The best books about nurses

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to nurses, and here are their favorite nurse books.
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The Light of Luna Park

By Addison Armstrong,

Book cover of The Light of Luna Park

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Author Of The Sharp Edge of Mercy

From the list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses.

Who am I?

My mother went back to school for her PhD in Anatomy when I was a pre-teen. During the summers of my high school years I worked with her in her lab, and let me tell you, you see your mother in a new light when you see her dissect a rat. Though I didn’t go into medicine, anyone raised in our household learned an impressive amount of biology just sitting around the dinner table. Consequently, I’ve always loved fiction with a medical bent. My mother was also the one to introduce me to historical fiction, so perhaps I was fated to write a historical novel with a nurse protagonist.

Connie's book list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses

Discover why each book is one of Connie's favorite books.

Why did Connie love this book?

A dual-time story written by a Vanderbilt undergraduate (!), this is the story of a nurse at the Coney Island incubator “exhibit” where premature babies were brought because hospitals did not want to invest in this new technology (yes, this really happened). In 1926, Nurse Anderson takes a failing baby there with intentions of returning it to the parents, and a special education teacher in the 1950s has a connection to that fateful decision. Another fascinating piece of history that is not well known.

By Addison Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Light of Luna Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spirit of The Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours, a historical debut about a nurse who chooses to save a baby's life, and risks her own in the process, exploring the ties of motherhood and the little-known history of Coney Island and America's first incubators.

A nurse's choice. A daughter's search for answers.

New York City, 1926. Nurse Althea Anderson's heart is near breaking when she witnesses another premature baby die at Bellevue Hospital. So when she reads an article detailing the amazing survival rates of babies treated in incubators in an exhibit at Luna Park, Coney…


Intensive Care

By Echo Heron,

Book cover of Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse

Cheryl Dellasega Author Of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

From the list on wellbeing for nurses.

Who am I?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

Cheryl's book list on wellbeing for nurses

Discover why each book is one of Cheryl's favorite books.

Why did Cheryl love this book?

Although younger readers may enjoy Echo’s newer non-fiction titled Emergency Nurses 24/7 captures the challenges and triumphs of nurses as they enter practice or specialty areas for the first time.  After ten years in the intensive care team, she has intriguing stories to share—which may be why her memoir spent 8 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list.

By Echo Heron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a nurse's story unlike any other, because Echo Heron is a very special nurse. Dedicated to healing and helping in the harshest environments, she spent ten years in emergency rooms and intensive care units. Her story is unique, penetrating, and unforgettable. Her story is real.
"Compelling reading."
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS


Florence Nightingale

By Catherine Reef,

Book cover of Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

Amy Gary Author Of In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

From the list on biographies of bold women.

Who am I?

In 1990, Amy Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister’s barn. Since then, Gary has catalogued, edited, and researched all of Margaret’s writings. She has worked with several publishers to publish more than 100 of those manuscripts, which include bestsellers and Caldecott nominees.

Amy’s work on Margaret has been covered in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. Her biography on Margaret, In the Great Green Room, was published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, and was named a best book of the year in 2017 by Amazon.

She was formerly the Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm and headed the publishing department at Pixar Animation studios. In addition to writing, she packages books for retailers and consults with publishers. In that capacity, she has worked with Sam’s Wholesale, Books-a-Million, Sterling Publishers, and Charles Schultz Creative Associates.

Amy's book list on biographies of bold women

Discover why each book is one of Amy's favorite books.

Why did Amy love this book?

I loved the way this book intertwined Florence Nightingale’s story with images of her life. It may have been written for young adults, but readers of any age will be immersed in this well-written and graphically beautiful book. Catherine Reed’s engaging story of Nightingale combating the gruesome hygienic conditions at the Crimean battlefront, going against Victorian society expectations, creating sanitary methods still used today, and earning the moniker of The Lady with the Lamp is a testament to the difference one life can make.

