David Nott, a consultant surgeon based in London, has worked for periods in the most harrowing battle zones of our times: Sarajevo, Gaza, Syria, Sierra Leone and Libya. This book is a very personal and inspiring account of what he saw, how he worked, the lives he saved and the lives he lost while working among civilian populations under siege. No details are spared when it comes to describing injuries or surgical procedures, so this book is not for the faint-hearted but is a very good read for medical and nursing personnel. The author is restrained when it comes to allocating blame for the wars in which he works and makes no propaganda. His exclusive aim is to highlight civilian casualties and particularly those of children.
Nott reveals much about his own life and is candid about his strengths and fears under the most difficult of conditions and also on his return to normal life when he marries and becomes a father. His fears for his life in Syria lead him to pray to God and there is a revealing encounter with a heroic Catholic priest in Syria. He mentions that his fiancée goes to a church at lunchtimes to pray for him while he is in Aleppo and the book concludes with a thought-provoking afterword written by her, now his wife, in the course of which she alludes to her own Catholic background. This is a captivating read for anyone in medicine or nursing and who wants to understand some of the terrible humanitarian crises of our times.