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Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care 1st Edition

32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1611458398
ISBN-10: 1611458390
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Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care + Medical Recollections of the Army of the (Civil War) + Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“McGaugh provides military history buffs, particularly those interested in military medicine, with a well-rounded picture of a man who greatly influenced our delivery of medical care for wounded warriors.” (Library Journal)

“McGaugh provides telling details within a concise narrative to give Letterman's personal story the context necessary for appreciating his influence . . . By following Letterman from one bloody battle to another, McGaugh's well-researched book adds a sobering tone to the 150th anniversary of a conflict that advanced medical care at a terrible cost.
” (Associated Press)

“In addition to being an incisive portrait of the great doctor and leader, McGaugh’s history is a testament to the brave men to whom Letterman dedicated his life.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A nicely crafted biography that also offers Civil War buffs an unusual ambulance-wagon view of the great conflict.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“As medical director of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, Jonathan Letterman made important innovations in the battlefield evacuation and treatment of wounded men that changed the history of military medicine. With sensitivity and insight, Scott McGaugh presents the story of this fascinating figure and his legacy, which has saved uncounted thousands of lives of soldiers wounded in many wars.
” (James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom)

Surgeon in Blue is a meticulously researched, totally fascinating narrative of Dr. Jonathan Letterman’s pioneering of modern battlefield medicine in the midst of the nightmare carnage of the Civil War. Scott McGaugh’s extraordinary work of military history documents a life-saving legacy that still echoes through Iraq and Afghanistan.
” (Richard Setlowe, author of The Experiment and The Haunting of Suzanna Blackwell)

“There was not a day during WWII that I did not thank God for Jonathan Letterman. He was truly a surgeon for the soldiers.” (Major General Paul R. Hawley, Chief Surgeon, European Theater of Operations)

About the Author

Scott McGaugh, the marketing director of the USS Midway Museum, is a veteran journalist and the author of Battlefield Angels and several books on the USS Midway. His television appearances include the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and Fox TV, and he gives public speeches and travels regularly for the museum.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1 edition (July 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611458390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611458398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Scott McGaugh is the founding (2004) marketing director of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. He has played a key role in making the Midway the most-visited historic naval ship museum in America. A former journalist, he has written 3 books on the USS Midway; another about heroic medics and corpsmen; a biography of Owen Wister, the novelist who created the America's western (book & movie) genre; and a New York Times bestselling biography, Surgeon in Blue, about the Civil War surgeon who created the ambulance and triage concepts that are the cornerstone of all healthcare today.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Shirley Silverman on August 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was very enlightening. If you choose to read this book you will learn so much about how the Civil War soldiers endured their wounds and were cared for until Jonathan Letterman began to organize the medical corps so soldiers wounds could be treated more quickly and with better care. He was an amazing doctor and with his skills of organization was able to improve the nursing care for the soldiers. It is a must read book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John D Potter Jr on August 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating biography of Jonathan Letterman who revolutionized military medical care during the Civil War. He incorporated insights from European experience that helped the Army of the Potomac stay healthy and enabled timely medical care and evacuation from the battlefield. Some of it is riveting, both as a biography and as Civil War history.
The only reason for not giving five stars is that it becomes repetitive at the end.
Overall, a great read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Toxey M. Morris on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former military surgeon of the 20th century, I am impressed with the description and detail of the travail and hardship of the 19th century surgeon and soldier. Amputation was the only surgical procedure available. Wound infection was guaranteed. Anaesthesia was unavailable. God Bless them all, and give them peace.

Former Navy Surgeon, Vietnam
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Civil War Librarian on October 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Scott McGough's Surgeon In Blue is the first full length biography of Letterman. The author's narrative is accessible to a variety of readers. It is not a detailed account of military campaigns nor is it a densely written example of medical history. It offers minimal insight into Letterman's character and motivation. Jonathan Letterman did not leave a trove of personal letters. A current edition of his Medical Recollections of the Army of the Potomac is 204 pages in a slim trade paperback edition. Letterman's narrative is similar to an analytical treatise: clear, precise and dispassionate.McGough gives other medical reformers credit where credit is due. He notes that Letterman in early 1863 "could set aside the continuing refinement of battlefield care that he had organized. Fredericksburg validated the Letterman System. Though the system was Letterman's achievement, it had been built in part on the work of Napoleon's surgeons more than sixty years before and of Union army surgeons under Ulysses S. Grant earlier in 1862."

McGough's work accomplishes several tasks. It puts Letterman and his work in the context of the mid-19th century U.S. army. Surgeon in Blue offers a clear depiction of the personalities and political vendettas of the Army of the Potomac, the presidential cabinet, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. McGough has researched the appropriate archival material and enhanced his efforts by consulting historians of the National Park Service and the U.S. Army, the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, and the staff of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Surgeon in Blue offers the compelling story of American physician's life lived during the sobering era of the American Civil War.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Century Review on July 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Outstanding insight into Civil War battle and the vagaries of the armies positioning themselves. Outstanding portrayal of a military doctor who serves and lives from coast to coast - before, during, and after the Civil War. The reader will be amazed at the courage and perseverance of the men fighting and Dr. Letterman's impact on the appalling conditions and "medical treatment" of military men, before, during, and after battle. Outstanding documentation and "Telling" of a surgeon in the Civil War -- a man who surmounts situations and men in power who counter him!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark on April 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting history of the logistical aspects of Civil War medicine and the doctor that was responsible for the advancements made. The book is redundant in places. There are interesting inclusions of the politics at this time that often worked against Dr Letterman. It would have been interesting to have included more of what the surgeons I the field were a actually dealing with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jdp on June 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Competent biography about one of the few successful Union military staff members during the bloodiest war in US History. The U S Civil started as many wars do; with poor leadership, old tactics, new weapons and lots of wounded and dead soldiers. With most of the major battles occurring within an area not far from our nation's Capital; the results of the carnage were highly visible. The care and well being of soldiers was beyond neglect and mostly incompetent.. Amateur levies were rushed to war with little or no thought of providing for their food, shelter, sanitation or medical requirements.

A little known military surgeon with very limited and small scale casualty care experience is put in charge of the Army of the Potomac's medical needs just before the Battle of Antietam. The horrific numbers of casualties, non existent medical support and senior officer indifference provide a scenario where anyone wounded was likely to die before he could receive care. And, far more likely to die of disease or the effects of malnutrition than from battle injuries.

Jonathan Letterman recovers and learns from this first experience to establish and implement a massive and quite successful restructuring of the military medical and nutritional support system. By Gettysburg,the casualties are still enormous buts the soldiers involved are healthier and will receive adequate, for these times, enough care to survive. Ironically, Letterman succumbs, as did many Civil War veteran, at an early age due to the lingering effects of living the same life style as did most Civil War soldiers
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