Military History Military Medicine
by
Frank W. Stahnisch
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 September 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0130

Introduction

Military medicine can be seen as being as old as armed conflict itself in higher civilizations—such as those of the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians (from c. 4000 BCE). This article is an examination of the manifold efforts made to bolster military operations through actively “recycling” indispensable soldiers and army personnel. Major changes occurred with the introduction, in Hellenistic armies, of medics and nurses who took care of the wounded and the sick. With the Roman armies’ systematic organizational structures, legion surgeons and physicians were present even during periods of active combat and conducted surgery and wound closures. The following medieval period showed progress in institutionalized forms of care, from the early xenodochia of the Mediterranean to the Christian hospices and monastic facilities that took care of pilgrims, knights, and crusaders. Large-scale theological hospitals appeared, laying the groundwork for clinical care forms as well as serving as an early introduction to surgical training into medicine. During the early modern period, absolutist sovereigns endorsed large-scale standing armies, for the health of which specialized regimental surgeons had to be trained in the new academic medical faculties of southern and central Europe and in the later British colleges of surgeons and navy surgeons. However, the history of military medicine is much broader than the surgical and treatment approaches employed on the battlefield. The early industrialized forms of warfare during the American Civil War witnessed further refinements in ambulatory care for wounded soldiers. Infectious disease and epidemics have caused many more casualties than battlefield injuries among most armies throughout history, and so the prevention of the spread of disease and the provision of nutrition and rest, along with the development of many varieties of rehabilitation measures, have become a large enterprise of military medicine. This trend was highly visible, for example, in the Spanish, British, French, and American colonial wars, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. From a quantitative perspective probably as many military medical innovations appeared during the 20th century as occurred in all previous centuries—owing, in no small part, to the enormous, unprecedented world and regional wars, with more than a hundred million casualties. Examples of these innovations are airborne- and tank-based rescue systems; specialized programs in military medical education; antibiotics; intensive care options; and medical care reactions to chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare as well as tremendous progress in body prosthetics and technological forms of therapy for posttraumatic stress disorders. In addition, the introduction of computers and informatics systems created never-anticipated options for medical care, research, rehabilitation, and social reintegration in the field of military medicine. Yet, progress and transformation in the long history of military medicine can hardly be isolated from the larger general context of the history of science, technology, and medicine and are fully intersected with dominant social, cultural, and economic changes, as the individual historical sections that follow demonstrate. In the latter part of this article, selected publications on major geographical regions of interest—Europe and America as well as Asia and Oceania—are provided.

General Overviews

Gabriel and Metz 1992 is a seminal two-volume work that, like McCallum 2008, sets the standard for a great variety of topics in the history of military medicine and that serves as the backbone of many undergraduate survey courses on the topic. The first volume surveys the period from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, whereas the second volume discusses the history of military medicine from the early modern period to the 20th century. While analyzing the past four hundred years of history in the second volume, the authors describe the Crimean War as one of the greatest medical disasters ever, with the engagement of Florence Nightingale (b. 1820–d. 1910) leading to the first systematic introduction of hygienic and sanitary standards on the battlefield and in military barracks and hospitals. Haller 2011 investigates similar developments in the context of the American Civil War (see also McPherson 2003). As specialized texts, Haller 2011 studies the role of ambulance technologies, Greenwood and Clifton Berry 2005 explores the sanitation role of embedded medics in army units, and Bellafaire and Graf 2009 analyzes the contributions of women doctors in war, a topic that is too often underexplored. Ash and Söllner 1996 provides an intriguing account of the impact of war (here: World War II) on research and higher learning, from an international perspective, whereas Assmann 1999 analyzes, from a literary perspective, the psychological and health consequences of warfare on modern societies in general and on war veterans in particular. Modern developments are succinctly covered in Cooter, et al. 1999, which is a valuable resource for graduate seminars.

  • Ash, Mitchell G., and Alfons Söllner, eds. Forced Migration and Scientific Change: Émigré German-Speaking Scientists and Scholars after 1933. Publications of the German Historical Institute. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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    This anthology provides various perspectives on émigré physicians and researchers during and after World War II, while also exploring their role in military medical research.

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  • Assmann, Aleida. “Trauma des Krieges und Literatur.” In Trauma: Zwischen Psychoanalyse und kulturellem Deutungsmuster. Edited by Elisabeth Bronfen, Birgit R. Erdle, and Sigrid Weigel, 95–116. Literatur, Kultur, Geschlecht, Kleine Reihe. Cologne: Böhlau, 1999.

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    A well-executed example of interdisciplinary work by a literary scholar on the impact of war and trauma on cultural forms of understanding and social behavior.

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  • Bellafaire, Judith, and Mercedes Herrera Graf. Women Doctors in War. Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009.

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    Gives a comprehensive account of the struggles of women doctors in the hierarchies of the military to gain acceptance and rise through the ranks, from the Spanish-American War to Afghanistan.

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  • Cooter, Roger, Mark Harrison, and Steve Sturdy. Medicine and Modern Warfare. Papers presented at the conference “Medicine and the Management of Modern Warfare,” London, July 1995. Wellcome Institute Series in the History of Medicine. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 1999.

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    An excellently organized volume that introduces many important social, cultural, and epistemological topics on the role of medicine in modern warfare.

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  • Gabriel, Richard A., and Karen S. Metz. A History of Military Medicine. Contributions in Military Studies 124. 2 vols. New York: Greenwood, 1992.

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    A superb historical book that spans a period of roughly five thousand years. The book encompasses themes such as the medical support of wounded soldiers, developments in disease prevention, the interaction between military and civilian medicine, and veterans’ care.

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  • Greenwood, John T., and F. Clifton Berry Jr. Medics at War: Military Medicine from Colonial Times to the 21st Century. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2005.

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    The authors give an important overview of the often neglected role of medics and nurses in modern warfare, while following a somewhat biased advocacy perspective. A more critical analysis of medics’ contribution to military medicine would have strongly benefited the book.

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  • Haller, John S., Jr. Battlefield Medicine: A History of the Military Ambulance from the Napoleonic Wars through World War I. Medical Humanities. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2011.

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    A modern and detailed account of the development of ambulance technologies and transport, from Dominique-Jean Larrey (b. 1766–d. 1842) to the airplane and tank transport systems of wounded soldiers in the Great War.

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  • McCallum, Jack E. Military Medicine: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008.

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    This is a useful volume for any survey course on the history of military medicine. However, the historiographical perspective is outdated (favoring a history-of-ideas approach over cultural history), and more modern literature could have been included.

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  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    McPherson’s book is a one-volume account of the general history of the American Civil War that explores many topics on military medicine, including war surgery, the transport of wounded soldiers, and the development of military hospitals. Originally published in 1988.

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Journals

Among the growing number of journals that publish articles on the history of military medicine and surgery, at least nine stand out: Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine is a peer-reviewed monthly journal that provides engineers, physicians, and life scientists with information on aviation and space research, while presenting articles on the history of military medicine in this field. The Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine, along with the American Bulletin of the History of Medicine, is a specialized journal for medical historians that often publishes original research on historical issues in military medicine. The Journal of the Royal Navy Medical Service was established in 1915 and has since offered contributions on naval medicine, pharmacology, and surgery. Similarly specialized disciplinary journals are the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery and Neurosurgery. The last three outstanding journals are Medical Corps International Forum (since 2008 with Medical Corps International), Military Medicine (which began as Transactions of the . . . Annual Meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the National Guard of the United States in 1891 and is published, in the early 21st century, through the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States), and the United States Army Medical Department Journal (published by the Army Medical Department Center since 1989).

Ancient Asian Cultures

With the emergence of urban civilizations in ancient Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and China, the scope and diversification of their respective armies gradually increased. This fostered interest and advancements in the field of military medicine, as leaders tried to keep pace with the growth of contemporary armies and weapons technology. Following the individual care of wounded soldiers on the battlefield (cauterization of bleeding, extirpation of weapon parts, wound dressing), methods for the evacuation of the wounded soon developed so that they could be further treated, assisted, and, ideally, brought back to the frontlines to support their comrades. Tsai 1999 demonstrates that the rise of Chinese medicine was accompanied by a system of medical ethics that emerged parallel to developments in military medicine elsewhere. Surgical developments on the battlefields of Asia Minor strongly influenced Mesopotamian (Oppenheim 1962) and late Byzantine (Scarborough 2010) medicine. Dehesh 1975; Shoja and Tubbs 2007; and Miller, et al. 2011 further characterize the military medicine developments in Persia as befitting one of the chief empires of the region. The period of Achaemenid Persian expansion forms an important chronological link to the rise of the ancient Greek city-states, as is argued in Cilliers and Retief 2006 and Retsas 2009, whereas Adamson 1990 importantly focuses on a long-neglected area in its research on the medical care of prisoners of war (POWs) in the ancient Near East.

  • Adamson, Peter B. “Medical Complications Associated with Security and Control of Prisoners of War in the Ancient Near East.” Medical History 34.3 (1990): 311–319.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0025727300052443Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Discusses the ruthlessness with which ancient societies mostly treated POWs, depending on them as a slave labor force. Toward medical care of POWs, the ancients took a vacillating stance.

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  • Cilliers, Louise, and François P. Retief. “Medical Practice in Graeco-Roman Antiquity.” Curationis 29.2 (2006): 34–40.

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    An exploration of the practical healing options in ancient Greece and Rome.

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  • Dehesh, Sindokht. “Pre-Islamic Medicine in Persia.” Middle East Journal of Anesthesiology 4.5 (1975): 377–382.

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    This article looks particularly at improvements in military surgery and operational approaches in Persian medicine.

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  • Miller, Frederick P., Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster, eds. Ancient Iranian Medicine: Medicine, Iran, Gundeshapur, Vendidad, Achaemenid Empire, Muslim Conquest of Persia, Pahlavi Scripts, Medicine in Medieval Islam. Beau Bassin, Mauritius: Alphascript, 2011.

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    Covers important medical interchanges between Asia Minor and the Indian subcontinent.

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  • Oppenheim, A. Leo. “Mesopotamian Medicine.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 36 (1962): 97–106.