By Catherine Reef,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most people know Florence Nightingale was a compassionate and legendary nurse, but they don't know her full story. She is best known for her work during the Crimean War, when she vastly improved gruesome and deadly conditions and made nightly rounds to visit patients, becoming known around the world as the Lady with the Lamp. Her tireless and inspiring work continued after the war, and her modern methods in nursing became the defining standards still used today. Includes notes, bibliography, and index.


A Very Private Diary

By Mary Morris,

Book cover of A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From the list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Who am I?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Discover why each book is one of Wendy's favorite books.

Why did Wendy love this book?

I chose Mary Morris’s diary because her writing is so engaging. She wrote in June 1940, "We are not allowed to go out with patients, or even speak to them on matters other than their treatment, Pierre is charming. I shall go out with him." In 1944 when she was nursing in Normandy she wrote, "A badly wounded cockney says 'thanks mate' to Hans as he gives him his tea and fixes his pillow. Why are they all so tolerant of each other inside this canvas tent, and killing each other outside?" Through her entries we meet all kinds of people, just like she did. The diary is also part of the history of Irish people in Britain. In the twentieth century the majority of Irish migrants were women, most of them young and single like Mary who was 18 when she arrived to train as a nurse—and was told…

By Mary Morris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The newly discovered diary of a wartime nurse - a fascinating, dramatic and unique insight into the experiences of a young nurse in the Second World War. Mary Mulry was eighteen years old when she arrived in London from Ireland to begin training as a nurse. The year was 1939. She had hoped for an adventure and a new start; she could not have predicted what the next seven years would bring. In this extraordinary diary Mary recorded in intimate detail her experiences as a nurse on the Home Front and later working on the frontline in Europe. In London,…


The War Nurse

By Tracey Enerson Wood,

Book cover of The War Nurse

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Author Of The Sharp Edge of Mercy

From the list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses.

Who am I?

My mother went back to school for her PhD in Anatomy when I was a pre-teen. During the summers of my high school years I worked with her in her lab, and let me tell you, you see your mother in a new light when you see her dissect a rat. Though I didn’t go into medicine, anyone raised in our household learned an impressive amount of biology just sitting around the dinner table. Consequently, I’ve always loved fiction with a medical bent. My mother was also the one to introduce me to historical fiction, so perhaps I was fated to write a historical novel with a nurse protagonist.

Connie's book list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses

Discover why each book is one of Connie's favorite books.

Why did Connie love this book?

Based on a real-life WWI nurse, this novel is about Julia Stimson who supervised dozens of British nurses in Rouen, France. Horrific battle injuries and a deadly influenza that infiltrates their camp put Julia to the test, all while she tries to advocate for her nursing staff and navigate the egos of some of the male doctors. But when one doctor falls for her, she must decide how this relationship squares with her career aspirations. This book is a wonderful way to learn about this amazing woman who wants to put her career first.

By Tracey Enerson Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Any readers who enjoyed the mix of romance, intrigue, and medical accuracy of Call the Midwife will love The War Nurse."-New York Journal of Books
"[An] impeccably researched, well-drawn, based-on-a-true-story tale, written by a former RN...The War Nurse shines an important light on a woman whose story was, until now, lost to time."-Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
Based on a true story, The War Nurse is a sweeping historical novel by USA Today bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.
She asked dozens of…


A Duty to the Dead

By Charles Todd,

Book cover of A Duty to the Dead

Eleanor Kuhns Author Of Murder on Principle

From the list on historical mysteries with a dash of social commentary.

Who am I?

I love the mysteriousness of the past. Learning dates or the importance of battles does not yield understanding. Skillfully written historical fiction can make a reader live history—in a twelfth-century abbey or nursing in WWI. The characters I find the most gripping are outsiders: a Black man always in danger of capture and slavery, and investigating the murders of the marginalized; a monk, once a crusader, who sees human frailties clearly; or a Victorian lady, restless under the constraints of her time, who marries beneath her. Why murder mysteries? Because, although murder is forbidden in almost every culture and every religion, we still kill each other. 

Eleanor's book list on historical mysteries with a dash of social commentary

Discover why each book is one of Eleanor's favorite books.

Why did Eleanor love this book?

