American Nightingale

American Nightingale

by Bob Welch

Debbie Weiss (02/21/14): The reviews previously given by Gail and Judy summarize well the story line of this book. Frances Slanger, who immigrated to the US as a child from Poland to escape the antisemetism that existed there, was an ordinary young lady who felt it was her patriotic duty to volunteer during WW II as a nurse. She overcame many obstacles in her life to become a nurse and then to be assigned to overseas duty. She was a force to be reckoned with. Her family had little money so she had to work to support herself, her family and to pay her tuition to nursing school. Told at first that she did not qualify for the military due to poor eyesight, she persisted until the military changed their mind and inducted her into the nursing corp. She loved her work and was dedicated to her profession. As Gail indicated, it was very interesting to read about the interactions and interrelationships of the doctors and nurses during the hardships of battle. The book was interesting, but the story behind the book is what was truly fascinating. I also would rate the book a 3+.
Rating: ***+

Gail Reid (02/13/14): Although ďAmerican NightingaleĒ is a work of non-fiction, the narrative moves smoothly and is not overwhelmed by facts and figures. There are numerous books out there on World War II and the holocaust but this one shares a completely different perspective. Through showing the lives and personalities of the doctors and nurses in Francesís unit, the story of a World War II medical team unfolds as they care for the injured and dying. In spite of rigorous hours and often makeshift hospitals and supplies, Frances continues to find time to write and record her observations and insights. It is one such letter that she writes to Stars and Stripes that changes everything and elevates Frances to hero status which she justly deserves.

This is not a book that I would have gravitated to on my own. I appreciated all the research that the author conducted with surviving members of Francesís World War II unit which renders a feeling of authenticity. The best parts of the book are the interactions of the doctors and nurses and their feelings and insights so close to the battlefield and death. Of lesser appeal are some of Frances' poems which are interspersed throughout the book. ***+
Rating: ***+

Judy Stanton (05/10/13): Frances Slanger was my kind of gal. She was a hard worker, a serious thinker, a reader and a writer. She escaped the pogroms in Poland to come to Roxbury, Mass, where she was a fruit peddler's daughter. She defied family expectations of marriage and factory work, with a strong will and determination to become a nurse and, ultimately, join the service. Using stories and facts from his extensive research, author Bob Welch lovingly portrays how a rather ordinary young lady managed to impact so many people's lives and leave her mark on the world. It is a wonderful story and I l even enjoyed reading the epilog and afterword, following up on all those in her family and medical infantry. Although it is set during WWII, it is not a story of the Holocaust, but rather of the American battle to win the war, with one very special young nurse at the heart of that fight. 4+
Rating: ****+

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