Monday, September 15, 2014

Pure Grit: how American World War II nurses survived battle and prison camp in the Pacific by Mary Cronk Farrell. Abrams Books for Young Readers, February, 2014. $24.95. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

“I wondered if I would die and how I would die. I hoped to be quiet and brave.” Nurse Maude “Denny” Williams as U.S. Troops surrendered to the Japanese (p. 67).

Pure Grit  is the dramatic story about the 101 U. S. Army and Navy nurses taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. Farrell demonstrates that while women’s military service has been basically ignored by historians, their contributions have been enormous. These unsung heroes faced the same dangers of war that the male soldiers did, while caring for the wounded and comforting the dying.

In the early 1940s,  the U.S military assignments in the Philippines were pretty routine and included a swinging night life. That quickly changed following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Philippines.  Nurses, inexperienced with treating battlefield wounds, rose to the occasion and assisted huge numbers of wounded and dying soldiers under grueling and frightening conditions. Malnutrition, due to severe rationing, and unsanitary conditions became very serious issues. One nurse wrote:

“This morning I sat down to “breakfast” which consisted of a tablespoon of cold beef hash on a dirty plate (no water for washing dishes) ... and nothing more available until 6pm …” (p. 65).

Read my full review at Good Reads with Ronna

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