Healing a Divided Nation: How the American Civil War Revolutionized Western Medicine

Pegasus. Aug. 2022. 364p. ISBN 9781639361854. $28.95. HIST
While there are many books about the Civil War, documentary filmmaker Adrienne’s excellent history distinguishes itself with short biographies of unfamiliar or unsung figures of Civil War–era medicine, especially women and Black people. These stories provide insight into all levels of the medical field and how the necessities of the war, and later emancipation, opened new opportunities in medicine. The book focuses on societal and technological advances; as result, there is very little gore or detailed descriptions of medical procedures. History enthusiasts will notice some imprecise language that results in inaccurate statements or overstatements in areas related to the military (for example, an incorrect implication that Black Americans were not drafted during the Civil War), and a stereotypical description of tight corsets will frustrate those who study fashion, but Adrienne’s strength is in immersing readers in unimaginable situations.
VERDICT Overall, this is a good introduction to the subject and an enjoyable read. A good addition for those interested in the Civil War, biographies about women, and African American history.
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