Bess Crawford is a nurse during WWI. While tending a wounded soldier, she promises him she’ll deliver a message to his brother back in England. Several months later, wounded herself and on leave, Bess takes a trip to the soldier’s village. But his brother is indifferent to the message and in fact seems indifferent to his brother’s death. Bess realizes she’s stepped into a hornet’s nest of old secrets. The setting is so well described I felt like I was there, in the middle of World War I and in danger from the secrets someone will kill to protect. I finished it in two sittings, unable to sleep until I knew what happened.

By Charles Todd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Duty to the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Another winner....Todd again excels at vivid atmosphere and the effects of war in this specific time and place. Grade: A.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

“Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs, the intrepid World War I battlefield nurse in Jacqueline Winspear’s novels…are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.”
—New York Times Book Review

 

Charles Todd, author of the resoundingly acclaimed Ian Rutledge crime novels (“One of the best historical series being written today” —Washington Post Book World) debuts an exceptional new protagonist, World War I nurse Bess Crawford, in A Duty to the Dead. A…


Heroines of Mercy Street

By Pamela D. Toler,

Book cover of Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War

Carolyn P. Schriber Author Of Damned Yankee

From the list on what historians don’t tell you on the American Civil War.

Who am I?

I’ve experimented with many careers during my adult life. I’ve been a nanny, high school Latin teacher, noontime talk-show hostess, computer instructor, college history professor, and president of a four-state charitable organization. But nothing has so occupied my passion as exploring and writing stories about America’s Civil War. Becoming an author was a career choice I made after I retired at the age of 65. I began with a small collection of letters written by my great uncle shortly before his death on a Civil War battlefield. My continuing inspiration comes from the enthusiasm of my readers who want to learn more than their history books offer. 

Carolyn's book list on what historians don’t tell you on the American Civil War

Discover why each book is one of Carolyn's favorite books.

Why did Carolyn love this book?

The death toll of the Civil War was horrendous, the list of the wounded? Endless. Medical schools did not exist; doctor trained their assistants. There were no emergency rooms, no hospitals, no triage, and certainly no female nurses to care for those bleeding male bodies. In many respects, the medical profession was born on Civil War battlefields with the brave women who ventured among the dead and dying to staunch the flow of blood. So, who were the women who emerged from their sheltered lives to care for wounded soldiers in the Northern army? I wrote about one of them—Nellie Chase—but I thought she was an exception. These stories of the women who joined the Northern war effort expanded my knowledge beyond my wildest expectations.

By Pamela D. Toler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heroines of Mercy Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A look at the lives of the real nurses depicted in the PBS show Mercy Street.

Heroines of Mercy Street tells the true stories of the nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia, mansion turned war-time hospital and setting for the PBS drama Mercy Street. Among the Union soldiers, doctors, wounded men from both sides, freed slaves, politicians, speculators, and spies who passed through the hospital in the crossroads of the Civil War, were nurses who gave their time freely and willingly to save lives and aid the wounded. These women saw casualties on a scale Americans had never seen…


Far Gone

By Danielle Girard,

Book cover of Far Gone

Marcy McCreary Author Of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

From the list on memorable female detectives/investigators.

Who am I?

I'm the author of two police procedural mysteries, a series that features a father/daughter detective team. I write in the traditional mystery genre for the simple reason that I'm a passionate reader of this genre, and always have been. I enjoy the structure of a whodunnit—the pacing, red herrings, clues, plot twists, reveals—and love constructing a multi-layered mystery that is both engaging and suspenseful. I’m a big fan of the masters of this genre: Agatha Christie, PD James, Dick Francis, and Val McDermid. I’m also an avid watcher of police procedural television series, and I’m especially drawn to the darker investigative stories you find in programs like The Killing, Mare of Easttown, and The Wire.

Marcy's book list on memorable female detectives/investigators

Discover why each book is one of Marcy's favorite books.

Why did Marcy love this book?

Detective Kylie Millard returns to her investigative duties in this second book in the Badlands Thriller series when she’s called to a murder scene of a young couple and a missing baby. Like the first book in the series, White Out, the writing is taut and the pacing is brisk. But what I especially love about this book is the intertwining narratives of the three female characters—Kylie, Lily, and Hannah—and how these disparate stories eventually come together. Quite the twist at the end!

