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Publishers Weekly, 2010-04-05 In the heady days preceding WWI, two thrill-seeking motorcycle enthusiasts chucked their comfortable lives to join a small group of British women providing medical care on the Belgian front lines. Atkinson (Suffragettes in Pictures) utilizes wartime journals, interviews, family genealogies, and a sanctioned contemporary biography to give life to the pair of spirited friends who displayed extraordinary courage and plenty of attitude. Elsie Knocker, 30, was a divorced mother of one, and a trained midwife from a unconventionally broad-minded middle-class background; Mairi Gooden-Chisholm was an upper-class Scottish teenager. Together they found their calling in Pervyse, Belgium, as they drove packed frontline ambulances and nursed wounded soldiers in the midst of shelling and gravely unhygienic conditions. Elsie, unimpressed with visiting Marie Curie, who had created a mobile X-ray unit, effectively employed new, and potentially life-saving, methods of treating the soldiers for shock with simple rest, warmth, and comfort before shipping them to hospitals,. The startling end of the women's friendship remains the subject of speculation. And though the lack of footnotes is lamentable, , Atkinson details the gritty effects of trench warfare while fully celebrating the exploits of two intensely linked young women who benefited hundreds of lives. 14 pages of photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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