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    Describes the available forms of bandages, creams, and pills used in ancient Mesopotamia, along with sophisticated surgical skills as they emerged through increasing warfare with the neighboring Phoenicians and desert peoples.

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  • Retsas, Spyros. “Alexander’s (356–323 BC) Expeditionary Medical Corps, 334–323 BC.” Journal of Medical Biography 17.3 (2009): 165–169.

    DOI: 10.1258/jmb.2009.009001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article not only examines well-known facts about the high level of surgical trauma care provided by the military physicians of Alexander the Great, but also focuses on their identification of Indian medical approaches and their incorporation of these into Hellenistic medicine.

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  • Scarborough, John. “Teaching Surgery in Late Byzantine Alexandria.” Studies in Ancient Medicine 35 (2010): 235–260.

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    One of the few specialized articles on medical and surgical education in the ancient cultures of Asia Minor.

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  • Shoja, Mohammadali M., and R. Shane Tubbs. “The History of Anatomy in Persia.” Journal of Anatomy 210.4 (2007): 359–378.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2007.00711.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article not only deals with the applied relationship of anatomical knowledge to military surgery, but also offers a valuable perspective on how warfare and battlefield injuries gave rise to a better structural understanding of the human body through surgeons’ observations.

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  • Tsai, Daniel Fu-Chang. “Ancient Chinese Medical Ethics and the Four Principles of Biomedical Ethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics 25.4 (1999): 315–321.

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    Tsai demonstrates how ancient Chinese medical ethics emerged from Confucianism, which emphasized the importance of a physician’s being able to save a patient’s life and to carry out his professional duties, based on a solid educational foundation. This ethical tenet was instrumental in the development of a collective body of medical knowledge.

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Greek Antiquity

Greek medicine is often perceived in scholarly literature as the beginning of the rational approach in Western medicine, evident since the 5th century BCE (Longrigg 1993, Saunders 1963). Although many of the diverse approaches of the 5th century introduced new, nonmetaphysical explanations for contemporary medical practice and prompted the rise of early hospital care structures (Horstmanshoff 2010, Risse 1999), Hippocratic medicine since the 4th century also gave rise to new surgical techniques in military medicine, such as bone setting, retraction, and surgical wound closure (Grissinger 1927, Hollaus 2001, Lee 2007). The general picture that emerges from the literature is that the continuous process of warfare between the Greek city-states and against the Persians in Asia Minor gave rise to innovative developments in military medicine, later introduced into ancient Rome (Jackson 1988, Pruitt 2006).

  • Grissinger, Jay W. “The Development of Military Medicine.” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 3.5 (1927): 301–356.

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    Grissinger’s article gives a general overview of the development of military medicine, with a special emphasis on the most famous wars and battles of the ancient Greeks.

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  • Hollaus, Peter H. “Military Medicine in Ancient Greece.” Annals of Thoracic Surgery 72.5 (2001): 1793.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0003-4975(01)03026-0Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article explores especially thoracic war wounds resulting from arrows, spearheads, swords, and clubs, along with bone fractures.

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  • Horstmanshoff, Manfred ed. Hippocrates and Medical Education: Selected Papers Read at the XIIth International Hippocrates Colloquium, Universiteit Leiden, 24–26 August 2005. Studies in Ancient Medicine. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004172487.i-566Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Some of the contributions in this book thematize the introduction of innovative surgical techniques in Hippocratic medicine that increased the efficacy of military medicine.

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  • Jackson, Ralph. Doctors and Diseases in the Roman Empire. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

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    Jackson’s text presents the most prominent military physicians and surgeons of ancient Greece and Greek-trained doctors in the Roman Empire, from Democedes to Celsus.

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  • Lee, A. D. War in Late Antiquity: A Social History. Ancient World at War. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.

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    This is a standard, seminal book on warfare in Late Antiquity, in its social, intellectual, and medical contexts. A particularly good resource for graduate seminars on ancient social and military history.

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  • Longrigg, James. Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203328354Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An excellent introductory text for undergraduate survey courses on Greek medicine that introduces physiological theories as well as therapeutic and military medical approaches of the period.

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  • Pruitt, Basil A., Jr. “Combat Casualty Care and Surgical Progress.” Annals of Surgery 243.6 (2006): 715–729.

    DOI: 10.1097/01.sla.0000220038.66466.b5Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    While giving a rather abstract overview of selected examples of ancient military medicine, this article dwells particularly on the treatment of battle wounds, as represented in Homer’s Iliad and as depicted on early Greek pottery.

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  • Risse, Guenther B. Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    A standard reference work on the history of hospitals that includes their origins in ancient xenodochia, pilgrim hospices, and medical wards of the crusaders and temple orders and in the harbor cities of the Mediterranean.

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  • Saunders, John B. de C. M. The Transitions from Ancient Egyptian to Greek Medicine. Logan Clendening Lectures on the History and Philosophy of Medicine. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1963.

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    Saunders’ analysis looks at the general transitions of medicine from Egypt to Greece, but also emphasizes the emergence of interest in anatomical explanations of body structure and their help in increasing surgical understanding.

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Roman Antiquity

The context of Roman military medicine, as laid out in Haberling 1910 and Majno 1991, was determined by a very practical approach to wound healing, along with systematic training of the affiliated cohort and legion physicians (Baker 2004, Krause 2009, Simpson 1851). The origins of this education are found in preceding Greek knowledge and technology (Humphrey, et al. 1998), as well as an influx of Greek-trained physicians, who began to work in Rome in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD (Majno 1991, Miller, et al. 2011). Technologically, iron scalpels, surgical retractors, and skull trephines were introduced and further developed by Roman military medicine (Bennion 1979, Salazar 2000).

  • Baker, Patricia Anne. Medical Care for the Roman Army on the Rhine, Danube, and British Frontiers in the First, Second, and Early Third Centuries AD. BAR International Series. Oxford: Hedges, 2004.

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    Baker’s book gives an accessible overview of the distribution of the Roman armies and military physicians along the central European rivers and border castles and in the British Isles.

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  • Bennion, Elisabeth. Antique Medical Instruments. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

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    One of the best accounts in the classical research literature of the technological origins, practical uses, and development of antique medical instruments.

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  • Haberling, Wilhelm. Die altrömischen Militärärzte. Veröffentlichungen aus dem Gebiete des Militär-Santitätswesens. Berlin: Hirschwald, 1910.

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    Although quite antiquated in its narrative form, Haberling’s book is still a very useful source of information on individual Roman physicians and their roles in the military.

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  • Humphrey, John W., John P. Oleson, and Andrew N. Sherwood. Greek and Roman Technology: A Sourcebook: Annotated Translations of Greek and Latin Texts and Documents. Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

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    The primary source material in this anthology provides ample material on the production process of the steel legations used for medical and technological instruments in ancient Greece and Rome and how the state of instrument making improved over five hundred years.

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  • Krause, Olaf. Der Arzt und sein Instrumentarium in der römischen Legion. Provinzialrömische Studien. Remshalden, Germany: Verlag Bernard Albert Greiner, 2009.

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    Krause analyzes how the typically stationary life of the Roman legion soldiers and the practical necessity of the movements of the Roman troops impinged on the selection of medical instruments and the size of the instruments that could be carried along.

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  • Majno, Guido. The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

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    Majno gives a nice account of the practical aspects of military surgery and the development of new treatment processes and instrument inventory. Originally published in 1975.

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  • Miller, Frederic P., Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster, eds. Medicine in Ancient Rome: Medicine, Ancient Rome, Ophthalmology, Urology, Cloaca Maxima, Scopolamine, Forceps, Scalpel, Pedanius Dioscorides. Beau Bassin, Mauritius: Alphascript, 2011.

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    Detailed accounts of individual surgical approaches and the use of new surgical instruments.

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  • Salazar, Christine F. The Treatment of War Wounds in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Studies in Ancient Medicine. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2000.

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    Because most soldiers did not directly die of their wounds, they required medical care and wound treatment. These were shaped by ancient concepts of anatomy and pathology, though treatment was limited by the available medications. Salazar offers a comprehensive account of Greek and Roman military surgery.

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  • Simpson, James Young. Was the Roman Army Provided with Any Medical Officers? Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox, 1851.

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    This pamphlet explains the hierarchical structures of the Roman army and the inclusion of military surgeons in the higher ranks of cohorts and centurions, while also showing the widespread roles of Roman army physicians in nutrition control, hygiene, and battlefield surgery.

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Medieval Times

As described in MacKinney 1937 and Mitchell, et al. 2006, the Middle Ages are often portrayed as a prolonged period of warfare in Europe and the Mediterranean. These developments gave rise to an increased interest in military surgery and care options for the wounded knights and soldiers, as Forrest 1982 shows. Countering the standard views of earlier scholarly literature that the Middle Ages saw “no medical progress” (MacKinney 1937, p. 178) and that the surgical profession “caused a number of important observations on wound treatment to be overlooked and forgotten” (Forrest 1982, p. 268), Popp 1995 focuses on the relationships between Muslim doctors in Italy and Spain and their Christian counterparts, and Mackowiak 2010 and Mitchell 2004 demonstrate that the exchanges between the crusaders and Muslims gave rise to new developments in military medicine. The two major disease impacts on medieval populations—infection and trauma—are examined in Marcombe 2003 and Mitchell 2006, respectively. Furthermore, Luttrell and Nicholson 2006 provides a very important gender perspective on health and healing during the time of Crusade conflict, exploring the culture of Templars and Hospitallers during the High Middle Ages.

  • Forrest, Richard D. “Development of Wound Therapy from the Dark Ages to the Present.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 75.4 (1982): 268–273.

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    Introduces the figure of the Wundenmann (wound man) in the diagnostic and training schemes of medieval barbers and wound surgeons.

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  • Luttrell, Anthony, and Helen J. Nicholson, eds. Hospitaller Women in the Middle Ages. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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    This anthology gives a wonderful account of the gender notions and changes in care practices of the High Middle Ages, which is very useful for graduate courses on the history of military medicine as well as on gender relations in the medieval period.

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  • MacKinney, Loren C. Early Medieval Medicine, with Special Reference to France and Chartres. Publications of the Institute of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1937.

