The best books about human casualties of World War One

Emily Mayhew Author Of Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I
By Emily Mayhew

Who am I?

Dr. Emily Mayhew is the historian in residence in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Her primary research interest is the infliction, treatment, and long-term outcomes of complex casualty in contemporary warfare. She is the author of the Wounded trilogy. A Heavy Reckoning, The Guinea Pig Club, and Wounded: From Battlefield to Blighty which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize in 2014. She is Imperial College Internal Lead on the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership and co-edited The Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual.

I wrote...

Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I

By Emily Mayhew,

Book cover of Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I

What is my book about?

In Wounded, Emily Mayhew tells the history of the Western Front from a new perspective: the medical network that arose seemingly overnight to help sick and injured soldiers. The number of soldiers wounded in World War I is, in itself, devastating: over 21 million military wounded, and nearly 10 million killed. On the battlefield, the injuries were shocking, unlike anything those in the medical field had ever witnessed. The bullets hit fast and hard, went deep, and took bits of dirty uniform and airborne soil particles in with them. Soldier after soldier came in with the most dreaded kinds of casualty: awful, deep, ragged wounds to their heads, faces, and abdomens. And yet the medical personnel faced with these unimaginable injuries adapted with amazing aptitude, thinking and reacting on their feet to save millions of lives.

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The books I picked & why

A Whispered Name

By William Brodrick,

Book cover of A Whispered Name

Why did I love this book?

A mystery novel, that tells a haunting, captivating story of the cost paid by one individual soldier at the battle of Messines Ridge. Impeccably researched, the reader is given a firm historical grounding of the physical, psychological, and geophysical costs of being at the explosive, bloody cutting edge of warfare on the Western Front.

By William Brodrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Whispered Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To keep quiet about something so important . . . well, it's almost a lie, wouldn't you say?'

When Father Anselm meets Kate Seymour in the cemetery at Larkwood, he is dismayed to hear her allegation. Herbert Moore had been one of the founding fathers of the Priory, revered by all who met him, a man who'd shaped Anselm's own vocation. The idea that someone could look on his grave and speak of a lie is inconceivable. But Anselm soon learns that Herbert did indeed have secrets in his past that he kept hidden all his life. In 1917, during…

Book cover of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

Why did I love this book?

So great was the demand for hospital beds for the wounded, that medical facilities were a feature of most of Britain's cities, part of daily civilian life. At the heart of London's Covent Garden was the Endell Street Hospital, run entirely by women whose medical expertise and skill was matched by their direct experience of the war itself. But their achievements and experience were wasted after the war by a medical profession that reverted all too easily to pre-war prejudice and discrimination. Much was lost, especially to their patients whose recovery prospects were damaged, never to be restored.

By Wendy Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Man's Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The "absorbing and powerful" (Wall Street Journal) story of two pioneering suffragette doctors who shattered social expectations and transformed modern medicine during World War I. A month after war broke out in 1914, doctors Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson set out for Paris, where they opened a hospital in a luxury hotel and treated hundreds of casualties plucked from France’s battlefields. Although prior to the First World War, female doctors were restricted to treating women and children, Murray and Anderson’s work was so successful that the British Army asked them to run a hospital in the heart of London.…

Book cover of Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital

Why did I love this book?

A biography of an extraordinary building: the biggest hospital ever built, to contain the casualties of Britain's biggest and worst wars from Crimea to World War Two. Perhaps the most original work of medical historical writing in the English language, as the ghosts of the nurses, doctors, and their broken shell-shocked patients haunt its pages and its writer through his family connections.

By Philip Hoare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spike Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Netley in Southampton - its hospital, its people and the secret history of the 20th-century. Now with a new afterword uncovering astonishing evidence of Netley's links with Porton Down & experiments with LSD in the 1950s.

It was the biggest hospital ever built. Stretching for a quarter of a mile along the banks of Southampton Water, the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley was an expression of Victorian imperialism in a million red bricks, a sprawling behemoth so vast that when the Americans took it over in World War II, GIs drove their jeeps down its corridors.…

The Whistlers' Room

By Paul Alverdes, Basil Creighton,

Book cover of The Whistlers' Room

Why did I love this book?

A small and beautiful story of three young soldier casualties who lie in a German hospital ward as the Great War grinds its way to an end. They've survived the bullet wounds to their throats and faces that have reduced each of their voices to a whispering whistle. But there is little left of their lives beyond survival, despite the efforts of their dedicated surgeon and their devotion to each other. A novella, based on the real-life experiences of the author, his comrades, and the English PoW they met in the Whistlers Room.

By Paul Alverdes, Basil Creighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whistlers' Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Whistlers' Room is the surprisingly gentle, sensitive story of a section in a German hospital where three soldiers try to recover from battle injuries. They are known as the Whistlers, as all were shot in the throat and their breathing results in a sound "like the squeaking of mice". The author vividly captures the strong young men the soldiers used to be and the battered, wounded people they have become. Pointner, whose obstinacy in holding onto an English sniper's cap means he is mistaken for the enemy, is the worst injured of the trio. Kollin continually dreams that he…

Book cover of The Woman Who Saved the Children

Why did I love this book?

The life story of Eglantine Jebb, founder of Save the Children, who fought for the millions of children left destitute and starving in the ruins of Europe's Great War and, along the way, changed the mind of the British nation about the costs, consequences and responsibilities of victory.

By Clare Mulley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Woman Who Saved the Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unconventional biography of an unconventional woman. Eglantyne Jebb, not particularly fond of children herself, nevertheless dedicated her life to establishing Save the Children and promoting her revolutionary concept of human rights. In this award-winning book, Clare Mulley brings to life this brilliant, charismatic, and passionate woman, whose work took her between drawing rooms and war zones, defying convention and breaking the law.

Eglantyne Jebb not only helped save millions of lives, she also permanently changed the way the world treats children.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 1, hospitals, and Germany?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 1, hospitals, and Germany.

World War 1 Explore 745 books about World War 1
Hospitals Explore 18 books about hospitals
Germany Explore 390 books about Germany

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Hitler's First War, Haig's Enemy, and Fallen Soldiers if you like this list.