Contact Wounds: A War Surgeon's Education

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Overview

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times Notable Book The Dressing Station, comes an electrifying memoir of a doctor's education in the classroom and on the battlefield. No other field of medicine carries so much individual responsibility as that of a surgeon. Growing up in Durban, South Africa, in the heat of social change, Jonathan 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...
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Contact Wounds: A War Surgeon's Education

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Overview

From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times Notable Book The Dressing Station, comes an electrifying memoir of a doctor's education in the classroom and on the battlefield. No other field of medicine carries so much individual responsibility as that of a surgeon. Growing up in Durban, South Africa, in the heat of social change, Jonathan 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, and political upheaval. 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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following his debut memoir, The Dressing Station, (a New York Times Notable book) Kaplan returns with more tales of struggling to save lives in the most unforgiving conditions. Kaplan grew up in apartheid-torn South Africa. While at medical school, as he was hitchhiking from Cape Town to see his girlfriend in Johannesburg, he had his first encounter with a mass casualty, helping more than a dozen members of a family injured when their truck ran off the road. From there, he traveled to war-torn Eritrea, Kurdistan, Angola and finally Baghdad, performing surgery in hospitals consisting of two tents and a stretcher. Kaplan is a clinical narrator: he doesn't analyze the disturbing events he relates or try to give meaning to suffering; he simply tells stories with the rawness and incomprehensibility of life itself. His words transport the reader to places most would fear to go. And like those he treats, he is caught in the middle of conflicts he can't understand. In the wake of the war in Iraq, where humanitarian aid workers have been attacked, Kaplan reflects that aid efforts in war zones have been forever changed. But despite the increased danger, he says he will continue to battle the true enemy in every war: death. Agent, Bill Hamilton for A.M. Heath (U.K.). (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Once the only surgeon serving 160,000 people in war-torn Angola, Kaplan here travels from The Dressing Station to volunteer service as a surgeon in Baghdad. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802142788
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Contact Wounds

A War Surgeon's Education
By Jonathan Kaplan

Grove Atlantic, Inc.

ISBN: 0-8021-1800-3


Chapter One

From somewhere in the clinic's courtyard came a bellow of rage. The office was crowded with men who stood against the walls while the director and I talked. Some of them had been guarding the compound gate when we'd arrived and had let us in grudgingly, fingers on the triggers of weapons that were pointed to the sky. The voice outside roared with fury and a body hurled itself against the door; the metal panels, battered by looters, buckled ominously. My colleagues-two women doctors from the Iraqi Ministry of Health-paled under their headscarves. The guards exchanged glances but their beards made it difficult to read their expressions. No one moved. Another crash and the door shrieked and sprang from its frame. A fist came through the gap; above it a face. The man's eyes caught mine, bulging and apoplectic. The mullah's soldiers had evidently decided that the point had been made. Two of them shouldered the man back and the bent door was pushed to. The clinic director's smile had gone and his pleasant features looked creased and discomforted. 'We have no drugs, no water,' he said. 'There is a lot of sickness. The people here are very angry. They say that everything in Baghdad has been destroyed on purpose.' The director saw us out into the courtyard. As we emerged our driver threw down his cigarette and opened the vehicle's doors, calling urgently.'We must go at once,' said motherly Dr. Saria. 'There is shooting nearby. He says it is not safe.'

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Contact Wounds by Jonathan Kaplan Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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