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    Although antiquated in its historiographical narrative, this text provides a standard account of the compilations and codices of Chartres, in southern France, that gave rise to important standardizations in wound and military surgery for almost half a millennium, before medical and surgical training reappeared again in the northern Italian schools and in Montpellier.

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  • Mackowiak, Philip A. “The Last Days of Sala al-Din (Saladin), ‘Noble Enemy’ of the Third Crusade.” Military Medicine 175.10 (2010): 784–787.

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    Despite its brevity, this is a pedagogically helpful article for undergraduate courses, as it fosters an understanding of the high level of Islamic surgery and medicine after the first compilation period, which coincided with the career of Ibn-Sīnā (b. 980–d. 1037).

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  • Marcombe, David. Leper Knights: The Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem in England, c. 1150–1544. Studies in the History of Medieval Religion. Woodbridge, UK, and Rochester, NY: Boydell, 2003.

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    This important book reemphasizes that during most instances of historical armed conflict, issues of infectious disease and malnourishment relating to insufficient sanitary conditions led to much higher casualties than the direct impact of armed conflict, which here is intriguingly argued through the case study of leprosy over four hundred years.

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  • Mitchell, Piers D. Medicine in the Crusades: Warfare, Wounds and the Medieval Surgeon. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    Mitchell’s excellent book is the best-researched and standard account of surgery and medicine in the time of the Crusades. This text should not be missing from any graduate class on the topic.

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  • Mitchell, Piers D. “Trauma in the Crusader Period City of Caesarea: A Major Port in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean.” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 16.6 (2006): 493–505.

    DOI: 10.1002/oa.853Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents and reinforces the thesis that post-trauma care was of vital importance for the survival rate of medieval knights and soldiers and that it, importantly, differed across cultures and localities.

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  • Mitchell, Piers D., Yossie Nagar, and Ronnie Ellenblum. “Weapon Injuries in the 12th Century Crusader Garrison of Vadum Iacob Castle, Galilee.” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 16.2 (2006): 145–155.

    DOI: 10.1002/oa.814Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article deviates refreshingly from well-trodden scholarly ways, in that it offers an insightful interdisciplinary perspective on bringing together history, classics, and paleontological and archeological perspectives for the understanding of weapon injuries and wound healing.

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  • Popp, A. John. “Crossroads at Salerno: Eldridge Campbell and the Writings of Theodorico Borgognoni on Wound Healing.” Journal of Neurosurgery 83.1 (1995): 174–179.

    DOI: 10.3171/jns.1995.83.1.0174Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A brief yet well-informed article that can help surgeons (including neurosurgeons and army surgeons) appreciate the enormous progress in the teaching and practice of military surgery and wound healing that was made on the fringes of the Arab and Christian cultural spheres in the early and High Middle Ages.

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Early Modern Period

The early modern period, as is intriguingly argued in Gabriel and Metz 1992 and Packard 1921, saw the introduction not only of empirical approaches to both medicine and warfare, paired with an increasing level of rational planning in the conduct of military campaigns, but also of acute and continuing care for wounded soldiers. Mathias 1975, Gruber von Arni 2001, and Gruber von Arni 2006, along with Wolff and Waldkirch 2000 and Kaufman 2003, assert that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, sustaining large standing armies necessitated new forms of training for army surgeons, an increase in their numbers, and a redistribution of their roles in preventive and public health measures avant la lettre. Nevertheless, until the time of Henry Dunant (b. 1828–d. 1910), the perspective of military medical care remained, in large part, a preventive and curative one, whereas social exchange conventions (of the wounded) and nursing aftercare were rather neglected, as Moorehead 1999 (cited under Europe) and Eckart and Osten 2011 contend.

  • Eckart, Wolfgang U., and Philipp Osten, eds. Schlachtschrecken-Konventionen: Das Rote Kreuz und die Erfindung der Menschlichkeit im Kriege. Neuere Medizin- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Freiburg, Germany: Centaurus Verlag, 2011.

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    In this anthology the medical historians Eckart and Osten reconstruct how the long-standing experiences of horror and disgust on the battlefields of the early modern period finally led to the “invention” of humane forms of warfare and treatment of the wounded.

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  • Gabriel, Richard A., and Karen S. Metz. A History of Military Medicine. Vol. 2, From the Renaissance through Modern Times. Contributions in Military Studies 124. New York: Greenwood, 1992.

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    This seminal work can serve as an important reference source for any graduate seminar dealing with the history of military medicine from the Renaissance through the early modern period.

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  • Gruber von Arni, Eric. Justice to the Maimed Soldier: Nursing, Medical Care, and Welfare for Sick and Wounded Soldiers and Their Families during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642–1660. History of Medicine in Context. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2001.

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    Gruber von Arni covers a long-neglected crossover area, in which military medicine, public health, and the rise of poor and welfare laws in England during and after the English Civil War intersect.

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  • Gruber von Arni, Eric. Hospital Care and the British Standing Army, 1660–1714. History of Medicine in Context. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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    This is a well-researched and well-written book that explores the impact of large standing armies on the rise and diversification of military and civilian surgery in Britain, following earlier accounts of similar developments in France, Austria, and Prussia.

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  • Kaufman, Matthew H. The Regius Chair of Military Surgery in the University of Edinburgh, 1806–55. Wellcome Series in the History of Medicine. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2003.

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    Placed on the more recent end of the early modern period, Kaufman’s book, with its focus on the Regius Chair, still covers important changes in medical and surgical education that have their origins two hundred years before and that are highly visible in this case study.

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  • Mathias, Peter. “Swords and Ploughshares: The Armed Forces, Medicine and Public Health in the Late Eighteenth Century.” In War and Economic Development: Essays in Memory of David Joslin. Edited by J. M. Winder, 73–90. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

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    A concise article that reemphasizes the economic and strategic rationales for large standing armies, intensified agronomic economies, and the use of surgeons and physicians to sustain and enhance the productivity of nations during the Age of Absolutism.

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  • Packard, Francis R. The Life and Times of Ambroise Paré (1510–1590): With a New Translation of His Apology and an Account of His Journeys in Divers Places. New York: Hoeber, 1921.

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    Packard’s text on Ambroise Paré (b. 1510–d. 1590) is a very useful narrative on how individual and multidisciplinary oriented doctors brought forth new surgical techniques, wound care, and technological innovations in endoprosthetics in the beginning of the early modern period.

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  • Wolff, Christian, and Barbara Waldkirch, eds. Friedrich der Grosse: Krankheiten und Tod: Seine Ansichten über Ärzte und Medizin, sowie ein Abriss des zivilen Gesundheits- und Militärmedizinalwesens jener Zeit. Mannheim, Germany: Waldkirch, 2000.

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    Unlike many scholarly works that have interpreted the reorganization of military surgery and medicine during the Age of Absolutism as a “bottom-up” necessity in the “governmentality” of new and large nation-states, this book importantly flips the perspective, providing a top-down assessment through highlighting the personal views of the enlightened king Frederick II (b. 1712–d. 1786) and his proposal to restructure the medical care and health maintenance of soldiers in the 18th-century Prussian army.

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The Napoleonic Wars

Medical and military history alike have long called attention to important developments in ambulatory care for wounded soldiers, for example, the revolutionary invention of specialized ambulance carts, which Dominique-Jean Larrey—chief surgeon of Napoléon Bonaparte (b. 1769–d. 1821) “from Egypt to Waterloo” (Faria 1990)—introduced during the Napoleonic Wars, in 1797. This is the subject of Triaire 1902 and Howard 2006. Although the Napoleonic Wars gave rise to innovative changes in the French army’s medical care system, the problems of malnutrition and disease continued to plague the Grande Armée, which Talty 2010 analyzes, within the context of a typhus epidemic in western Russia. The Napoleonic Wars also instigated important advancements in contemporary enemy armies and navies, as Brockliss, et al. 2005; Crumplin 2007; and McLean 2010 demonstrate. Markham 2005 looks at the interplay of military doctors and civilian care, particularly in the paradigmatic example of Napoléon’s own illnesses and his death from a gastrointestinal malady. The contributions of the French military and the related esprit de corps of army physicians and military surgeons are intriguingly shown in Martin 2011. In comparison, Ackroyd, et al. 2006 gives a representative account of the aims, social structure, and prospects of the men in the British army, as staunch adversaries of the French, during the Napoleonic period and up to the decades immediately preceding the bourgeois revolutions in several central European countries.

  • Ackroyd, Marcus, Laurence Brockliss, Michael Moss, Kate Retford, and John Stevenson. Advancing with the Army: Medicine, the Professions, and Social Mobility in the British Isles, 1790–1850. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    This book is based on the service records of military men between the French Revolution and the bourgeois political movements in major European societies. One of the findings is that the members of the middle and higher ranks came from the commercial middle class, for whom membership in the British army offered prospects for upward social migration.

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  • Brockliss, Laurence, John Cardwell, and Michael Moss. Nelson’s Surgeon: William Beatty, Naval Medicine, and the Battle of Trafalgar. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    This volume is organized in three parts that treat the biography of William Beatty (b. 1773–d. 1842), analyze the surgical traditions within the British naval community, and, finally, look at the death of Lord Nelson (b. 1758–d. 1805), while intriguingly exploring the intersections of all three themes.

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  • Crumplin, Michael. Men of Steel: Surgery in the Napoleonic Wars. Shrewsbury, UK: Quiller, 2007.

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    Crumplin discusses the interrelationship of treating behaviors and the surgical techniques of military surgeons during the Napoleonic Wars, which only began to change with the advent of the 19th century.

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  • Faria, Miguel A., Jr. “Dominique-Jean Larrey: Napoleon’s Surgeon from Egypt to Waterloo.” Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia 79.9 (1990): 693–695.

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    Faria introduces Napoléon’s personal physician and the chief surgeon of the Grande Armée in this biographical article. The author then covers several of Larrey’s surgical innovations during the Italian and Egyptian campaigns, along with the wars against Austria and Prussia and the march on Moscow—as well as his creation of new medical care options and hospitals.

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  • Howard, Martin R. Napoleon’s Doctors: The Medical Services of the Grande Armée. Stroud, UK: Spellmount, 2006.

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    Howard offers a concise study of the army medical corps and how it was influenced by the emperor and the inner circle of his loyal doctors. Howard also deals with their confrontation with the brutal realities of artillery and cavalry warfare.

