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Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This well-researched volume tells the story of the army and navy nurses who were stationed in the Philippines during World War II. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese began bombing the Philippines. The 79 nurses serving there came from different backgrounds: some longed for an escape from farm life, while others sought adventure. All wanted to find meaningful work caring for others. During the bombardment, their subsequent retreat and, finally, their imprisonment by the Japanese, the nurses never stopped taking care of those around them. After months of near starvation, they were finally liberated by American forces in 1945. Yet even when the nurses arrived home, their troubles were not over. Many had difficulty readjusting to life at home; their experiences just didn't fit the paradigm of women's lives in the mid-20th century. As part of her research, Farrell interviewed the last surviving nurse, plus the children of many of the others, and the text is full of primary source documentation. This adds rich detail to make the circumstances all the more real, whether they are the injuries the nurses treated or the horrific conditions in the prison camps. In addition to photographs and helpful maps, the page layouts include facsimiles of the nurses' letters and diaries. Young readers who enjoyed Tanya Lee Stone's Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream will also appreciate this story of courageous women whose story was nearly forgotten.—Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
*Starred Review* Farrell chronicles the harrowing story of U.S. Army and Navy nurses based in the Philippines during WWII. After working under enemy fire, they became prisoners of war in two Japanese prison camps, where they continued to nurse soldiers and other captives. As time went on, severe malnutrition and lack of medicine left all the prisoners vulnerable to serious diseases. Still, the women bonded, supporting each other during the years before their release in 1945. The nurses’ return to civilian life was hampered by an unsupportive military and what we now recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder. The first official recognition of their service came in 1983, after many had died. Farrell offers a thoroughly researched account encompassing the experiences of 67 American nurses held as POWs in the Philippines. Well-chosen quotes from interviews, personal accounts, and articles bring their voices into the story, while the many period photos offer intriguing glimpses of the war, the camps, and the women’s later lives. At times the narrative is nearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of experiences recorded and women profiled. But in the end, the details of many nurses’ individual trials combine to form a memorable portrayal of their shared experience, one that will emotionally impact readers. Grades 7-10. --Carolyn Phelan
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Like the very best non-fiction books, this one makes me want to learn more.
Most recent customer reviews
Same story but told in a much better way!