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Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312226992
ISBN-10: 0312226993
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1854, Florence Nightingale sailed from England with 38 nurses, bound for the Scutari barracks in Constantinople and the Crimean War. Two years later, she returned a world figure: Queen Victoria sent her an inscribed brooch, and a public subscription raised over a million pounds to fund the training of hospital nurses. Then, at age 37, Nightingale collapsed and remained an invalid for ten years. Basing his study on extensive research into previously unpublished material, Small (a London-based management consultant) attributes Nightingale's collapse to her discovery that her well-publicized nursing efforts at Scutari had made no difference: "[She] had not been running a hospital. She had been running a death camp." The real culprits, he notes, were bad drains, overcrowding, and poor ventilation. Once past her distress, Nightingale moved to expose the government cover-up. This book should reestablish Nightingale as a major figure in 19th-century health reform. Recommended for scholarly collections and larger general collections.ADavid Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

For this new interpretation of a durably fascinating woman, Small draws especially from letters not included in the official Nightingale papers and not used by other biographers. Nightingale took to her bed for many years after her famous Crimean War service. Small argues that the reason for her invalidism was not neurosis but overwhelming guilt when Nightingale realized that 14,000 British soldiers had died in the wartime hospitals because doctors and nurses failed to practice elementary sanitary procedures that she should have enforced. Small makes a strong case for his argument and for Nightingale's belief in the germ theory of infection, a "modern" notion with which other biographers have said she did not go along. Small also shows that Nightingale did not publish her confidential report to the Royal Commission that looked into the hospital deaths. Meanwhile, he clearly describes Nightingale's relationships with major politicians and appropriately places the whole story in the Victorian context. He adds valuably to the voluminous literature on a remarkable woman. William Beatty

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (November 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312226993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312226992
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,871,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Oatcake on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I never knew much about Florence Nightingale beyond the basic schoolboy notion of a slightly spinsterish mega nurse. I liked this book. I also like statistics and quantitative graphics (although not so much the seemingly endless stream of drivelling infographics).

As to revisionism, as another reviewer mentioned, isn't all written history a series of rewrites and revisions? What's so great about hearing it from the horse's mouth (Marcus Aurelius), aren't they as 'weighted' as everyone else? Yes, of course some accounts are better than others, and I certainly can't tell here what the truth is/was here. Nevertheless I found the book thought-provoking in a way that wasn't tied to the person of Florence or the time period. For me it is about reality, circumstances, ignoring facts and expedient choices--and how all those elements circle around each other and intertwine. I wouldn't draw the same conclusions as the author, but so what?

In short: a good book on an interesting subject.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Brown on January 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hugh Small's account of Florence Nightingales contribution in the Crimean war has made rivoting reading. His willingness to answer some of the hitherto unasked questions using thorough and reliable research is to be commended. He challenges many of the romantic notions of Florence Nigfhtingale whilst preserving her reputation as a remarkable woman with great political influence.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Juliana LHeureux on September 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Inmy mind, this Nightingal biography is an extraordinary example of revisionism. Studying the professional career of the English heroine Florence Nightingale is mandatory in just about every accredited school of nursing because, after all, she gave respectability to her profession. Even Nightingale's mother would faint at the thought of her daughter being a "nurse", because respectable ladies in Victorian England just didn't do such things. Thankfully, Florence broke with her culture and created, what some would call, a new paradigm for women. Now, that's the way Florence Nightingale is presented to nursing students, but it's not the way author Hugh Small presents his argument in "Florence Nightingale: Avenging Angel". Well, of course, somebody had to break the myth of Florence Nightingale. As an icon of Victorian culture and style, Nightingale had to be taken down a peg or two. Never mind, the memorial to Nightingale located in the middle of a group of stuffy old coffins in the crypts in London's St. Paul's Cathedral. Never mind, the enormous statue honoring Nightingale and the memorial to the Crimea, nearly causing traffic jams at the intersection where it is boldly located in downtown London. Never mind, the Nightingale Museum and its life sized display of three demensional shadow boxes located adjacent to St. Thomas Hospital in London. If the real Nightingale would please stand up, as Hugh Small describes her in his biography, the lady's myth would be on trail right now for genocide, having caused the deaths of thousands of British soilders in the 1856 Crimean War.Read more ›
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Format: Print on Demand (Paperback) Verified Purchase
Scholarly. Author's research alerts readers of facts unknown nor readily acceptable to some readers.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luis Orozco on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
For the first time a well documented point of view of Florence as a human being, with all its implications.
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