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  • Markham, J. David. Napoleon and Doctor Verling on St. Helena. Barnsley, UK: Pen and Sword Military, 2005.

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    After the French emperor was sent into exile on the isolated Atlantic island of Saint Helena, the victorious British troops needed to provide Napoléon with a physician to attend to his medical needs. The physician’s mandate, however, was also to testify that Napoléon received good care and that his death was from natural causes so that no insurgency would begin again in France.

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  • Martin, Brian Joseph. Napoleonic Friendship: Military Fraternity, Intimacy and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France. Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies. Durham: University of New Hampshire Press, 2011.

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    Martin insightfully describes how the esprit de corps of the French army doctors was tied to a profound system of fraternities and new forms of male-dominated intimacy—an enrichment for any course on gender, health, and the military.

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  • McLean, David. Surgeons of the Fleet: The Royal Navy and Its Medics from Trafalgar to Jutland. London: Tauris, 2010.

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    This book is less an administrative overview than a social history that takes the trend in maritime and naval history away from the narrow studies of tactics, weaponry, and admirals, to a much broader and contextualized understanding of navies that includes their surgeons and medics.

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  • Talty, Stephen. The Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon’s Greatest Army. New York: Crown, 2010.

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    An account of the influence on Napoléon’s Grande Armée of the typhus epidemic, which caused half of the soldiers’ deaths, with only a fourth dying in combat and another fourth from starvation and exposure. Napoléon’s doctors had warned of typhus epidemic in western Russia—a landscape that the 450,000 men had to cross. With the retreat of the army, typhus spread throughout western Europe.

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  • Triaire, Paul. Napoléon et Larrey: Récits inédits de la révolution et de l’empire, d’après les mémoires, les correspondances officielles et privées, les notes et les agendas de campagnes de Dominique Larrey . . . 1768–1842. Tours, France: Mame, 1902.

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    This book allows an intimate view of the correspondence between the French emperor and his personal physician and surgeon general during most of the European campaigns. The work shows the detailed medical planning processes of the campaigns and the men’s rational discussions about the place of the army surgeons. Ultimately, a testimony to the deep personal affection and esteem that both men had for each other.

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American Civil War—Union Medical Experiences

The American Civil War (1860–1865) is one of the most thoroughly studied historical episodes in military medicine of all time, which can certainly be attributed to the major impact the war had on the American identity, as Steiner 1968, Adams 1996, Humphreys 2008, and Reid 2010 have argued. With the introduction of automatic weapons, soldiers died in unprecedented numbers, while disease prevention, anesthesia, and pharmacy became new specialties on the battlefield (Freemon 1998). The fields of plastic and reconstructive surgery likewise diversified, as Fatout 1996 has shown, while doctors also developed innovative forms of treating nerve injuries and chronic pain, marking the beginning of contemporary neurology, as Canale 2002 asserts. In addition, new public health measures and approaches to disease prevention developed (Schmidt and Hasegawa 2009) that served as the basis for later US military health policy in campaigns in colonial war settings, as Hattori 2004 illustrates in exemplary form for the Guam campaign.

  • Adams, George Worthington. Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.

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    Originally published in 1952. In this seminal work on the medical history of the Union army, Adams reports that three hundred thousand soldiers of the Union fell during the Civil War. Furthermore, approximately four hundred thousand men were wounded, and nearly six million suffered from infections and other illnesses, which Adams establishes using Civil War statistics and numerous other historical sources.

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  • Canale, Dee J. “Civil War Medicine from the Perspective of S. Weir Mitchell’s ‘The Case of George Dedlow.’” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 11.1 (2002): 11–18.

    DOI: 10.1076/jhin.11.1.11.9108Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Canale’s article presents an intriguing perspective on the development of neurology as a new specialty that emerged as a result of the tens of thousands of gunshot and grenade wounds to the peripheral and central nervous system.

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  • Fatout, Paul, ed. Letters of a Civil War Surgeon/William Watson. Purdue University Studies: Humanities. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1996.

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    This book describes firsthand the conditions in the field hospitals, treating injured soldiers on the battlefield, and testifies to the often atrocious circumstances under which Civil War army surgeons had to work, trying their best to improve the lot of the wounded.

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  • Freemon, Frank R. Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care during the American Civil War. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998.

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    Freeman offers a detailed account of the strata of the medical services in both armies of the American Civil War by detailing doctors’ training backgrounds and service obligations. The author particularly emphasizes the impact of contagious diseases caused by army movements and the aftermath of large battles.

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  • Hattori, Anne Perez. Colonial Dis-Ease: US Navy Health Policies and the Chamorros of Guam, 1898–1941. Pacific Islands Monographs. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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    Hattori intriguingly analyzes how the experiences of the American Civil War gave rise to new public health measures that served as the basis for US Navy health policy even up to World War I and World War II.

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  • Humphreys, Margaret. Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

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    This book narrates an important account of the care and attention that African American soldiers received while serving in the Union army, building a legacy for the many future wars that the US Army had to face.

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  • Reid, Richard M., ed. Practicing Medicine in a Black Regiment: The Civil War Diary of Burt G. Wilder, 55th Massachusetts/Burt G. Wilder. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2010.

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    The Fifty-Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the first black regiment that engaged in the siege of Charleston. Similar to other Northern black regiments, these African American soldiers had to face discriminatory policies that significantly affected the group’s morale, while they also received second-class medical treatment in the Civil War.

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  • Schmidt, James M., and Guy R. Hasegawa, eds. Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine. Roseville, MN: Edinborough, 2009.

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    Schmidt and Hasegawa’s edited volume provides a number of innovative historiographical viewpoints on the medical system during the American Civil War. The modern perspectives include explorations of medical and surgical training, hospital developments, and prosthetics technology.

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  • Steiner, Paul E. Disease in the Civil War: Natural Biological Warfare in 1861–1865. Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1968.

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    This book is largely based on the medical records of the Confederate and Union armies and gives a detailed quantitative and statistical overview of the medical dimensions of warfare in the 1860s, including bullet and gunshot wounds, bayonet injuries, cavalry casualties, instances of malnutrition, and cases of infectious diseases that afflicted the troops on the battlefield and in the reinforcement lines.

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American Civil War—Confederate Medical Experiences

Although for both armies of the American Civil War (Damman and Bollet 2008, Rutkow 2005) many more soldiers died from the consequences of injury and infectious disease than directly from active combat, conditions for the Confederacy were even worse, because the number of physicians was much lower, and pharmaceutical drugs were in considerably shorter supply than for the Union army, as Flannery 2004 has convincingly demonstrated. The Confederate army health-care system could hardly cope with the poor living conditions in the camps, along with the often unhygienic field hospitals (Cunningham 1993, Dreese 2002, Schroeder-Lein 1994). These deeply concerning and lasting medical experiences continued to have an important impact on the development of hospital care and the public health service during the Reconstruction era (1865 to 1877) (Bell 2010, Downs 2012).

  • Bell, Andrew McIlwaine. Mosquito Soldiers: Malaria, Yellow Fever, and the Course of the American Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010.

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    This book draws attention to the growing dimension of disease outbreak toward the end of the American Civil War and thereafter. The book informatively describes the disease conditions of the soldiers as well as the ensuing yellow fever and malaria epidemics, which became rampant in the Carolinas and other coastal US states for the next decade.

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  • Cunningham, Horace H. Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993.

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    Cunningham’s book is the definitive text on the medical service of the Confederate army during the American Civil War. By drawing on a wide array of historical sources (biography, hospital archives, letter exchanges, visual material, and so on), this work provides a concise account of the care for the wounded and the sick in the military. Originally published in 1958.

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  • Dammann, Gordon E., and Alfred Jay Bollet. Images of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History; Containing Numerous Previously Unpublished Photographs of Surgeons, Nurses, Hospitals, and Other Facilities Used during the Civil War. New York: Demos, 2008.

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    This collection of hitherto unpublished photographs offers a direct view and representation of the dreadful wounds and horrific deaths of soldiers and civilians. Because photography was at this time still a relatively new medium, it helped in shaping the general social memory of the Civil War.

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  • Downs, Jim. Sick from Freedom? African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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    Downs’s book is important in that it points to a largely marginalized development immediately after the American Civil War, namely, the increase in malnutrition and spread of infectious disease in the recently liberated and large population of African Americans.

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  • Dreese, Michael A. The Hospital on Seminary Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002.

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    A good account of the new hospital architecture that emerged in the Civil War and the rationale for integrating new findings on general hygiene and infectious disease management.

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  • Flannery, Michael A. Civil War Pharmacy: A History of Drugs, Drug Supply and Provision, and Therapeutics for the Union and Confederacy. Pharmaceutical Heritage. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1201/b14466Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The author concludes that the Civil War served as a catalyst for several changes in pharmacology in the decades to come. According to Flannery, the war served as a testing ground for new and old therapeutic substances. Furthermore, the war was actively used by the US government’s laboratories in giving rise to the private pharmaceutical sector.

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  • Rutkow, Ira M. Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine. New York: Random House, 2005.

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    Rutkow presents the Civil War period as a time in which the borders of surgery and internal medicine were still very much in flux. A major area of study is the establishment of new ambulance services and traumatic surgery, which lead to novel approaches to prosthesis development.

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  • Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R. Confederate Hospitals on the Move: Samuel H. Stout and the Army of Tennessee. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.

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    A specialized text on the hospital administrator Samuel Hollingsworth Stout (1822–1903) and the innovative contributions he made to the system of evacuation and field hospitals in order to meet the needs of large mobile army contingents. The volume also details Stout’s concept of the pavilion hospital style for helping prevent and fight infectious disease.

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Colonial Wars

European and American colonialism per se can be seen as a prolonged period of military history that was tightly interlinked with major occurrences in the history of battlefield and army medicine, along with fundamental developments in public health and infectious disease prevention (Anderson 2006, Arnold 1993). Lerner 2003 examines particularly 19th-century forms of European military, political, and social organization, while tracing social and psychological perceptions of war up to the beginning of the 20th century. Hudson 2007 and Kaufman 2001 analyze the frequent introduction of new regulations and policies by military physicians regarding the treatment of the sick and the wounded. McDonald 2011 outlines to what extent such conventions were followed in practice, especially in the unplanned and rather irregular fighting that characterized the Crimean War. The large impact of collateral infectious diseases and epidemics on the Spanish-American War is well explored in Cirillo 2004. Curtin 1998, Dolev 2007, and Sechel 2011 scrutinize particular theaters of war and their local contexts in terms of their contributions to colonial history.

