Wept o’er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done, Shoulder’d his crutch, and shew’d how fields were won.


Contact wounds : a war surgeon’s education      Jonathan Kaplan  Surgery, Military Biography  New York : Grove Press, 2005 Hardcover. 1st ed., and printing. 278 p. ; 23 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Surgery is the crude art of cutting people open, yet it is also a symphony of delicate manipulation and subtle chords. So says Jonathan Kaplan in his stunning book Contact Wounds, an electrifying account of a doctor’s education in the classroom, in life, and on the battlefield. No other field of medi­cine carries so much individual responsibility as that of a surgeon. Kaplan learned that lesson early from his father, who volunteered as a military surgeon in World War II.

Kaplan became a doctor and was appointed to a post at a woefully under­staffed South African general hospital in a black township. Fleeing apartheid, he traveled the globe in search of sanctuary, experiencing riots, tropical fevers, politi­cal upheaval, and a jungle search for a lost friend. Kaplan eventually landed in Angola, taking charge of a combat-zone hospital, the only surgeon for 160,000 civilians, where he was exposed daily to the horrors of war. In Contact Wounds, Kaplan portrays serving as a volunteer surgeon in Baghdad — where he treated civilian casualties amid gunfights for control of hospitals and dealt with gangs of AK-47-wielding looters stripping pharmacies and militant Shi’a groups harassing doctors out of operating rooms. Contact Wounds is a stirring testament of adven­ture, discovery, survival, and the making of a career devoted to saving people caught in the crossfire of war.

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