A Heavy Reckoning

War, medicine and survival in Afghanistan and beyond

Emily Mayhew

Book cover of A Heavy Reckoning by Emily Mayhew

Mayhew is uniquely placed to tell this story, which flits between medical science and heart-thumping narrative.

Miles Amoore, Literary Review

What happens when you reach the threshold of life and death and come back?

For as long as humans have lived together on the planet, there have been wars, and injured soldiers and civilians. But today, as we engage in wars across the globe with increasingly sophisticated technology, we are able to bring people back from ever closer encounters with death. But how do we do it, and what happens next?

MORE: Read an extract from 'Heavy Reckoning'

Historian Emily Mayhew explores the modern reality of medicine and injury in wartime: from the trenches of World War One to the dusty plains of Afghanistan and the rehabilitation wards of Headley Court in Surrey. Mixing vivid and compelling stories of unexpected survival with astonishing insights into frontline medicine, 'A Heavy Reckoning' is a book about how far we have come in saving, healing and restoring the human body.

Mayhew gives us a new understanding of the limits of human life, and the extraordinary physical and mental costs paid by casualties all over the world in the 21st century.

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About the author

Photograph of Dr Emily Mayhew

Dr Emily Mayhew

Dr Emily Mayhew is a military medical historian specialising in the study of severe casualty, its infliction, treatment and long-term outcomes in 20th and 21st century warfare. She is historian in residence in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College, and a Research Fellow in the Division of Surgery within the Department of Surgery and Cancer. She is the author of ‘Wounded: From Battlefield to Blighty 1914-1918’, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2014.