  • Anderson, Warwick. Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.

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    Anderson looks at the period after the American conquest of the Philippines and interprets the roles of American public health and military authorities as part of the colonial power system. Within the US colonial mission to civilize the new colonies, the public health service acted as an almost imperceptible but nevertheless highly important instrument for social control and colonial governmentality.

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  • Arnold, David. Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    This book studies the relationship of medical knowledge to the power systems of colonial administration and control. Based on archival records of Calcutta Medical College, an analysis of the efforts of Western-style medicine to gain authority over indigenous forms of healing is provided. What is revealed is an incomplete pattern of integration, appropriation, and equilibration between conflicting systems of medicine.

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  • Cirillo, Vincent J. Bullets and Bacilli: The Spanish-American War and Military Medicine. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

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    Cirillo discusses the armed conflict between the United States and the Spanish colonial forces in the late 1890s, which changed the balance of power in the Caribbean in irreversible ways. A problem field of the Spanish-American War was the imbalance between the rather small number of battlefield casualties and the large proportion of deaths resulting from yellow fever, malaria, typhoid, and dysentery.

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  • Curtin, Philip D. Disease and Empire: The Health of European Troops in the Conquest of Africa. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    Although concentrating his book on Africa, Curtin, a distinguished Africanist, is occupied with much larger military campaigns and disease ecologies, contending that innovations in disease control in military circles between the 1840s and the 1860s provided the background for the scramble for Africa yet also affected events in 19th-century imperial Europe.

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  • Dolev, Eran. Allenby’s Military Medicine: Life and Death in World War I Palestine. International Library of Colonial History. London: Tauris, 2007.

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    This book deals with a peripheral development of World War I in the Middle East, exploring the contributions that were made to military medicine within the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. The book further describes the general developments in military medical organization and battlefield surgery in these colonial campaigns.

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  • Hudson, Geoffrey L. British Military and Naval Medicine, 1600–1830. Wellcome Series in the History of Medicine. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007.

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    The well-drawn picture presented by Hudson, a trained social historian of medicine, is of the environments in which British military and naval doctors had to work. Hudson likewise emphasizes the need for effective public health measures in the British military services in the future.

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  • Kaufman, Matthew H. Surgeons at War: Medical Arrangements for the Treatment of the Sick and Wounded in the British Army during the Late 18th and 19th Centuries. Contributions in Military Studies. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001.

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    This volume offers an overview of naval and military medicine in Great Britain throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The two most extensive chapters treat the wars of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic campaigns, and the Crimean War.

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  • Lerner, Paul. Hysterical Men: War, Psychiatry, and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890–1930. Cornell Studies in the History of Psychiatry. Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 2003.

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    Lerner examines whether soldiers who suffered psychological trauma on the battlefield were diagnosed by military physicians as malingerers who had failed to live up to the character of a committed soldier. The author highlights that the German neurological and psychiatric establishments defeated those arguing for a more humane view, opting instead for treatments that met the army’s voracious manpower needs.

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  • McDonald, Lynn, ed. Florence Nightingale on Wars and the War Office. Collected Works of Florence Nightingale. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011.

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    The Crimean War broke out in 1854, and the horrific news of the wounded in the English camps raised concerns in the British media. Florence Nightingale embarked for the Crimea as the superintendent of the female nurses in the hospitals, where her engagement for the wounded won her recognition as the “lady of the lamp” and savior of British soldiers.

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  • Sechel, Teodora Daniela, ed. Medicine within and between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires: 18th–19th Centuries. Papers presented at the conference “Medicine within and between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empire,” Vienna, November 2008. Achtzehnte Jahrhundert und Österreich 2. Bochum, Germany: Winkler, 2011.

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    This book gives a broad overview of the cultural and political aspects of the history of medicine in the colonial context, with a particular emphasis on the German and Ottoman Empires of the 18th and 19th centuries, by focusing on physician protagonists, international networks, and developments in hospital care and preventive medicine.

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World War I

It is probably no surprise that the focus in military history shifts during this period from the political big picture of military decision making to the fine-grained problems of warfare, including the specific medical conditions of the soldiers, as exemplified in Atenstaedt 2011, van Bergen 2009, and Ramsey 2005. What is striking is the direct and immediate transition from civil life and the performance of medicine under these normal conditions to warfare and the protocols of adjusted surgery, which is intriguingly explored in Crouthamel 2001. Despite the abrupt transition, some physicians and surgeons—such as the German neurologist Hermann Oppenheim (b. 1858–d. 1919), the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi (b. 1873–d. 1933), and the young Ferdinand Sauerbruch (b. 1875–d. 1951), then a surgeon in Freiburg, Germany—already realized the enormous potential that progress in medicine had to ease the gruesome effects of war, and this changed the experiences of and scientific attitudes toward warfare, which is argued in Eckart and Gradmann 1996 and Linker 2011. Publications on special issues include Leed 1979, which looks at the particular medical challenges of trench warfare in World War I; Byerly 2005, which gives a detailed account of the impact of the Spanish flu on the American Expedition Forces; and Daniel 2005, which provides an analysis of the intentions and research programs behind chemical warfare. Finally, Bourke 1996 explores the important effect that war casualties and dismemberment of British soldiers had on post–World War I industrialized society, in the rearrangement of social hierarchies.

  • Atenstaedt, Robert L. The Medical Response to the Trench Diseases in World War One. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2011.

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    This seminal study unveils a wide range of frontline diseases in World War I, such as trench nephritis, trench fever, and trench foot, and shows how they gained medical recognition. The work also reveals the conditions the men endured and how they were treated.

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  • Bourke, Joanna. Dismembering the Male: Men’s Bodies, Britain and the Great War. London: Reaktion, 1996.

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    Bourke’s book gives an innovative account of the cultural and social implications of the aftereffects of World War I on the British Isles by concentrating on the issues faced by returning dismembered war veterans. The author puts forward the strong thesis that the ordering of social strata and gender relations became significantly rearranged throughout the interwar period.

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  • Byerly, Carol R. Fever of War: The Influenza Epidemic in the U.S. Army during World War I. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

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    An analysis of the flu epidemic among the American Expedition Forces in Europe, 50 percent of which became hospitalized toward the end of the Great War. Byerly then studies the impact of the Spanish flu on the homecoming troops and the tens of thousands of deaths among the civilian population that followed.

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  • Crouthamel, Jason. “Invisible Traumas: Psychological Wounds, World War I and German Society, 1914–1945.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2001.

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    This dissertation is a highly instructive account of diagnostic approaches and the discussions among psychiatrists, neurologists, and rehabilitation specialists as they debated the problem of invisible traumas in Germany between World War I and World War II.

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  • Daniel, Charles. Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare. New York: Ecco, 2005.

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    Daniel does not conform to the traditional top-down views, which emanated from scholarship in the first half of the 20th century, on how science and medicine were used and abused by figures such as the German director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Fritz Haber (b. 1868–d. 1934), who supported chemical warfare in World War I. The author also analyzes how scientists participated in the construction of racial anthropology during the Weimar and Nazi periods.

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  • Eckart, Wolfgang U., and Christoph Gradmann, eds. Die Medizin und der Erste Weltkrieg. Neurere Medizin- und Wissenschaftgeschichte. Pfaffenweiler, Germany: Centaurus-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1996.

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    As Eckart and Gradmann have pointed out, the cultural diagnosis of “growing nervousness” and “nervous degeneration” in German World War I society must be taken into account as a popular trope when the advent of and rivalry between psychiatry and neurology in Germany and Austria in the late 19th century are being examined.

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  • Leed, Eric J. No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

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    This book breaks with traditional symbolistic and history-of-ideas views of World War I, which too often have described warfare as a top-down process of political planning starting with aristocratic emperors and generals and working down to the level of the battlefield. The book instead looks at the unhygienic conditions of the trenches and focuses its analysis on the combat level.

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  • Linker, Beth. War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226482552.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Linker outlines the rise of an entirely new approach to war’s human “waste”—the bodily disabled and the shell-shocked soldiers. She discusses the introduction of monetary pensions and shelter programs, support structures that emerged in the US military in the decades following World War I.

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  • Ramsey, Jon J. Hell, Hope and Heroes: Life in the Field Ambulance in World War I: The Memoirs of Private Roy Ramsay, AIF. Dural, Australia: Rosenberg, 2005.

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    This book traces the emergence of the field ambulance in World War I back to earlier developments in 19th-century colonial wars. The book also demonstrates that medics of the British army, who saw combat throughout World War I, saw their skills being put to extensive use in the fields, with the early rescue of wounded soldiers, wound healing, and transport out of the trenches and over to field hospitals behind the frontlines.

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  • van Bergen, Leo. Before My Helpless Sight: Suffering, Dying and Military Medicine on the Western Front, 1914–1918. Translated by Liz Waters. History of Medicine in Context. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.

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    Van Bergen’s book brings together well-known English-language sources with Dutch, German, and French references in a very useful comparison of the effect of experiences of wartime suffering. This approach can be particularly useful for undergraduate courses exploring the broader impact of World War I, going beyond the often one-dimensional examination of the British and Commonwealth experience.