By Danielle Girard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today bestselling author of White Out comes a story of two heroines with shattered pasts and a town with blood on its hands.

When a North Dakota couple is shot down in their home in cold blood, the sleepy town of Hagen wakes with a jolt. After all, it's usually such a peaceful place. But Detective Kylie Milliard knows better.

Despite not handling a homicide investigation in years, Kylie is on the case. A drop of blood found at the scene at first blush promises to be her best evidence. But it ultimately only proves that someone…


Book cover of The Man in the Window

Molly D. Campbell Author Of The World Came to Us

From the list on unforgettable characters.

Who am I?

As a novelist, I focus on the characters in my books, and the plot is woven around them. I'm a people-watcher, and I remember bits and pieces of the folks I observe—many of which find their way into my novels. As a reader, plot pulls me in, but it is the characters that I remember. As a novelist, I always begin with a cast of characters: I start with a physical quirk, a personality flaw, an offbeat way of seeing things. Then I add a plot. For me, plot is the hardest. There are hundreds of characters swimming around in my imagination (see my first book, Characters in Search of a Novel).

Molly's book list on unforgettable characters

Discover why each book is one of Molly's favorite books.

Why did Molly love this book?

Perhaps this was an inspiration for my own novel. It is about Louis, who has not left his house in sixteen years, due to his disfigured face. I won’t ruin the book, but I must say that it is written with great tenderness and understanding, and the characters are luminous. 

This book has stayed with me for years. Cohen weaves a bit of magic into his writing, and though the topic is sad on the surface, its two main characters will fill the reader with deep love and great satisfaction.

By Jon Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man in the Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An off-beat love story alternately deeply moving and laugh-aloud funny. Good Housekeeping Jon Cohen conjures magic, weaving a gentle romantic fantasy of piercing and eccentric beauty. Boston GlobeSince he was disfigured in a fire sixteen years ago, recluse Louis Malone has remained hidden from the prying eyes of his neighbors in the small town of Waverly.Across town, Iris Shula, a lonely and unlovely nurse knows, at thirty-seven, it is unlikely that her Prince Charming will ever appear. But Iris is about to learn how wrong she is.When Louis accidently falls out of his second story window these two kindred souls…


Fire by Night

By Lynn Austin,

Book cover of Fire by Night

Rhonda Ortiz Author Of In Pieces

From the list on historical romances for armchair Theologians.

Who am I?

I’m a writer married to a theologian. My husband and I often discuss Augustine and Aquinas, Austen and Tolstoy, Christie and Sayers, and trends in popular fiction—when we’re not discussing Frog and Toad, Elephant and Piggie, baby diapers, and what to make for dinner. Love stories have long been my favorite stories, and I’ve always enjoyed historical settings. My award-winning novel In Pieces, a 1793 Boston-set historical romance with elements of family drama, society drama, and political suspense, combines all these interests. I even managed to sneak in a diaper-changing scene.

Rhonda's book list on historical romances for armchair Theologians

Discover why each book is one of Rhonda's favorite books.

Why did Rhonda love this book?

Few topics rouse people’s ire faster than women’s issues. Within Christianity we find a wide range of theologies, left and right. Lynn Austin’s Fire by Night, about a Civil War nurse, takes up questions of gender roles and woman as man’s “helpmeet” (cf. Genesis 2:18) and threads the needle between the various schools of thought in a faithful, mature, real-to-life way.

By Lynn Austin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fire by Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two young women in a land shattered by war test the limits of their strength

Lovely Julia Hoffman has always enjoyed the carefree life of her well-to-do Philadelphia family. But when she fails to attract the attention of Nathaniel Greene, a fierce abolitionist, she shocks her family by becoming a Union nurse. Will that be enough to win Nathaniel's heart?

Phoebe Bigelow, from western Virginia, has always been a misfit, and when her brothers join the Union army, she also enlists--under false pretenses.

