And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II

And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II

by Evelyn M. Monahan, Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
     
 

A galvanizing narrative of the wartime role played by U.S. Army nurses—from the invasion of North Africa to the bloody Italian campaign to the decisive battles in France and the Rhineland.

More than 59,000 nurses volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps alone: 217 lost their lives (16 by enemy action), and more than 1,600 were decorated for… See more details below

Overview

A galvanizing narrative of the wartime role played by U.S. Army nurses—from the invasion of North Africa to the bloody Italian campaign to the decisive battles in France and the Rhineland.

More than 59,000 nurses volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps alone: 217 lost their lives (16 by enemy action), and more than 1,600 were decorated for meritorious service and bravery under fire. But their stories have rarely been heard. Now, drawing on never-before-published eyewitness accounts—many heroic, some mundane and comic—Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee take us to the front lines, to the withering fire on the beaches of Anzio and Normandy, and to the field and evacuation hospitals, as well as bombed and burned hospital ships. We witness the nurses—and the doctors with whom they served—coping with the physical and psychological damage done to the soldiers in combat. We see them working—often with only meager supplies and overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties—to save the lives and limbs of thousands of wounded troops. With them we experience the almost constant packing up and moving on to keep up with advancing troops, foxholes dug under camp beds, endless mud, and treacherous minefields. The vividness and immediacy of their recollections provide us with a powerfully visceral, deeply affecting sense of their experiences—terrifying and triumphant, exhausting and exhilarating.

A revelatory work that at last gives voice to the nurses who played such an essential role in World War II.

About the Author: Evelyn M. Monahan, a retired psychologist, served in the Women's Army Corps from 1961 until 1967 as a corpsmanand psychiatric technician. She subsequently took her M.Ed. and Ph.D. at Georgia State University and her M.Div. in theology and ethics at Emory University. She worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs from 1980 to 1996.

Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps on active duty from 1962 until 1965, and on reserve duty between 1989 and 1991. She has a master's degree in nursing from Emory University, and worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Atlanta from 1981 to 2002.

Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee are co-authors (with Agnes Jensen Mangerich) of Albanian Escape: The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines and co-authors of All This Hell: U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
In the 1960s, Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee served in the Women's Army Corps and Naval Reserve Nurse Corps, respectively, and have conducted pioneering research on World War II military nurses. Much like their All This Hell: Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese, their latest brings to light the substantial and vital contributions of those women in the European theaters while tracing the war's strategies and battles. In original interviews, the nurses share tales of inevitable prejudice in the overwhelmingly male army. Their colleagues, however, came to respect them deeply for their service on the front lines (many received decoration). Doctors, technicians, and corpsmen of the busy evacuation hospitals also tell stories and show how the entire medical staff worked diligently to save the lives of wounded soldiers. Notable for the selfless yet matter-of-fact attitude of the nurses as they describe their contributions, the book gives deserved recognition to this neglected aspect of military and women's history. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those that already hold All This Hell. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/03.]-Elizabeth Morris, formerly with Otsego Dist. P.L., MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The modern history of women in the U.S. military, by two former servicewomen who also worked at the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee (And If I Perish: Frontline Army Nurses in World War II, 2003, etc.) begin with the volunteer nurses of the World War I era, documenting what becomes a repeated strain in the book: the struggle against a male-dominated hierarchy, both civilian and military. At first the arguments seemed reasonable enough-protecting women by keeping them away from combat zones. That meant putting them in auxiliary units separate from the actual armed service; it also meant denying them equal pay or veterans' benefits. World War II exposed servicewomen to more increasingly dangerous conditions and let them prove what they could contribute. Eventually, a series of incident exposed the system's bias. For example, members of the Women's Army Corps torpedoed en route to service as officers' secretaries in North Africa were told they had to replace their lost uniforms at their own expense, since they weren't regular Army personnel. At the end of the war, returning WACs and WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) found they were expected to return to a submissive role; some suggested that they sacrifice the opportunity for college to make room for male veterans. Using interviews with women from all eras, the authors harvest tales of training, bravery under appalling conditions and the pride of service despite the resistance to their aspirations. Ample credit goes to the pioneers, notably Oveta Culp Hobby, first commander of WAC, and Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, who led the fight for servicewomen in Congress. In the modern era, militarywomen are permitted a more equal role, yet they still face discrimination, sexual harassment and even rape, a theme that dominates the final chapters. Ultimately, the lengthy narrative is a mixed bag. Some pages ring with authenticity and passion; others plod endlessly. Nonetheless, the authors have found a treasure trove of untold history, and they do not pull their punches in setting it out. Heavy going at times but worth the effort.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375415142
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/04/2003
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
6.70(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.75(d)

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