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World War II

Of the abundance of scholarly literature on the history of medicine in World War II regarding the Axis powers and Allied forces (see, e.g., Cowdrey 1994, Dwyer 2006, Wells 1995), only a small selection can be presented here, with a focus on especially innovative historiographical accounts of individual developments in medicine and medical research in World War II. As Kater 1989 has shown, most of the leading Nationalist Socialist physicians and scientists either had had a military career in World War I or had been socialized in the military of the Weimar Republic or of National Socialist institutions, or both. Many of the leading physicians and surgeons in the military corps of the Wehrmacht, such as Klaus Joachim Zülch (1910–1988) (Bewermeyer and Mennel 2006), who supervised the sanitation department of the German army and who introduced mobile neurosurgical units for first aid treatments, adjusted to the new forms of mobile tank warfare: “Arrive at the injured soldier as early as you can!” became the paradigmatic approach during World War II (McDermott 1998, p. 130). Similar advancements in the Allied forces were often airplane and hospital ship based, a development that is put in its wider technological and strategic context of the changing history of World War II (Woolman 2001). Zülch became one of the first medical specialists to accompany the tank divisions, with the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, in June 1941, near Brest-Litovsk. The difference in these programs was particularly a result of deep grounding in neurophysiological theory and laboratory research practices and the substantial backing of two central institutions, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Rockefeller Foundation. The latter, with its international funding program, supported intermediary programs in military-relevant basic research, as Kutcher 2009 reveals. Sakaida 2003 intriguingly analyzes the social history of the Soviet auxiliary military medical units, together with the gender balance and social hierarchies in the Red Army between 1941 and 1945. Finally, Weindling 1989 examines the involvement of medical researchers and physicians in racial-anthropological and war-related human research, which resulted in their indictments at the Nuremberg Doctors Trial, in 1947.

  • Bewermeyer, Heiko, and Hans-Dieter Mennel. Klaus Joachim Zülch: Ein bedeutender Neurologe und Neuropathologe. Stuttgart and New York: Schattauer, 2006.

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    This book, written by a neurosurgeon and a pathologist, respectively, gives an account of the developments in neurosurgery and trauma surgery in the medical support system of the German army in World War II.

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  • Cowdrey, Albert E. Fighting for Life: American Military Medicine in World War II. New York: Free Press, 1994.

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    Cowdrey provides an extensive synopsis of the involvement of the US Army Medical Service during World War II. The book explores the responses of American physicians and medics to injury (gunshot wounds, landmine- and explosion-based amputations, skin burns) and malnutrition as well as the impact of infection (gangrene, typhoid, malaria fever) in both the European and Pacific war theaters.

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  • Dwyer, Ellen. “Psychiatry and Race during World War II.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 61.2 (2006): 117–143.

    DOI: 10.1093/jhmas/jrj035Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article offers new insights into the medical and psychological categorization of psychiatric conditions experienced by soldiers, navy sailors, and airmen during World War II. Furthermore, Dwyer demonstrates that perceptions of race were also integrated into the clinical approaches of army-based psychiatrists, often at the expense of fair and equal treatment for all soldiers alike.

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  • Kater, Michael H. Doctors under Hitler. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

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    This book, authored by a well-known German historian, is the most comprehensive study of the social history and the biographies of physicians and surgeons under the Nazi regime, including an exploration of medical personnel in the ranks of the Schutzstaffel, the Sturmabteilung, and the Wehrmacht. The work traces the doctors’ development before the war—including political affiliations and inclinations toward race-based anthropological ideas—as well as during the events of World War II.

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  • Kutcher, Gerald. Contested Medicine: Cancer Research and the Military. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226465333.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The author primarily looks at biomedical experiments conducted during the Cold War, and supported by the Department of Defense, on the consequences of exposure of military personnel to ionizing radiation. These experiments were based on a methodological paradigm and an ethical framework that was developed during World War II. Kutcher reviews the essential ethical issues, beginning with the Nuremberg code and the evolving bioethics discussions of the time.

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  • McDermott, William V. A Surgeon in Combat: European Theatre-World War II: Omaha Beach to Ebensee, 1943–1945. Dublin, NH: Bauhan, 1998.

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    McDermott was a military novice who had just graduated in medicine and who had landed at Omaha Beach with the second wave, serving as a combat surgeon during the great land battles of World War II. This illustrated memoir, based on the letters the author sent from the front to his bride at home, ends when he enters the liberated Nazi concentration camp at Ebensee, Austria, and discovers the medical horrors there.

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  • Sakaida, Henry. Heroines of the Soviet Union, 1941–45. Oxford: Osprey, 2003.

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    Although this monograph centers on the contribution of Russian women to the auxiliary and fighting forces of the Red Army, a large proportion is devoted to the achievements of women in the Soviet medical units. From a social history perspective, the involvement of women doctors, nurses, and medics is analyzed as to their role and place in the Soviet war effort.

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  • Weindling, Paul. Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870–1945. Cambridge History of Medicine. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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    Weindling’s very important book combines cultural, social, and intellectual history accounts, which he uses to analyze the formation and development of the German health services in the Nazi period. Particular emphasis is given to the ideological beliefs that underpinned the racial and nationalistic views of German doctors and human scientists, both in civilian medical arenas and in military medicine.

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  • Wells, Mark K. Courage and Air Warfare: The Allied Aircrew Experience in the Second World War. Cass Series: Studies in Air Power. London: Cass, 1995.

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    This book gives a detailed account of the selection program for recruits into the Allied air force and classification of psychological and physical skills required. The text also covers Allied aircrew experiences throughout World War II and deals with the long-term effects of combat stress and the experiences of gunned-down airmen, who were either rescued or imprisoned in the European and Pacific war theaters.

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  • Woolman, Jack. Hospital Ship: Memories of HMHS Tjitjalengka during World War II. Studley, UK: Brewin, 2001.

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    This is a case study of one of the ambulance solutions for rescuing large numbers of wounded soldiers from the battlefields, placed in the context of Allied naval and airborne rescue operations throughout World War II.

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Europe

The contribution of the Swiss businessman Henri Dunant to military medicine, by way of founding the Red Cross (beginning with the Committee of Five, in Geneva, in 1863) and Red Crescent movements and introducing rules of conduct toward wounded soldiers, is well known and has its central place in the literature on the history of military medicine. Yet, he, like Dominique-Jean Larrey earlier, can only be seen as an individual example of a major contributor to military medicine, whose efforts made a long-standing and crucial difference in easing the strains and suffering of war and in instigating further progress in the history of military medicine (Miles 2009). Particular regional developments can be found in the following case studies of Arcarazo García 2007, Coni 2008, Harrison 2010, and Kelly 2011. Beginning in the interwar period and up to the end of World War II, there was increasing multinational cooperation toward social healing and the rehabilitation of the international community, as explored in Reznick 2004, Perry 2005, and Anderson 2011. The resultant social and medical associations gave rise to new programs in surgical, psychiatric, and orthopedic rehabilitation in Europe (Stahnisch 2012).

  • Anderson, Julie. War, Disability and Rehabilitation in Britain: “Soul of a Nation.” Cultural History of Modern War. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2011.

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    In this volume, Anderson scrutinizes rehabilitative processes, their gendered nature, and the emphasis on bodily fitness during World War II. On the basis of various case studies, she analyzes the processes, rehabilitative practices, and methodologies for the war-injured and war-disabled in the postwar British context.

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  • Arcarazo García, Luis Alfonso. La asistencia sanitaria en Zaragoza durante la Guerra de la Independencia española, 1808–1814. Colección Estudios, Institución Fernando el Católico: Historia. Zaragoza, Spain: Institución Fernando el Católico, 2007.

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    Arcarazo García, a physician and lieutenant colonel, is also a scholar of military history who has researched the difficult conditions in the Spanish hospitals of the War of Independence. He looks at the Spanish protagonists and the place of the hospitals in the military context, first in the mobile context of guerilla warfare and later in established and liberated Spanish society.

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  • Coni, Nicholas. Medicine and Warfare: Spain, 1936–1939. Routledge/Cañada Blanch Studies on Contemporary Spain. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    This book describes the medical outcomes of the Spanish Civil War through numerous historical case studies. Coni’s prosaic narrative deeply contextualizes the analyses that characterize the social experiences of the Spanish Civil War, while skillfully mapping the uncharted territory of medicine and warfare in pre-Fascist Spain. An appended chapter of biographical notes gives helpful information on major contemporary medical innovators.

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  • Harrison, Mark. The Medical War: British Military Medicine in the First World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    The acclaimed historian Harrison shows how, owing to military medicine, deaths from disease declined during World War I, despite its being bloodier than any earlier conflict. Military medicine attempted to care for millions of men in a variety of war theaters that posed different logistical difficulties. The army medical services, which were underresourced at the beginning of the war, became very efficient in preventive and curative measures toward 1918.

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  • Kelly, Catherine. War and the Militarization of British Army Medicine, 1793–1830. Studies for the Society for the Social History of Medicine. London and Brookfield, VT: Pickering and Chatto, 2011.

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    At the time of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, British physicians traveled widely to foreign countries and were confronted with a great variety of battlefield injuries and mysterious, virulent diseases. Kelly’s book elucidates how twenty-five years of constant campaigns in Europe and sustained warfare affected the professional identity of doctors through an increasing militarization of their medical approaches, leading to the emergence of the figure of the “military medical officer.”

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  • Miles, A. Edward William. The Accidental Birth of Military Medicine: The Origins of the Royal Army Medical Corps. London: Civic, 2009.

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    Based on experiences in the theater of the Crimean War, and instigated by the war experiences of Florence Nightingale and her helping contingent of military nurses, this book outlines how the collaborative relationship of the Royal Army Medical Department and two major London universities led to the creation of the first army medical corps in Britain.

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  • Moorehead, Caroline. Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross. New York: Carroll and Graf, 1999.

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    Written by a journalist, Dunant’s Dream is one of the most-cited monographic approaches to Henry Dunant’s idea of the Red Cross and explores the early modern foundations and processes that gave rise to the transformation of battlefield care for wounded soldiers.

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  • Perry, Heather R. “Recycling the Disabled: Army, Medicine, and Society in World War I Germany.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2005.

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    In addition to the psychologically traumatized soldiers, 250,000 to 300,000 somatically injured veterans returned from the Western and the Eastern Fronts. Perry maintains that these “brain-injured warriors” overpopulated the psychiatric asylums and neurological rehabilitation units. With this emphasis on overcrowding of health-care institutions, she demonstrates that providing adequate therapy, rehabilitation, and reintroduction to social life was a major challenge.

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  • Reznick, Jeffrey S. Healing the Nation: Soldiers and the Culture of Caregiving in Britain during the Great War. Cultural History of Modern War. Manchester, UK, and New York: Manchester University Press, 2004.

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    Reznick studies forms of caregiving during the Great War by detailing life behind the lines of the Western Front. By drawing on literary, artistic, and architectural sources, this work brings out how medical knowledge and procedures led to recovery and rehabilitation in military and voluntary-aid contexts.

