Tuesday, December 16, 2008

68. They Called Them Angels

by Kathi Jackson

Disclaimer up front: the author is a friend of mine. I originally read her book when it was published in hardcover in 2000. Subtitled "American Military Nurses of World War II," it came out in paperback in 2006. I re-read it recently because Kathi adapted it for a performance by the Hill Country Community Theater in Marble Falls, Texas, and we went to see the play on December 7.

This is an incredibly-researched book about an often-neglected topic from World War II - the military nurses who served in it. Kathi discusses their recruitment and training, then goes on to write about the experiences of the nurses in the various theaters of the war, including in the air and on board ship. The book concludes with stories of fun and friendship (and romance), as well as what happened to the nurses at the end of the war.

Thoroughly documented with endnotes for each chapter, appendices and index, and an extensive bibliography, the book is appropriate for scholarly use. Kathi used many primary source materials, mainly interviews with and letters and other writings of the nurses who served. The use of excerpts from these firsthand accounts humanizes the book and makes what could have been a dry subject come alive. There are also 20 black-and-white photographs in the center of the book.

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