Soon, both have their eyes opened to the realities of war and suffering. Neither is quite ready…


An Irish Hostage

By Charles Todd,

Book cover of An Irish Hostage

Helen Webster Author Of Company Wife

From the list on strong women who have survived restrictions.

Who am I?

I have seen Degas’ astonishing paintings in the Quai d’Orsy in Paris and his wonderful sculptures of ballerinas. So I was immediately drawn to this book. Like most people who admire his incredible work, I had no idea of the pain suffered by the girls who saw the ballet as a way to rise above their pitiful lives. Nor did I know the stories behind the abuse of Degas’ models. It is difficult when we have to try to separate the works of genius from the horrible things geniuses did.

Helen's book list on strong women who have survived restrictions

Discover why each book is one of Helen's favorite books.

Why did Helen love this book?

As a student of history I am impressed with the research that underpins this series, and especially the life of ordinary people in Ireland following the  Easter 1916 uprising. The whole Bess Crawford series tells the story of Bess, a strong-willed, independent woman who serves as a battlefield nurse in World War One. She needs all her courage and intelligence to survive then and in all of her ventures. Society’s expectations of women and how they should behave were dramatically changed during and following the Great War. How was it possible to expect a woman who had nursed on battlefields or driven an ambulance through enemy territory to return to a life of ‘proper’ behaviour, of tea and cucumber sandwiches, and absolute obedience to her husband?

An Irish Hostage finds Bess in Ireland at the wedding of a friend, only to become embroiled in the trouble and treachery following the…

By Charles Todd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Irish Hostage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"[Readers] are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford . . . While her sensibility is as crisp as her narrative voice, Bess is a compassionate nurse who responds with feeling."- The New York Times Book Review

In the uneasy peace following World War I, nurse Bess Crawford runs into trouble and treachery in Ireland-in this twelfth book in the New York Times bestselling mystery series.

The Great War is over-but in Ireland, in the wake of the bloody 1916 Easter Rising, anyone who served in France is now considered a traitor, including nurse Eileen Flynn…


The Daughters of Mars

By Thomas Keneally,

Book cover of The Daughters of Mars

Joanna Higgins Author Of In the Fall They Leave

From the list on WWI Angels of Mercy.

Who am I?

Although I’m neither a healthcare professional nor a historian, my passions are reading great fiction and continually striving to write it. Degrees in literature led to college teaching and then full-time writing. And that, to the publication of six works of fiction, including four historical novels. So, add to the mix, then, the years spent studying and teaching literature as well as those spent writing and rewriting—and, too, being an inveterate reader—and you have, in brief, the sum of my expertise. Each of the works listed below, I feel, has super qualities. I certainly enjoyed reading such masterful work and hope you will as well.   

Joanna's book list on WWI Angels of Mercy

Discover why each book is one of Joanna's favorite books.

Why did Joanna love this book?

As a writer, I found so much to admire in The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally. Simply put, it’s epic. I was blown away by Kenneally’s Tolstoian precision of narrative and by the drama of two sisters who leave their confined lives in Australia and serve as nurses in WWI, first on a hospital ship in the Mediterranean and then on the Western Front. Keneally recreates a full sense of the times, showing how individuals can become enmeshed and shaped by huge historical events. The sisters confront not only the terrible effects of war but also a secret that haunts them. This is a stunning, multi-layered novel by a master, The Daughters of Mars has earned numerous accolades—and no wonder. It’s beautifully written and deeply affecting.  

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Daughters of Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front. Yet they find courage in the face of extreme danger and become the friends they never were before. And eventually they meet the kind of men worth giving up their precious independence for - if only they all survive.

At once epic in scope and extraordinarily intimate,…


Book cover of Kate Cumming's Civil War Journal

Jocelyn Green Author Of Wedded to War

From the list on women nurses during the Civil War.

Who am I?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, the Historical Novel Society, and the Military Writers Society of America.

Jocelyn's book list on women nurses during the Civil War

Discover why each book is one of Jocelyn's favorite books.

Why did Jocelyn love this book?

This journal gives us a look into the experiences of Confederate nurse, Kate Cumming. She was educated and intelligent, but blind to the wrongs of slavery in her passion for the Southern cause. Her experience as a Civil War nurse offers a contrast to those of Union nurses.