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  • Stahnisch, Frank W. “‘Sport as an Early Form of Neurorehabilitation’: Some Historical Considerations on the Changes in the Therapeutic Approach of the German-British Neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttmann (1899–1980) during His Forced-Exile.” Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Nervenheilkunde 18 (2012): 391–418.

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    This article gives a useful account of the impact of German-speaking émigré doctors and medical scientists on the development of veteran rehabilitation programs in Great Britain. The article places the development, in the 1940s, of specialized hospitals for the paraplegic in the larger social and organizational context of the preparations for the vast D-Day amphibious landing operations on 6 June 1944, in Normandy.

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America

The significance of military medicine for the upkeep of combat strength and the recycling of injured soldiers can be seen in every major historical war before the 19th century. This is prominently reflected in the Statistical Report on the Sickness and Mortality in the Army of the United States (Lawson 1840–1860). Disease and infection often caused more military casualties than the direct effects of combat wounds (Brown 1873, Myrsiades 2009, Woodward 1870). During the American Civil War, for example, about twice as many soldiers died of disease as were killed or mortally wounded in combat, which was still the case at the beginning of the 20th century in America (Pierce 2009) and in Canada (Rice 2009). With the introduction of field bacteriology laboratories, battlefield hygiene, and general public health measures, the picture changed significantly, as Norris 2007 and Condon-Rall and Cowdrey 1998 note. The period between the American Civil War and the involvement of the American armies (and the US Army Medical Department) in World War I is analyzed comprehensively in Gillett 1995. World War II saw the development of further pharmacological and airborne forms of rescue services, as Nanney 2005 has worked out.

  • Brown, Harvey E., ed. The Medical Department of the United States Army from 1775 to 1873. Washington, DC: US Surgeon General’s Office, 1873.

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    Brown was an American military officer and army surgeon who took part in the American Civil War in a volunteer battalion. His books cover the founding phase of the Medical Department of the US Army during the War of Independence against the British and describe firsthand its diversification during the Civil War.

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  • Condon-Rall, Mary Ellen, and Albert E. Cowdrey. The Medical Department: Medical Service in the War against Japan. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, US Army, 1998.

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    This book explains the institutional structures of the US Army Medical Department very well and identifies military and medical personnel in primary leadership positions in World War II. The authors also deal with how tropical disease outbreaks became of concern to the military command during the war. In addition, developments of military medicine are explored, such as surgery, public health, nutritional issues, and the care of prisoners of war.

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  • Gillett, Mary C. The Army Medical Department. 4 vols. Army Historical Series. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, US Army, 1995.

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    Gillett’s publication is the major acknowledged work on the history of the US Army Medical Department. These texts include the foundational stages in the late 18th century, the American Civil War, and the last of the Plains Wars and discuss the preparations for the colonial conquests in the Caribbean toward the end of the 19th century, while offering accounts of medical practice in the Great War and World War II (covering the period of 1917 to 1941).

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  • Lawson, Thomas. Statistical Report on the Sickness and Mortality in the Army of the United States. 3 vols. Washington, DC: J. Gideon, 1840–1860.

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    A classic report on quantitative distributions of personnel, disease prevalence, and changes to the military health-care system over time. Unlike most other publications described here, this work is a primary source—one detailing the structure and role of the Surgeon General’s Office and the Army Medical Department.

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  • Myrsiades, Linda S. Medical Culture in Revolutionary America: Feuds, Duels, and a Court-Martial. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009.

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    Myrsiades focuses on doctors’ feuds and duels, yellow fever epidemics in Philadelphia, and a court-martial of the medical director of army hospitals in the Revolutionary War. Furthermore, the title refers to a time when American medicine was caught in a period of groundbreaking changes.

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  • Nanney, James S. The U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II: Army Air Forces Medical Services in World War II. Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2005.

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    Documents the state of US military air power, from its beginnings prior to World War I to the start of World War II. Moreover, the book scrutinizes the relationship between the US Army Air Forces Medical Services and the US Army Air Corps fighting units during and after World War II.

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  • Norris, Marjorie Barron, ed. Medicine and Duty: The World War I Memoir of Captain Harold W. McGill, Medical Officer, 31st Battalion, C. E. F/Harold W. McGill. Legacies Shared. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary Press, 2007.

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    Harold McGill was a young professional physician during the Victorian period, who started his medical practice in Canada and who wrote wartime letters to his wife. McGill included much information on frontline military medical arrangements and descriptions of regimental aid posts and field ambulances. He likewise outlined the social expectations of the frontline soldiers and role expectations for military medical personnel.

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  • Pierce, John R., Michael G. Rhode, Marylou Gjernes, et al., eds. Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial: A Pictorial History, 1909–2009. Washington, DC: Borden Institute, 2009.

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    This book appeared during the hundredth anniversary of the first admission of patients to Walter Reed General Hospital, which expanded and, in 1951, was renamed Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The military health complex was integrated with the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2011. The pages contain many photographs of the institution, staff members, clinical and research units, and administrative buildings.

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  • Rice, Gary H. A Sketch of Military Medicine in Canada, 1867–2009. Carleton Place, ON: GEHR Publishers of Mississippi Mills, 2009.

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    This monograph gives an overview of the history of the Canadian Forces Medical Service, from Canadian Confederation to the beginning of the 21st century. Rice dwells on individually recruited regimental doctors, along with stretcher-bearers in the Canadian Militia and the evolution toward a centralized organization for all units of the modern Canadian Forces.

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  • Woodward, Joseph Janvier. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865. Vol. 1, Part 1: Medical History. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1870.

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    The surgeon Brevet Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Woodward (b. 1833–d. 1884) received a position in the Surgeon General’s Office, in Washington, DC, in 1862 and collected materials for a medical and surgical history of war and the Army Medical Museum. A considerable part of this collection was included in Index Medicus since 1879 (later assumed in IndexCat, the digitized version of the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office), which eventually became the PubMed database of medical bibliography in 1996.

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Asia and Oceania

Geographically, Asia and Oceania form a region with high historical, cultural, and social diversity that has seen long-standing war traditions. The region also has a major involvement in the colonial context of the British, other European, and American forces and saw significant rearrangement of cultural and military spheres of influence after World War II. The sense of localization is therefore highly important, even as the historical events that unfolded were always partially related to these diverging historical developments (Jones 2004, Roland 2001, Sharf 2001, Tyquin 2006). Likewise, the developments are reflective of the individual histories of the countries and regions involved, as Blackmore 2008 shows for the case of Australia and Stout 1956 for New Zealand. The developments of World War II represented the impact of the specific war theaters on the history of military medicine, as is demonstrated in Busch 2006 for the Soviet Union, Perry 1904 for India, and Sweeney 2003 for Indo-China and Australia.

  • Blackmore, Kate. The Dark Pocket of Time: War, Medicine and the Australian State, 1914–1935. Adelaide, Australia: Lythrum, 2008.

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    Only Australia and South Africa, of all the British dominions, sent completely voluntary forces to World War I. For Australia the involvement of the army and the medical corps in the Great War became a major element of its self-identity. Blackmore, a labor historian, analyzes the Australian repatriation pensions in the crucial years from the beginning of World War I to the end of the Great Depression.

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  • Busch, Reinhold. Stalingrad: Zurück aus der Hölle. 3 vols. Berlin: Wünsche, 2006.

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    From the several hundred physicians who worked in the front pocket of Stalingrad, twenty-three survivors have described their experiences in the troop hospitals and infirmaries of the Sixth Army. This volume gives various autobiographical testimonies of the conditions under which a whole army died of starvation and exposure in the Russian winter and among the horrific ruins of the city turned battlefield.

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  • Jones, Margaret. Health Policy in Britain’s Model Colony: Ceylon, 1900–1948. New Perspectives in South Asian History. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004.

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    The colony of Ceylon was always regarded as a model because of its liberal governance and its social welfare and health systems. Most officers of Ceylon’s medical services were locally recruited by 1920, as were military physicians and medical officers for the colonial expedition forces. Furthermore, Ceylon served as a hub of troop movements to other areas of the Asian and Pacific region during World War II.

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  • Perry, Allan. A Medical History of Prisoners of War in Ceylon, 1900–1903. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Skeen, 1904.

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    Owing to its well-developed health system and political stability, Ceylon served as a receiving colony for prisoners of war (POWs) from the South African Boer War. As Perry puts forward in this text, the Boers were shipped to Ceylon between 1900 and 1903, and once there, many contracted typhoid infections and became bacteriologically diagnosed. Yet, it took a longer period of time for the outbreak of infectious disease to be effectively contained.

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  • Roland, Charles G. Long Night’s Journey into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941–1945. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001.

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    Roland discusses the treatment of Western POWs by the Imperial Japanese Army, focusing particularly on the fate of Canadian soldiers who had participated in the defense of Hong Kong. Based on extensive archival research, as well as interviews with Canadian veterans, Roland scrutinizes their personal and medical experiences during three and a half years as defenseless POWs in Japanese camps.

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  • Sharf, Frederic A. “American Angels of Mercy” 1904: Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee’s Pictorial Record of the Russo-Japanese War. Washington, DC: National Museum of Health and Medicine, 2001.

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    McGee was a graduate from what is now George Washington University, who did postgraduate study in gynecology at Johns Hopkins University. She advocated strongly for the creation of an army nurse corps, which was finally approved in 1901. In February 1904, McGee accompanied a team of nine nurses to Japan for a six-month tour of duty, which is covered in much detail.

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  • Stout, T. Duncan MacGregor. New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy. Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939–45. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch, 1956.

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    Stout studies the experiences of New Zealanders in the medical services in the Middle East and Italy, and the creation of “convalescence depots” and field hospitals, as well as a mobile field surgical unit, during World War II. The author emphasizes the New Zealanders’ training and the working relationships they formed with English physicians and medics in their units.

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  • Sweeney, Tony. Malaria Frontline: Australian Army Research during World War II. Carleton, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 2003.

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    Australian troops suffered high losses during World War II, owing to malarial infections in the jungles of the Southwest Pacific. Based on these experiences, in June 1943 the Australian Army formed a special research team, the Land Headquarters Medical Research Unit, to tackle the problem of malarial infection. This well-researched book explores how Australians searched to find a scientific cure for malaria.

