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Florence Nightingale: The Making of an Icon Hardcover – October 14, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374156654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374156657
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Among the eminent Victorians, the figure of Florence Nightingale threatens to eclipse the celebrity of all the rest. Daughter of middling privilege and heiress to a tradition of freethinking in political, religious, and social matters, the sickly little girl had a will of steel and an unconventional view of her gender’s potential. Determined to offer humanity great service, the cultivated young woman fixated on nursing, which in the mid-nineteenth century was a function strictly for lower-class servant girls. Nightingale applied considerable organizational talent and persuasive rhetoric to conquer institutional inertia and care for the Crimean War’s wounded, becoming a heroine to those struggling against an entrenched and incompetent aristocracy. The British press’ wildly popular pictorial broadsheets romanticized her as an angel of mercy. Insisting she never sought fame, Nightingale nevertheless became the most recognized woman in the empire save the queen herself. Nightingale applied scientific, statistically based principles to health service in general, extending her impact far beyond her time and bettering all humanity. Bostridge strips through the myth of the Lady with the Lamp, and his detailed but always compelling prose shows a remarkable woman struggling to overcome prejudice and incompetence to bring health back to soldiers’ broken bodies. Without diminishing Nightingale’s singular achievements, Bostridge documents how much her success relied on others’ support. --Mark Knoblauch


'It is hard to imagine how one might improve on Bostridge's masterly understanding' Sunday Times 'A masterly work, sympathetic but even-handed, and enormously enjoyable to read' New Statesman 'Perceptive and engrossing ... a fascinating portrait' History Today 'Compellingly authoritative' Evening Standard 'A biography that triumphs' Daily Mail 'Sympathetic and vivid ... Will not be superseded for generations to come' Telegraph 'A masterly achievement ... immensely readable' Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Richard Glenister on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not for the fainthearted, the 647 pages of Florence Nightengale by Mark Bostridge is a detailed account of the life and times of the heroine.
Florence herself can take the credit, or blame, for the size of the book because she left behind more than 200 volumes of her writings, including drafts, letters, reports and even scraps of papers. More is known about Florence than any other woman from the Victorian era.

Read this book and be inspired. Nurses are special people.

The era in the 1800's is landscaped by Bosteridge, drawing on the influences of religion, family life, culture and economic influences, many of which are mirrored in the financial meltdown of 2008. They had bank failures back in the 1800's; crop failures, and the poor struggling to exist. It is in this backdrop that Florence first moved to help those in need.

Florence is best known by the public for her Lady of the Lamp reputation earned in the Crimean War and while this defines her, that war experience was for a brief period of her 90 years life, 1854 to 1856. One third of the book deals with the Crimean action, the rest deals with an outstanding woman in troublemsome times. Florence was intelligent, well travelled, musically talented, forceful, determined and caring.

Bosteridge draws out her character and leaves us in no doubt we are dealing with an exceptional lady with the stamp of leadership.

On the subject of Florence's sexuality, the author is a little disappointing. Towards the end of his book he notes the several works about Florence, with the more modern views suggesting that she was lesbian. Her celibacy obviously drew attention and caused writers to wonder or assert.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Florence Nightingale was homeschooled to be a Victorian lady but chose instead to become a nurse - then an unsuitable profession for her class. Despite her widespread actions it's surprising to note this is the first major biography of Florence Nightingale in more than fifty years - and it uses much previously unpublished material to explore her world, from family papers to journals. A vivid biography of her life and times makes for a top pick for any lending library strong in either health history or biography.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joe Tye on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This biography is a great complement to those that have come before (among the best of which are those of Gil and Dossey) and highlights the many ways in which Florence Nightingale laid the foundations for the healthcare mission as we know it today. His book was instrumental in the research I did for my own book "The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership." Here are just a few highlights from the career of this extraordinary woman:

- With her classic book "Notes on Nursing," Nightingale presaged the home healthcare movement that must be an essential element of real healthcare reform in the years to come. It also influenced several generations of women to become nurses.

- She was the first and most influential advocate for the healthcare rights of soldiers and veterans - someone to whom a great debt is owed by every veteran on every continent.

- She was the first hospital epidemiologist, and for her work was the first woman ever made a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

- She was the first to implement the principle - taken for granted today - that medical triage would be based on the clinical needs of the patient, and not his rank in the military, social standing, or religion.

- Her work at the Scutari Barrack Hospital presaged virtually every major support department of the modern hospital: the first hospital medical records function, the first hospital-based pharmacy service, the first hospital nutrition service, the first hospital linen and housekeeping services, and she was even the first to number the beds in a ward.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gave this as a gift to a daughter of a dedicated nurse. It was greatly appreciated. Great history of an iconic figure.
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