Saturday, June 6, 2009
Subtitled Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital, the lessons and rules are from an episode of M.A.S.H: There are two rules of war. Rule number one is that young men die. Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one. This is the well written story of a young female Navy clinical psychologist who is sent to a field Marine surgical unit (think MASH) in Fallugah Iraq in Feb 2004 during some of the fiercest fighting of the war. She left behind her 15 mo old twins in the care of her parents and her husband (a Marine pilot). It's an incredibly honest, compassionate, compelling, and heartwrenching story of her tour of duty and the heroes she counts herself privileged to serve. I count her as one of the heroes. Stories of her days in Iraq are interwoven with 'email' from home, making it as gut-wrenching for the reader as it must have been her to serve. The book is not long, not technical and 'easy' to read on the one hand--the prose is sharp and clear. However, it is difficult to read about a young parent separated from her family, enduring incredible hardships, who is still able to help those Marines both younger and older than herself not only to endure and function, but survive the carnage with some humanity. With people like Heidi Kraft taking care of us, we will remain a strong country. It's one of my best of the year.