Doctors At War - Life and Death in a Field Hospital
Author: Mark de Rond
Publisher: Cornell University Press
In 2011, as part of an ethnographic study, Cambridge University professor, Mark de Rond, spent six weeks at the “world’s bloodiest” field hospital, Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan. His aim - to portray the lived experience of the surgical team working there. Rare in its detail and told with a brutal honesty - everything happened, nothing has been exaggerated - this is their story.
Basing the narrative on detailed field notes, observations of behaviour, conversations, interviews, letters given to him by staff, reports of past deployments and on email exchanges (most of them appearing as-is), de Rond’s book provides the reader with a unique insight into the chaotic, confusing, sad, unprocessed, and frequently absurd reality faced by good people dealing with a daily dose of horrific injuries and death combined with too much time on their hands. From pancake parties and late-night saunas to well-meaning soldiers delivering a pair of legs blown off by an IED to hospital reception in the hope that they can be reattached to their owner, this is a world of “banter and emotional turmoil, of the sacred and profane, of caring too little and too much, of playing God and of playing not.” It is, at once, tragic and comic, shining a light on a reality we are not supposed to see.