a hero.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Smith on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A different perspective on the real cost of war. This is an unbiased factual account of one man's time in Vietnam told from a unique perspective. A lot of men in their fifties and sixties owe their lives to the author. The author, a brilliant and humble man, paints a picture of a rough time in our country's history. It's hard to find books like this that don't want to further a position about the war. This book is not anti-military, anti-war, or anti-peace. We will each read this book and reach our own conclusions based on our own perspective.

This book is well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kent Humphrey on February 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A straightforward account of one man's journey from self-doubt toward a deeper understanding of his unique abilities in a demanding profession. Delivered in workmanlike fashion, this memoir places us in the middle of a situation that few can imagine. You'll be left with a sense of how deeply the author appreciates his experience and an unending admiration for the soldiers he served. Highly recommended for anyone interested in combat hospitals of the Vietnam era.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marie L. Tate on February 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I never put this book down once I began reading. What an amazing journey Dr. Pitlyk shares with us. This book is an honest account of one surgeon's life and reflects the true human cost of war. Yet, there were times throughout the book that I laughed out loud and other moments that brought me to tears.

Thank you to Dr Pitlyk and all of our Vietnam Vets. We will not forget your sacrifices. God bless you all!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JoAnn Z C on April 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Very honest very truthful I would not normally read a war story but could not put this one down thank you Paul
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