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  • Tyquin, Michael. Madness and the Military: Australia’s Experience of the Great War. Loftus: Australian Military History Publications, 2006.

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    Tyquin studies the preparations for Australia’s involvement in World War I by juxtaposing individuals’ places in the Great War with the larger developments they encountered. The treatment of shell shock was of major concern to the Australian Army, and insufficient approaches to treating shell-shocked soldiers resulted in the considerable “invisibility” of an entire generation, as Tyquin convincingly argues.

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Postwar Developments in Military Medicine

General postwar developments in medicine have engendered new forms of military healing support. Apel and Apel 1998 shows how the Korean War necessitated the creation of new types of helicopter transport and jungle ambulatory hospitals, which became further diversified, as demonstrated in Burkhalter 1994, Wilensky 2004, and O’Keefe and Smith 1994. As for biomedical research after World War II, the experiences of and knowledge derived from the war are exemplified in Hunt 1991 and Bud and Gummett 1999. The surgical emergency aid chains established during World War II introduced a decisive step in the modernization of warfare by allowing increased mobility in the field, which became further refined (Kaplan 2005). Stadler 2010 has worked out how the influences of the military-industrial complex gave rise to new forms of interdisciplinary and big-science approaches to modern biomedicine, whereas Rosenfeld and Faircloth 2006 maintains that the training and rehabilitation programs of modern Western armies have led to new medicalized masculinities in the contexts of internal medicine, neurology, and psychiatry.

  • Apel, Otto F., Jr., and Pat Apel. MASH: An Army Surgeon in Korea. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.

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    Apel was sent to medical school by the navy during World War II and was recalled from his surgical residency in 1951 to serve in the Korean War. After assignments at Fort Knox and at a general hospital in Japan, he was sent to the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), in Korea, as a military surgeon, forced to operate on wounded soldiers.

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  • Bud, Robert, and Philip Gummett, eds. Cold War, Hot Science: Applied Research in Britain’s Defence Laboratories, 1945–1990. Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 1999.

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    Bud and Gummett describe a great range of technologies and research activities in Cold War Britain by looking at rotary-wing aircraft, ground-based air defense, and antiballistic missile systems in relation to medical applications as well as chemical and biological warfare, defense physiology, and civilian spinoffs. There also are discussions of the governance of defense research and of the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

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  • Burkhalter, William E., ed. Surgery in Vietnam: Orthopedic Surgery. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, US Army, 1994.

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    This book deals with the medical conditions of the soldiers and wound treatment during the Vietnam War, dwelling on the issue of new antibiotics for treating infections. The book follows a rather medical-textbook style, in that it analyzes particular wound typologies, such as hand, foot, knee, and head. Two extended chapters cover limb amputation and the latest developments in prosthetics.

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  • Hunt, Linda. Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. New York: St. Martin’s, 1991.

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    The institutional histories, historical analysis of experiences, and individual legacies of German-speaking émigré scientists and physicians give important insights into the contingencies, interrelated contexts, and structures of knowledge transfer that occurred as a result of the integration of differing clinical communities from both sides of the Atlantic. Hunt also considers the doctors working for the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health.

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  • Kaplan, Jonathan. Contact Wounds: A War Surgeon’s Education. New York: Grove, 2005.

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    Memoir of Kaplan’s life as a volunteer war surgeon. Kaplan sought to benefit many people through his philanthropic surgical practice in war-stricken regions. Working under difficult conditions, and frequently without access to radiologic or other sophisticated equipment, he often relied only on his clinical knowledge and surgical skills in treating the wounded in his care.

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  • O’Keefe, Brendan G., and Smith, F. B. Medicine at War: Medical Aspects of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asia, 1950–1972/Agent Orange: The Australian Aftermath. Official History of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts, 1948–1975. St. Leonards, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 1994.

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    This is the third volume in the series Official History of Australia’s Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts, 1948–1975. With this perspective, the book outlines various aspects of the medical service structures, ranging from nutrition and public health to battlefield surgery and ambulatory care for wounded soldiers.

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  • Rosenfeld, Dana, and Christopher A. Faircloth, eds. Medicalized Masculinities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006.

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    This anthology of eight essays by American and British authors intriguingly investigates the role of men in research on medicalization and the body. Some essays here address the pharmaceutical industry and marketing strategies; others scrutinize the introduction of new standards of male health. Risk management and health promotion among soldier patients in modern Western armies are likewise taken into account.

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  • Stadler, Max. “Assembling Life: Models, the Cell, and the Reformations of Biological Science, 1920–1960.” PhD diss., Imperial College, London, 2010.

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    Stadler provides explanations as to how the emerging interdisciplinary organization of experimental fields in biology during and after World War II could be tied to the differentiation of the field; for example, work on the intricate relationship between biophysics and the neurosciences, a process that was, to a great extent, influenced, funded, and appreciated by the military.

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  • Wilensky, Robert J. Military Medicine to Win Hearts and Minds: Aid to Civilians in the Vietnam War. Modern Southeast Asia. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2004.

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    This study puts forward the view that the medical aid programs in Vietnam had ambiguous results. Although medical officers gave aid to literally millions of Vietnamese civilians over the course of the war, these programs replaced Vietnamese medical services rather than building additional facilities and services for postwar Vietnam.

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Medical Specialties

Cutting across the theme of the history of military medicine are the focused developments that have led to the emergence of medical specialties (Fielding 1922, Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine 1968). Throughout the modern history of medicine, both the urge to find particular answers to the demanding problems of warfare (very localized forms of trauma, intensive care outside hospital settings, and transport of vast numbers of injured personnel, among many others) and the specialization process in scientific medicine have increasingly led to subspecializations in military medicine. Weisz 2006 reflects on national styles of medicine, providing the context for specialization in modern medicine, while explaining some of the driving forces from war theaters and developments of modern surgery that led to the specialization process. Important areas are the evolution of preventive medicine (Bayne-Jones 1968) and solving the mystery of yellow fever (Pierce and Writer 2001). Karenberg 2007 discusses the differentiation of clinical neurology and psychiatry in Germany, with special reference to the involvement of the so-called Nervenärzte as physicians for shell-shocked veterans of World War I. Hofer 2004 looks at the cultural background of neurasthenia, shell shock, and nervous pathology among Austrian and German veterans and their treatment during the interwar period. Wooley 2002 explores a new medical diagnosis, namely, the “nervous and irritable heart,” which emerged during World War I and later resurfaced during World War II. This work also analyzes the combat stress that resulted from new forms of highly mobile tank warfare. Finally, Guillemin 2005 examines the development of biological weaponry and warfare, from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute’s involvement in the gas warfare of World War I, to the British experiments with Bacillus anthracis regional bombardments, to the use of Escherichia coli and poxviruses in modern forms of bioterrorism.

  • Bayne-Jones, Stanhope. The Evolution of Preventive Medicine in the United States Army, 1607–1939. Washington, DC: Office of the Surgeon General, Department of the US Army, 1968.

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    Bayne-Jones was a renowned microbiologist and dean of the Yale School of Medicine. During World War II he held the position of the deputy chief of the Preventive Medicine Service in the Office of the Surgeon General, US Army, along with the directorship of the American Typhus Commission. This book details his experiences as well as the larger history of preventive medicine.

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  • Fielding, Garrison H. Notes on the History of Military Medicine. Washington, DC: Association of Military Surgeons, 1922.

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    Offers a very useful overview, particularly on the history of neurology and neurology-related surgery in military medicine, with special consideration of the American Civil War and the experience of World War I.

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  • Guillemin, Jeanne. Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

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    Medical research in the postwar period has not only been for the benefit of the combat soldiers and civilians injured in the frequent wars that spanned the globe in the Cold War period. Guillemin describes here how military doctors and researchers also became involved in the development of biological weapons and their destructive powers.

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  • Hofer, Hans-Georg. Nervenschwäche und Krieg: Modernitätskritik und Krisenbewältigung in der österreichischen Psychiatrie, 1880–1920. Vienna: Böhlau, 2004.

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    This book looks at the cultural diagnosis of “growing nervousness” in military psychiatry and neurology in Germany and Austria. Although this idea of nervousness has become a fairly accepted view, it is worth noting that the condition was traditionally most associated with the psychiatric or even psychological part of the integrative field of German Nervenheilkunde.

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  • Karenberg, Axel. “Klinische Neurologie in Deutschland bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg: Die Begründer des Faches und der Fachgesellschaft.” In 100 Jahre Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie. Edited by Detlef Kömpf, 20–29. Berlin: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie, 2007.

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    Karenberg gives an insightful account that places the development of military neurology and neurosurgical traumatology in the wider context of the inconclusive separation of the field of Nervenheilkunde in the German-speaking countries, until World War I, along with the holistic psychiatric-neurological approaches that resulted.

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  • Pierce, John R., and James V. Writer, eds. Special Issue: Solving the Mystery of Yellow Fever: The 1900 U.S. Army Yellow Fever Board. Military Medicine 166, Suppl. 1 (2001).

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    This special journal issue brings together firsthand accounts of the impact of the yellow fever epidemics that occurred along the East and West Coasts of the United States and in the Caribbean and South America and that took such a great toll on human life over the past centuries.

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  • Weisz, George. Divide and Conquer: A Comparative History of Medical Specialization. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    This book provides a comprehensive and deeply informed view of the history of modern medical specialization. The book analyzes and compares the diverging traditions of medical specialization in France, Germany, Great Britain, and North America.

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  • Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine. Medicine and Surgery in the Great War, 1914–1918: An Exhibition to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Armistice, 11 November 1918. London: Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, 1968.

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    A commemorative account of developments in military medicine during the Great War that includes illustrative insights into the increasing forms of specialization during this time, based on a great variety of photographic material.

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  • Wooley, Charles F. The Irritable Heart of Soldiers and the Origins of Anglo-American Cardiology: The US Civil War (1861) to World War I (1918). History of Medicine in Context. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002.

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    This is one of the few accounts in English that treats in detail the then-new diagnosis of the nervous and irritable heart. Contains a case study in which physicians’ observations and experiences in both the Civil War and World War I are compared.

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