By Kate Cumming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kate Cumming's Civil War Journal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Scottish-born, Alabama-bred Kate Cumming was one of the first women to offer her services for the care of the South's wounded soldiers. Her detailed journal, first published in 1866, provides a riveting look behind the lines of Civil War action in depicting civilian attitudes, army medical practices, and the administrative workings of the Confederate hospital system.


Notes on Nursing

By Florence Nightingale,

Book cover of Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

Lisa M. Lane Author Of Murder at Old St. Thomas's

From the list on the wonders of Victorian medicine.

Who am I?

I have always been interested in the history of medicine, particularly the ways in which historical methods are portrayed to be inferior to modern medicine. As a historian, I am alternately amused and horrified at the way we go overboard in discarding historical methods of healthcare, ridding ourselves of perfectly useful techniques, drugs, and therapies. The more I learn about older curative methods, the more I’ve become sensitive to the knowledge and technologies that have been lost. At the same time, I am fascinated by new technologies, and find anesthesia particularly captivating as a technique that improved survival and recovery from what had previously been deadly conditions.

Lisa's book list on the wonders of Victorian medicine

Discover why each book is one of Lisa's favorite books.

Why did Lisa love this book?

Although known for being the “Lady with the Lamp” during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was also a statistician and tireless crusader for more hygienic conditions in hospitals both temporary and permanent. This book explains how to nurse a loved one or client at home, and includes advice we should follow today, particularly about ventilation in the sickroom. When she herself became ill later in life, she became a sofa-bound activist, influencing policies via correspondence. Nightingale founded a nursing school at St. Thomas’s Hospital, and the nurse probationers featured in my book attended her school. Mrs. Sarah Wardroper, a character in the novel, was Nightingale’s lieutenant in real life.

By Florence Nightingale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notes on Nursing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, Notes of Nursing was the first book of its kind. It was originally published when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. Its topics were of vital importance for the well-being and recovery of patients, when hospitals were riddled with infection.

In this edition, Mark Stinson adds his commentary, writing that this book "portrays the background for understanding the historical evolution from Nightingale’s experiences and sine qa non of her day to today’s utilization of evidence-based medicine in healthcare. The Nightingale legacy is also a call to…


Fatal Decision

By Terri Arthur,

Book cover of Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell, World War I Nurse

Joanna Higgins Author Of In the Fall They Leave

From the list on WWI Angels of Mercy.

Who am I?

Although I’m neither a healthcare professional nor a historian, my passions are reading great fiction and continually striving to write it. Degrees in literature led to college teaching and then full-time writing. And that, to the publication of six works of fiction, including four historical novels. So, add to the mix, then, the years spent studying and teaching literature as well as those spent writing and rewriting—and, too, being an inveterate reader—and you have, in brief, the sum of my expertise. Each of the works listed below, I feel, has super qualities. I certainly enjoyed reading such masterful work and hope you will as well.   

Joanna's book list on WWI Angels of Mercy

Discover why each book is one of Joanna's favorite books.

Why did Joanna love this book?

Terri Arthur, a retired registered nurse, obviously wrote Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell, World War I Nurse, as an homage to a British nurse whose heroism not only saved hundreds of Allied lives when the penalty for doing so was death by execution but also inspired thousands to join the Allied war effort. I appreciated the numerous historical photographs throughout this prize-winning biographical novel. The narrative and incorporated historical context beautifully dramatize the courageous actions and inner life of a great WWI hero. In an Author’s Note, Terri Arthur states that her intention in telling the story of Edith Cavell in fictional form was so that readers could fully experience Cavell’s “amazing journey.” For me, Arthur achieved her objective. This is history richly conveyed,  

By Terri Arthur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An inspiring story everyone should know…and will never forget!

Based on historical fact, this captivating novel tells the story of the legendary Edith Cavell, a British nurse whose duties as a healer clashed with the demands of a ruthless occupying regime during World War I. At the request of a brilliant,
hot-headed surgeon, Edith went from London to Brussels to create Belgium's first school of nursing. At the height of her success, the German army marched into neutral Belgium and took over her hospital and school.

