Working in a World of Hurt: Trauma and Resilience in the Narratives of Medical Personnel in Warzones

TitleWorking in a World of Hurt: Trauma and Resilience in the Narratives of Medical Personnel in Warzones
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsActon, Carol, and Jane Potter
Number of Pages266
PublisherManchester University Press

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 Through a rich analysis of both published and unpublished personal accounts by doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other medcal personnel from the major wars of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Acton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.

Short TitleWorking in a World of Hurt
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