Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames

Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames

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by Barbara Ravage

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“A compelling blend of science, history and storytelling. Barbara Ravage has fashioned an enlightening, invaluable book.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American TragedyThough each of us is just a spark away from being a burn victim, the public knows little and understands less about the world that


“A compelling blend of science, history and storytelling. Barbara Ravage has fashioned an enlightening, invaluable book.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American TragedyThough each of us is just a spark away from being a burn victim, the public knows little and understands less about the world that patients inhabit. Pulling the curtains back on this private and sterile environment, Burn Unit is a riveting account of the frontline efforts—both modern-day and historical—to save lives devastated by fire. With unflinching urgency, Barbara Ravage follows an extraordinary team of healers at Massachusetts General Hospital, the cradle of modern burn treatment and the site of one of the best burn units in the world. From Boston’s Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942 to the treatment of the victims of the Rhode Island nightclub fire in early 2003, we watch everyday heroes do their incredible but punishing work against the backdrop of history. Both a moving human drama and an engrossing scientific exploration of this little-known field of medicine, Burn Unit is an unforgettably powerful read.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Science writer Ravage delivers a fascinating and unflinching look behind the scenes at the nationally acclaimed burn unit of Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. The reader is warned early on that the unit is "no place for the squeamish," and the book details numerous examples of the hard work that its doctors and nurses must perform, such as the excision of dead skin that "comes off like peels of rubber cement." But Ravage is never gratuitously graphic, and she displays solid research and reporting skills in presenting the historical and the personal sides of burn injuries. She provides an excellent historical context to the development of burn treatments, from Boston's infamous Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942 through last year's fire at a Rhode Island music club. She also uses the experiences of two former burn patients and their families (names changed at their request) to show in detail how doctors and nurses treat horrific burns. Her greatest success is in interweaving these two sides, such as her explanation of how ideas have evolved in the areas of respiratory injury, shock and the surface treatment of burn wounds, which brings the reader much closer to truly understanding what the patients endure. This is an enlightening look at an important area of hospital care. Agent, Lane Zachary. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ravage, a medical and science writer, gives readers an intensive course on burns and burn therapy, following two patients with severe wounds through Bigelow 13, the highly sophisticated burn unit of Massachusetts General Hospital. State-of-the-art burn therapy, the author reveals, results from a long medical history of chance discoveries, fruitful collaborations, and key people being in the right place at the right time. The dedicated, unique team approach that characterizes modern burn care is multidisciplinary, giving new meaning to the term intensive care. As the author's detailed account shows, burn care is hard work, punishing in its demands on both the body and the psyche of those involved, who must function at the highest level of professional competence while witnessing the excruciating pain of victims. A riveting and unforgettable account of burn wound history, therapy, and healing; highly recommended for all healthcare collections. James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Da Capo Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 8.76(h) x 0.85(d)

Meet the Author

The author of six books, Barbara Ravage is a member of the National Association of Science Writers. She lives on Cape Cod.

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Burn Unit: Saving Lives after the Flames 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is where the warriors of Flameclan will nest. There is enough room for multiple cats to sleep here. It is made up of a large area of bushes and bracken woven together. There is a roof of thick, tightly woven vines. ~ \•Fawnstar•/
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burn Unit is a marvelous book. The writing sparkles -- Ravage involves the reader in the progress of the patients she tracks, the history of burn care and medical understanding of burns, and the unique world of care givers in the field of burn treatment. Burns are not like other illnesses/injuries. This book brings the reader into unfamiliar territory (some of it difficult)-- but you can't put it down. Anyone with an interest in reading about medicine -- or about survival -- or about caring, will love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fantastic book! Ravage 'puts you there' as vividly as any nonfiction I've read recently. I opened BURN UNIT with no medical background and no personal experience with burns; soon, though, I was not only getting a personal tour of the best burn unit in the world, I was being sensitively taught what I needed to know to understand what I was 'seeing'. That show-teach-show cycle is, for me, the essence of great nonfiction, and Ravage is a master of the craft. If you want to enlarge your life, in knowledge and compassion, read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just today finished Burn Unit. Finishing a book for me is relatively unusual. I always have a few going at a time, and most get only part way - they just don¿t get picked up again. But I keep returning to this book. Barbara Ravage has written a classic. Her writing is engaging, as she monitors burn survivors Dan and Tom and their families, without giving in to simplification and caricature. These people feel real. Their caregivers are presented in the context of their work. They convey the story of the technology and the medicine of burn care, in a remarkably lucid, interesting way. Their personal lives are, appropriately, only sketched. I had experience in the MGH Burn Unit as a fourth-year med student, in 1973. And I¿ve had 26 years of primary care internal medicine in a rural area. This book has tought me a world of new perspectives and insights, basic science and intensive care medicine, and especially understandings about wound healing. And I believe the author has communicated this difficult material in a manner which will be comprehensible to any serious reader, even one without great technical background. Her ability to appeal to, and to be important to, a diverse reader base, reflects the maturity of her perspective. I have been recommending this book to friends and profiessional colleagues, as a most- worthwhile read. Any care provider will gain valuable understandings from this pleasant task.