The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Odyssey

 
9781447275831: The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Odyssey
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Winner of the Alan Paton Award and the South African Booksellers Choice Award

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Review:

Surgeon Jonathan Kaplan has flown around the world on medical assignments, but as his terrific debut book The Dressing Station suggests, he never feels more engaged with life than when among the dying. Born in South Africa with medicine in his blood, Kaplan trained firstly in Cape Town before moving to London. Frustrated by spending cutbacks, he fled for America, where he saw for the first time medicine as a booming economic force, and recalls a surgeon sobbing over a patient mid-operation on hearing of a Wall Street Crash. Figuring this was not the life for him, in Zululand and Kurdistan, with a medical intervention group, he watches parasitic worms emerge from a prone child's nostril, feels for the first time someone physically die under his hand and unsurprisingly develops his own symptoms of fever and interminable nightmares. A stint on a cruise ship introduces alcoholic psychosis in passengers reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, as well as every kind of sexual disease courtesy of South East Asia's fleshpots. Further trips follow, to Mozambique with a film crew, to Burma and to war-ravaged Eritrea, sewing people together whose lives and countries are being ripped apart. Nothing seems to polarise countries more than the demands on its medical practitioners--those that have them.

Now working in occupational medicine in London, specialising appropriately in stress, the committal of Kaplan's experiences to paper can make for grisly reading at times, but his resolve and conscience are as undeniable as his expressive, visceral descriptions. While at times bearing out the adage that what's blood and pus to us is bread and butter to doctors, he doesn't shrink from describing his own shocked emotional reactions, for this is not just an exercise in ghost-busting; he admits that he is still "jostled" by looming spectres, and like Fred Huyler's short fiction based on his experiences working in ER, The Blood of Strangers, his unflinching renderings go beyond anecdote to something more fundamental and vital. At the close, in his London surgery, a businessman snaps "what do you know about death?". Rather a lot, as it happens, as this clinical tour de force so stirringly reveals.--David Vincent

Review:

...exposes the humanity of the most gruesome events with a few unflinching strokes... hardly ever breaking sweat. -- Tim Adams, The Observer

...vivid, honest and unpretentious, he bravely allows jaw-dropping horror to follow moments of hurtful revelation attained in futile blood-red landscapes. -- Paul Dale, The List

Kaplan's memoir is always interesting, sometimes funny, and touches upon some of the deep and nagging questions about the purpose of human existence. -- Anthony Daniels, The Sunday Telegraph

More a meditation on human suffering than a memoir, "The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Odyssey" is forensically observed, clinically recorded -- Esquire

[Kaplan] offers a salutary reminder of what war really means, not only to combatants but also to those caught in the crossfire... -- Sue Cullinan, Time Magazine

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780330480796: The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Odyssey

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ISBN 10:  0330480790 ISBN 13:  9780330480796
Publisher: Picador, 2002
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9780330480802: The Dressing Station: A Surgeon's Odyssey

Picador, 2001
Hardcover

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Book Description Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Winner of the Alan Paton Award and the South African Booksellers Choice AwardJonathan Kaplan has been a hospital surgeon, a flying doctor, a ship's medical officer and a battlefield surgeon. He has worked in places as diverse as Burma, Kurdistan, America, Mozambique, England and Eritrea. The Dressing Station presents a vivid, moving account of the varied faces of medicine he has encountered. In a mixture of reportage, confession and exposition Kaplan talks about the practice of medicine and of its shortcomings, because medicine is not always benign or balanced. At its extremes it is a process of treating the casualties, for life is a war, and being a doctor is serving in that war. 'His account is born of two talents: to save lives and to bear witness. The result is a unique mixture of biography and reportage, both personal and clinical' Time Magazine. Seller Inventory # AAV9781447275831

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Book Description Pan MacMillan, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Winner of the Alan Paton Award and the South African Booksellers Choice AwardJonathan Kaplan has been a hospital surgeon, a flying doctor, a ship's medical officer and a battlefield surgeon. He has worked in places as diverse as Burma, Kurdistan, America, Mozambique, England and Eritrea. The Dressing Station presents a vivid, moving account of the varied faces of medicine he has encountered. In a mixture of reportage, confession and exposition Kaplan talks about the practice of medicine and of its shortcomings, because medicine is not always benign or balanced. At its extremes it is a process of treating the casualties, for life is a war, and being a doctor is serving in that war. 'His account is born of two talents: to save lives and to bear witness. The result is a unique mixture of biography and reportage, both personal and clinical' Time Magazine. Seller Inventory # AAV9781447275831

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