Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan (General Military) - Scott McGaugh

Scott McGaugh wrote a decent book about the military medicine corps and how they changed the battlefield throughout America's history. McGaugh is not a historian, which is clear from his choices to profile and how he structured the book; he is a communications director for a museum and so his writing reflects a public relations-type of delivering information. 

 

The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War I each get one chapter that was very much an overview of the wars and where military medicine stood. Each of these chapters felt very similar, as the military was never really mindful of the medics, equipment, or processes that were advancing in the civilian world...until fighting broke out and men were dying. There was a lot of improvisation and development came from the Army branch. The highlight of this section was the mobile ambulance trains; I got to see and explore one on my trip to York's National Railway Museum.

 

This was followed by six chapters on World War II, five of which were devoted to the Marines fighting in the Pacific Ocean. And this is where the book fails a little for me - the one chapter on Europe dealt with the Army's advancement in medicine, but it was a total love fest between the author and the Marines. There was one chapter devoted to medical corpsmen who were POWs under the Japanese which was the most interesting chapter World War II section had.

 

And the Marine love-in continued in the one chapter on the Korean Conflict, even though the highlight of this era's medical advancement was the concept and execution of M.A.S.H. - Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (emphasis mine). Vietnam got two chapters, both dealing with Marines yet again. Ditto for the one chapter on Iraq (combination of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, which was another fail for me as each operation was very different other than location), although for the first time a female medic was profiled. The lone POC profiled came in the chapter on Afghanistan, but you also get another group of Marines as well.  

 

Did I mention that my branch of service, the USAF, received 0, nada, nothing, Not. One. Damn. Word. about our medical corps? Yeah, this still annoys me a week after reading the book.

 

At the end of each chapter, there was a paragraph or two that just spewed stats about the number of troops involved in that battle/war, the number dying, the number injured - but no real analysis. It was interesting to read, but really only recommend this to military history buffs or medical history readers.