Knowing the dangers of working against the repressive and brutal control of the German…


Book cover of Russia's Sisters of Mercy and the Great War: More Than Binding Men's Wounds

Joshua A. Sanborn Author Of Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

From the list on Russia in World War I.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of history at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been studying Russia ever since visiting the Soviet Union as a college student in 1990. I’ve been particularly interested in seeking connections between violence and other dimensions of historical experience. My first book (Drafting the Russian Nation) explored connections between political ideologies and violence, Imperial Apocalypse is in part a social history of violence, and my current project is examining the connection between literary cultures, professional communities, and the violence of the Cold War.

Joshua's book list on Russia in World War I

Discover why each book is one of Joshua's favorite books.

Why did Joshua love this book?

Stoff’s work on women’s history during the war has been consistently excellent, starting with her book on women soldiers and continuing with this book. One of the most significant developments of the war was the need to dramatically expand medical care, especially for sick and wounded soldiers. Women rushed in to fill this need, with significant consequences not only for the health of the army but also the nature of gender and sexual relations throughout the whole country.

By Laurie S. Stoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia's Sisters of Mercy and the Great War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They are war stories, filled with danger and deprivation, excitement and opportunity, sorrow and trauma, scandal and controversy-and because they are the war stories of nurses, they remain largely untold. Laurie Stoff's pioneering work brings the wartime experiences of Russia's "Sisters of Mercy" out of the shadows to show how these nurses of the Great War, far from merely binding wounds, provided vital services that put them squarely in traditionally "masculine" territory, both literally and figuratively.

While Russian nursing shared many features of women's medical service in other nations, it was in some ways profoundly different. Like soldiers and doctors,…


We Band of Angels

By Elizabeth M. Norman,

Book cover of We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan

Eileen A. Bjorkman Author Of The Fly Girls Revolt: The Story of the Women Who Kicked Open the Door to Fly in Combat

From the list on hidden histories of women in the military.

Who am I?

I work in aviation, so it was natural to write about it when I started as a freelance writer. But I quickly realized that writing about aviation people is much more interesting than writing about airplanes. Because of my military background I found myself writing veterans’ stories. I’ve uncovered many stories that have never been told or have been forgotten over the years. And because I was in the Air Force in the 1980s and 1990s, I knew the events in my new book had never been told. During my research, I found more books with hidden histories and rediscovered some I read decades ago. This list is my favorites.

Eileen's book list on hidden histories of women in the military

Discover why each book is one of Eileen's favorite books.

Why did Eileen love this book?

This is the story of 99 Army and Navy nurses who I consider the first U.S. women to serve in combat.

The women endured four months of harrowing bombings, dwindling supplies, and disease as they tended to U.S. casualties from the Japanese invasion of The Philippines in the early days of WWII.

After U.S. forces surrendered, 77 of the nurses were interred in civilian camps in the Philippines until February 1945. The women continued to work as nurses while enduring starvation diets and disease.

Part of my fascination with this story of strength and courage also lies with the fact that one of my great uncles was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. I like to think that my uncle encountered one of these wonderful women at some point.

By Elizabeth M. Norman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We Band of Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fall of 1941, the Philippines was a gardenia-scented paradise for the American Army and Navy nurses stationed there. War was a distant rumor, life a routine of easy shifts and dinners under the stars. On December 8 all that changed, as Japanese bombs began raining down on American bases in Luzon, and this paradise became a fiery hell. Caught in the raging battle, the nurses set up field hospitals in the jungles of Bataan and the tunnels of Corregidor, where they tended to the most devastating injuries of war, and suffered the terrors of shells and shrapnel.
 
But…


Between the Lines

By Audrey Fawcett Cahill,

Book cover of Between the Lines: Diaries and Letters from Elsie Inglis's Russian Unit

Wendy Moore Author Of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

From the list on women’s experiences in WW1.

Who am I?

