A History of War Surgery

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Since antiquity, war surgery has been a profession demanding a special kind of human: one able to face seemingly insurmountable problems; one able to keep a lucid mind and steady hands in extraordinary circumstances; one able to shoulder tremendous burdens; and one able to harden himself or herself, time and again, to failure and self-doubt. It is, and always has been, a harrowing business, and only for the brave. Dr John Wright charts the evolution of war surgery from ancient times to the present day, investigating its breakthroughs, its pitfalls, and the people and conflicts that have shaped it. But above all, this is a personal history, calling on the first-hand accounts of the surgeons, soldiers, medics, nurses, stretcher-bearers, and many others who have served in battle and come face-to-face with its most appalling horrors. This is not a book for the faint-hearted. It is one that searches for and delivers the truth about those who, with unerring skill, courage and determination, endeavour to undo the terrible damage we habitually inflict upon ourselves.


Dr. John Wright is a distinguished surgeon who was accorded honorary fellowships of the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He was the first Australian to be appointed to a professorial post in cardiothoracic surgery. He worked in the University of New South Wales teaching hospitals for twenty-five years, during which time he was appointed Foundation Head of Paediatric Cardiac Surgery at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney. John Wright MB, BS (Hons), FRACS, FACS, MSTS is the author of two surgical textbooks and over 200 peer-reviewed surgical articles.