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Civil War Hospital Sketches
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
These are dispatches home from Jo -- no doubt about who could have written these.

They are interesting in the sense of a young person's first impressions of illness, injury, death, and war. Not to mention, life in the south through the eyes of a Bostoner. Very few letters -- she didn't last long before a fever got her -- but very interesting. The gentlemanly behavior described, the ladylike behavior -- all of it in Jo's style of writing. Great!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book was short and gave some insight, but was a little disappointing since I had just finished reading Civil War Nurse: The Diary and Letters of Hannah Ropes. Both Louisa May Alcott and Hannah Ropes were assigned to the same hospital. Hannah Ropes' book is more in depth with the day-to-day details and her feelings than Hospital Sketches. Louisa May Alcott's book makes you think it was written specifically for a certain reading audience in mind and was found lacking in some respects.

(signed LAS)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As part of my Civil War reading, I am trying to mix it up between fiction (contemporary and historical), non-fiction, memoir, war and social issues. For my last book of 2012, I read Louisa May Alcott's collection of newspapers articles she wrote about her time as a Civil War nurse in Washington, D.C. in December 1862 and January 1863.

LMA only served as a nurse for three weeks, but this brief service changed her life profoundly. Of this time, she said that she was rarely ill before it and never truly well afterwards. She had contracted typhus at the hospital and was treated with a compound containing mercury, which wreaked havoc on her body and most probably shortened her life. On the other hand, her time as a nurse on her own in a city far from her Concord home during the war broadened her vision and deepened her perspective.

In typical Victorian lady fashion, LMA assumes the guise of Tribulation Periwinkle who then provides a first-person account of LMA's own experiences--deciding to join the nursing core, traveling alone by train to Washington, living in a boarding house, working in a hospital (she tended the wounded from the battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 11-15, 1862). The latter encompasses so much--the men themselves, some old but most heart-breakingly young--she held their hands as they died, read them letters from home, and wrote their final goodbyes, comforted their loved ones--she dressed wounds, assisted surgeons, fed and cleaned and comforted, and then finally fell ill herself.

At first the persona of Trib grated a bit--basically Jo March on steroids. Too boisterous, too flip, too hale and hearty, but as LMA went deeper into hospital life, the voice matured and by the end of this short book, only 73 pages, I had come to admire LMA's warm and elegant expressions that transcended pathos.

As a primary source for Civil War nursing, it is exceptional in its realistic but respectful look at the price of war. As a look at the young woman who "became" Louisa May Alcott, beloved American author, it is priceless--it provides a concentrated view of LMA, reflecting her values (home, hearth, family, compassion, racial equality, gender equality, and duty).

I liked Little Women just fine, but I must say that I loved this collection of sketches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a nurse and a lover of history, I can't recommend this highly enough. It is so interesting to read of nursing during the civil war. It is fascinating to meet a side of Ms Alcott than one encounters in her other books.As a gift, it also delighted my elderly father and a European friend who is studying American literature.
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on February 21, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I read this because it was by Louisa May Alcott, and the first part of the book is all clever word play and fun, however when she gets to the hospital things take a turn for the worse.

Not only is it unimaginably sad to hear about the wounds of the soldiers and the lack of available medical knowledge in those days, it seems that the hospital in which she labored was incredibly badly organized and run. She never names the place.

The stories brought tears to my eyes, naturally. But it was inspiring that she tried to help. In not too much time her health was ruined and her father had to come and take her home.

A short, poignant tale.
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on December 7, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Fresh and compelling, this short novelette was drawn from Louisa May Alcott's short stint as a hospital nurse during the Civil War. It's delivered with a strong dose of Victorian morality and Victorian prose style, but Alcott's experiences are vividly recorded. So is her sympathy for the wounded and with the African Americans she meets. This is the Civil War as seen through a distinctly New England view, strongly abolitionist and strongly moralistic, but also practical, self-reliant, and positive. I only wish there was more about the hospital. One thing that jumped out at me was the central character's familiarity with death; she is only thirty, but she says she has already been called to several deathbeds. The Victorians may have been repressed, but they knew a lot more about the facts of life than we do.
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Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is Alcott as one knows her with her sense of humor and also the seriousness of the subject. She is a woman who wants to help and has the gumption in that era to do in what she believes. One sees the inside of the Civil War hospital and the importance of women to the men wounded and others dying.
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on March 15, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Who would expect the letters dashed off inthemidst of the startling horrors of war to be so touchingly written with humor and grace. No wonder she awakened the country to the horrors of hospitals and the reality of death in 1863.
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on April 25, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A fascinating summary of Alcott's brief stint as a Civil War nurse in Washington, taken from newspaper articles she wrote at the time.
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on December 19, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Civil war has many sides. From Lousia's viewpoint it was a personal tragedy for her and the men she cared for. A must read for anyone.
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