Wendy Moore is a journalist and author of five non-fiction books on medical and social history. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, Times, Observer and Lancet. Her new book is about Endell Street Military Hospital which was run and staffed by women in London in the First World War.

Wendy's book list on women’s experiences in WW1

Discover why each book is one of Wendy's favorite books.

Why did Wendy love this book?

History is just “one damned thing after another” is a common phrase. For me this is the book which has led me to my next project. Cahill traces the story of the women who went to Russia in 1916 with the voluntary outfit the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Set up by a Scottish surgeon, Elsie Inglis, the SWH became the biggest women’s medical organisation serving abroad in the war. The SWH women ran hospitals in France, Serbia and Russia. Here Cahill tells the story of their astonishing adventures in Russia – driving ambulances close to the firing line, retreating with the Serbian and Russian armies, surviving the cold, food shortages and the Russian Revolution – through the women’s own words. It’s staggering stuff – and great material for my next book about one of those incredible women pioneers.

By Audrey Fawcett Cahill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between the Lines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shipped from UK, please allow 10 to 21 business days for arrival. First Published by PENTLAND, EDINBURGH, 1999 BETWEEN THE LINES: Letters and Diaries from Elsie Inglis's Russian Unit. Arranged and edited by Audrey Fawcett Cahill. 372 p., ill., maps A very good, near fine soft-cover copy.


With Love, Wherever You Are

By Dandi Daley Mackall,

Book cover of With Love, Wherever You Are

Christine Kohler Author Of No Surrender Soldier

From the list on going beyond bombs and how war affects families.

Who am I?

As a lover of history, when I lived in Hawaii, Japan, and Guam, I visited World War II sites. I had a fascinating career as a political reporter. I reported on a “Christmas Drop,” a tradition since WWII. On Johnston Atoll, I did photojournalism on the incineration of chemical weapons from East Germany. I interviewed a Kuwaiti sheik and human shields during Desert Storm. I covered negotiations when the Philippines didn’t renew US military base leases. While at the San Antonio Express News, I researched the WWII Japanese soldier, Shoichi Yokoi, who hid on Guam for nearly 28 years. That was the seed for my novel No Surrender Soldier

Christine's book list on going beyond bombs and how war affects families

Discover why each book is one of Christine's favorite books.

Why did Christine love this book?

Author Dandi Daley Mackall wrote With Love, Wherever You Are after reading a trunk-load of letters exchanged by her parents during their years as a nurse and doctor on the battlefields of Europe during World War II. Mackall's novel is based on genealogical research and is a story about people and the matters of their hearts, instead of military strategies and battles. Mackall was closer in time, though, since With Love, Wherever You Are is about her parents and set during the 1940s. She had access to primary sources in her research. As “The Greatest Generation” is passing away, it’s important that authors like Mackall are preserving these biographical stories.

By Dandi Daley Mackall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked With Love, Wherever You Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone knows that war romances never last . . .
After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen Eberhart Daley, an army nurse, and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time.

Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real―and their marriage more and more like a distant dream. If they make it through the war, will their marriage survive?

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are is an adult novel from beloved…


Book cover of Reminiscences of My Life in Camp: An African American Woman's Civil War Memoir

Jocelyn Green Author Of Wedded to War

From the list on women nurses during the Civil War.

Who am I?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, the Historical Novel Society, and the Military Writers Society of America.

Jocelyn's book list on women nurses during the Civil War

Discover why each book is one of Jocelyn's favorite books.

Why did Jocelyn love this book?

Many African American women served as nurses, especially in the South, as Susie King Taylor did. But their stories have largely gone unrecorded. This memoir adds an important perspective to any consideration of Civil War nurses.

By Susie King Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reminiscences of My Life in Camp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Near the end of her classic wartime account, Susie King Taylor writes, ""There are many people who do not know what some of the colored women did during the war."" For her own part, Taylor spent four years - without pay or formal training - nursing sick and wounded members of a black regiment of Union soldiers. In addition, she worked as a camp cook, laundress, and even teacher. Written from a perspective unique in the literature of the Civil War, ""Reminiscences of My Life in Camp"" not only chronicles daily life on the battlefront but also records interactions between…