Working in a world of hurt : trauma and resilience in the narratives of medical personnel in warzones / Carol Acton and Jane Potter.

  • Acton, Carol, 1958-
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  • Online

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About this work


Working in a world of hurt fills a significant gap in the studies of the psychological trauma wrought by war by focusing not on soldiers, but on the men and women who fought to save them in casualty clearing stations, hospitals and prison camps. Through a rich analysis of both published and unpublished personal accounts by doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other medical personnel from the major wars of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Acton and Potter uncover a spectrum of responses to what was often unimaginable suffering, which ranged from breakdown to resilience, from exhausted resignation to firmer belief in humanity despite the brutalities of armed conflict. Organised chronologically, the book examines a broad range of writings and voices that have until now received little attention, including volunteer ambulance drivers in the First World War, POW doctors in the Second World War and medics in the Vietnam War. With a chapter dedicated to the recent narratives of medical personnel in Iraq, the study is highly topical and situates the life-writing from these contemporary wars within a larger tradition of war literature. Wide-ranging in scope and interdisciplinary in methods, Working in a world of hurt puts the letters, diaries and memoirs that chronicle physical and emotional suffering centre stage, many for the first time. These testaments to the torment of combatants also - crucially - bear witness to the harrowing struggles of wartime healers. Scholarly yet accessible, it will appeal to lecturers and students as well as the general reader.


Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2015.

Physical description

x, 266 pages ; 22 cm.


Introduction -- 'These frightful sights would work havoc with one's brain : First World War writings by medical personnel -- 'Over there' : American confidence and the narrative of resilience in the Great War -- 'You damn well just got on with your job' : medical personnel and the invasion of Europe in the Second World War -- 'It was a tough life and I did all I could to lighten the men;s burden' : British POW medics' memoirs of the Second World War -- Claiming trauma : women in the Vietnam War -- Crying silently : doctors and medics in the Vietnam War -- Fatal injury -- Conclusion: 'Shared experiences and meanings'.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 250-261)and index.


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    LM /ACT
    Open shelves

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  • 9780719090363
  • 0719090369