• The Great War and the Birth of Modern Medicine

  • A History
  • By: Thomas Helling MD
  • Narrated by: Mack Sanderson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A startling narrative revealing the impressive medical and surgical advances that quickly developed as solutions to the horrors unleashed by World War I.

The Great War of 1914-1918 burst on the European scene with a brutality to mankind not yet witnessed by the civilized world. Modern warfare was no longer the stuff of chivalry and honor; it was a mutilative, deadly, and humbling exercise to wipe out the very presence of humanity. Suddenly, thousands upon thousands of maimed, beaten, and bleeding men surged into aid stations and hospitals with injuries unimaginable in their scope and destruction. Doctors scrambled to find some way to salvage not only life but limb.

The Great War and the Birth of Modern Medicine provides a startling and graphic account of the efforts of teams of doctors and researchers to quickly develop medical and surgical solutions. Those problems of gas gangrene, hemorrhagic shock, gas poisoning, brain trauma, facial disfigurement, broken bones, and broken spirits flooded hospital beds, stressing caregivers and prompting medical innovations that would last far beyond the Armistice of 1918 and would eventually provide the backbone of modern medical therapy.

Thomas Helling’s description of events that shaped refinements of medical care is a riveting account of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of men and women to deter the total destruction of the human body and human mind. His tales of surgical daring, industrial collaboration, scientific discovery, and utter compassion provide an understanding of the horror that laid a foundation for the medical wonders of today. The marvels of resuscitation, blood transfusion, brain surgery, X-rays, and bone setting all had their beginnings on the battlefields of France. The influenza contagion in 1918 was an ominous forerunner of the frightening pandemic of 2020-2021.

For anyone curious about the true terrors of war and the miracles of modern medicine, this is a must-listen.

©2022 Thomas Helling, MD (P)2022 Blackstone Publishing

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Fascinating

Im a physician and there is great satisfaction in learning the deep origins of so much of the ideas guiding medical practice today. Further, more somberly, the dull horror of practicing medicine just outside the gates of Hell is vividly conveyed.

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Interesting but weirdly sexist?

The history itself was interesting enough to get me through to the end of the book, but it was hard in a few places because of how the author addressed women through the book. I'm not, of course, referring to the fact that the involvement of women in the medical efforts of nearly every combatant country was largely ignored. That is, frankly, par for the course in military histories. But nearly every time a woman was mentioned, the author felt the need to actively attack her and her character. For example, after having spent almost no time on any one player's personal history in the first half of the book, the author felt the need to bring up the fact that Marie Currie had an extra-marital affair after her husband's death, just so he could work in calling her a whore. Later on, when discussing a particular Dr who joined a volunteer hospital because he was too old to join a military hospital, even as a Dr, he went on to claim that the woman who founded said hospital was just looking for a distraction to get her out of London because she was bored with her marriage. An unnecessary tangent at its absolute best. It's almost like he took personal offense at the fact that they created a situation where he couldn't ignore them without leaving noticeable gaps in his history. I normally think it's annoying at best when people feel the need to accuse military histories of being sexist because they have a prominent male focus. For the most part, it doesn't seem entirely inappropriate, but this author really just took it too far. I'm curious what the editor and publisher were thinking, too.

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A marvelous book !

Brilliantly researched and beautifully written! A superb exploration of the horrors of WWI and the innovations in medical & surgical care that resulted from the necessities of caring for the wounded and maimed. The narration is stellar!

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Great content, very interesting

This was interesting from start to finish. It keeps you interested in getting to know how medicine evolved.


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Just Wow!

what a history....wow! i got medical education, war stories, and political lessons all in one. good book for study.