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BJS Bookshelf: War Doctor, Surgery on the Front Line.

Authors: Recommendation and Article by Gianluca Pellino, BJS Academy SoMe and Associate Professor of Surgery at University of Campania, Naples, Italy, @GianlucaPellino

The book describes the personal path of David Nott, a well-known vascular surgeon from the UK, who has contributed immensely to help countries during war crisis, both operating on the field and training local colleagues to perform common operations, and to deal with casualties. Mr Nott provides vivid images of what it was like to be a surgeon in such difficult times and places, putting at risk his own career and life. The style is captivating and gives a clear and unfiltered picture of the difficulties encountered whilst serving during conflicts: facing authorities and restrictions, fighting a war inside the war, with no other weapons but surgical knowledge and will to help who is suffering. There are very painful-to-read pages, which are likely to hurt the reader, who will wet some pages with tears; but they are instrumental to show the brutality of war and how surgeons can contribute to make a change. 

Why surgeons should read this book:

The strive to help who is suffering has motivated many surgeons to become doctors, and specifically doctors who can perform operations: making something tangible and resolutive. Some surgeons will still feel that they can do more to share the knowledge they have been accumulating through years of hard study and training with colleagues that did not have the same opportunities. Humanitarian missions can enrich the soul of surgeons, and they really make a change in people’s lives. Sadly, wars are still afflicting our world, and with violence come suffering and injuries to civilians and innocent members of the society. Serving in difficult situations requires skills and preparation, which are clearly described in the book. This book does not teach how to become a hero, rather it prepares those who are considering such an experience to what they can expect. It motivates those who are living the conflicts in every day life to carry on and seek for collaborations, and it provides an inspiration and example of many ways to contribute to alleviating the suffering.


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