Contact Wounds: A War Surgeon's Educationby Jonathan Kaplan
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. Inspired by his father, a military surgeon in World War II and Israel’s nascent fight for statehood, 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. Journeying further into dangerous territory, Kaplan portrays serving as a volunteer surgeon in Baghdadwhere he treated civilian casualties amid gunfights for control of hospitals and dealt with gangs of AK-47-wielding looters stripping pharmacies. 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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Contact WoundsA War Surgeon's Education
By Jonathan Kaplan
Grove Atlantic, Inc.ISBN: 0-8021-1800-3
Chapter OneFrom 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.'
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