Wednesday, 30 April 2014

[REVIEW] The Backwash Of War by Ellen Newbold La Motte

The Backwash Of War (The Human Wreckage Of The Battlefield As Witnessed By An American Hospital Nurse)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Read from April 28 to 30, 2014 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Brutal, poignant and honest account of the devastation of war and the succeeding deterioration of humanity.

Pretty tough book to read yet utterly engaging, I couldn't look away. The truth in this book is hard to swallow, the vilest side of humans could be witnessed during trying times like war.

After reading so much on the sufferings of the severely wounded from the start till the end of the book, I felt the hospital aren't really helping these people. They are just adding on to their misery and pain. Makes me think bleeding to death is more merciful than rotting inside our while you are still alive. These unfortunate soldiers could have pass on faster if not for the intervention of medicine in the guise of saving life. I felt like yelling at them to STOP PATCHING UP THE DYING AND LEAVE THEM THE HELL ALONE. Leave them in peace please.
He was pretty ill when brought in, and if he had died promptly, as he should have done, it would have been better. But it happened at that time that there was a surgeon connected with the hospital who was bent on making a reputation for himself, and this consisted in trying to prolong the lives of wounded men who ought normally and naturally to have died. So this surgeon worked hard to save Grammont, and certainly succeeded in prolonging his life, and in prolonging his suffering, over a very considerable portion of time. He worked hard over him, and he used on him everything he could think of, everything that money could buy.

The tone of this book is dripping with unbelievable amount of sarcasm. I could feel the author's intense anger reverberating through the text with such force I felt like being punch in the gut and slapped on the face. BUT it's alright because her words are nothing but the truth however ugly the truth was and I am glad she had the courage to write this book and to tell it like it is. She was using sarcasm as a medium to bring across her distaste on war and was deeply sadden by the devastation it has brought to the innocents.

For a more in-depth review please do refer to Steelwhisper's thoughful review. I have to thank her bringing this book to my attention.

Author: Ellen Newbold La MotteG. P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: October 12th, 2008 (Ebook) - (First published in year 1916)
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons - New York and London
Type: Memoir, approximately 24,156 words
Genre: Historical War Memoir (a diary turn book)
Tags/Keywords: classics, historical, soldiers, war, severely wounded, dying, death, prolonged sufferings, war, true account, diary, nursing, military hospital, humanity, amputation, disfigurement, tragedy, disability, mutilation

Ellen LaMotte (1873 - 1961) was an American nurse, journalist and author. She began her nursing career as a tuberculosis nurse in Baltimore and then served as an army nurse in Europe during World War I. After that she traveled to Asia where she saw the effects of opium addiction. The Backwash of War (1934) was based on her diaries kept during her time at the front. La Motte speaks of her time in an army hospital in France as periods of boredom interspersed with moments of fright. The Backwash of War is an excellent memoir of war from the viewpoint of a woman army nurse.

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* Reviewed on April 30th, 2014


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