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In and Out of Harm's Way: A History of the Navy Nurse Corps.

In and Out of Harm's Way A History of the Navy Nurse Corps Sterner DM Peanut Butter Publishing, 1997

This book is a comprehensive history of the elite Navy Nurse Corps. Never boring, the dynamic style makes you feel as if you were actually there. It is more than the history of Navy Nurse Corps. It chronicles the interrelationships between war and medical advances, military nursing and its civilian counterpart and the response to war needs and the changing role of women in American society. Interspersed throughout are those events affecting the development of the Navy Nurse Corps: changing politics, women's suffrage, the growth of the nursing profession and America's involvement in war.

As you travel through time you meet such well known figures as Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton as they advance the task of nursing to the level of a profession. In chapter 1 you meet Esther Hasson, the first Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, as she establishes the tradition of high professional, moral and social standards for the Nurse Corps.

The following chapters take you through the tours of succeeding directors of the Navy Nurse Corps. They chronicle the challenges all Navy Nurses face, the espirit de corps', the horrors of war and the camaraderie that develops between those stationed overseas, aboard ship and in war arenas.

Although touching on it, the reader does not fully understand the equality and recognition that women received as officers and respected professionals in advance of their civilian counterparts. On a sad note, the book does give an account of the struggles that black nurses experienced in their acceptance to nursing schools and finally the abolishment of segregation and the first black Navy Nurse Corps Captain. I found these struggles to be disheartening.

Throughout the book you are immersed in unique views of history as you hear the story of a nurse at Pearl Harbor at the start of WWII, memories from the Korean War and Vietnam. You experience the poignant memories of President Kennedy's assassination as related by a nurse intimately involved in the early funeral arrangements.

This book is about heroes, ordinary people who did extraordinary things because that was their duty. You meet Darby Reynolds who received a purple heart in Vietnam. I remember her as an outstanding supervisor and mentor, never knowing that she had cared for others before seeking care for her own injuries.

The compilation of the Navy Nurse Corps history was a tremendous undertaking. A quick glance at the comprehensive footnotes provides a hint at the extensive historical research and painstaking oral histories that went into the compiling of this rich history.

This book is a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone interested in military, women's or nursing history. In and Out of Harm's Way is a must read for those nurses just embarking on the rewarding profession in the Navy Nurses Corps.
COPYRIGHT 1998 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Johnson, Nancy R.
Publication:Journal of Neuroscience Nursing
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1998
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