A Selection of the History Book Club
Civil War Medicine
Challenges and Triumphs

Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.

ISBN: 1-883620-08-2 Hardcover 512 pages

Catalog # 021 Retail Price: $44.95
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Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.

Maggots and Rats: Nature's Surgeons During the Civil War
Civil War-Era Women Physicians
Treating President Lincoln's Fatal Head Wound

Amputations on screaming, unanesthetized men is the image of Civil War medicine for most people. Dr. Bollet's extensive research has proved that this is a myth. Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs presents the remarkable story of healthcare workers' dedication and heroism in the face of a terrible war.
Using a blend of first-person accounts, historical data, and modern medical knowledge, Dr. Alfred Jay Bollet revisits the battlefields, hospitals, and horrific conditions in which Civil War surgeons had to labor. He details the first dismal year, when a war expected to last a few short months instead left tens of thousands of soldiers dead and wounded. The widely reported tragedies of that year formed the images of Civil War medicine that have endured-even to this day.
Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs shows, however, that after that first year, the medical teams on both sides of the Civil War delivered care and produced survival rates for diseases and injuries far better than either the civilian physicians of the time or European practitioners in subsequent wars. Rising to the unprecedented challenges of an unexpectedly long and brutal war, they developed innovations that later became standard components of battlefield and disaster medicine. In the face of devastating shortages of medical supplies and equipment, Civil War surgeons organized a trained ambulance corps, a field hospital system to care for the wounded, and huge, well-run military hospitals. The first organized nursing corps admirably served both sides-at great personal risk.
Dr. Bollet challenges the outdated images of barbaric and ignorant practitioners-replacing them with a balanced narrative of the heroic efforts of the largely unsung Civil War physicians and nurses. The Civil War provided a true test of American medicine's ability to adapt, innovate, and provide quality care in extraordinary times; Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs shows they did just that.

Advance Praise for
Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs
Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.

A Selection of the History Book Club

"Dr. Bollet has scored an Olympic gold medal with a work that is a perfect "10". He has done a superlative job of setting the record straight about the medical professionals who served in the Northern and Southern armies during the American Civil War. In one volume, he has dispelled many, if not all, of the erroneous "facts" that have been perpetuated since the conflict, some attributed to renowned historians." Peter J. D'Onofrio, Ph.D., President, Society of Civil War Surgeons

"This monumental work delves into all aspects of the subject and tells the true story . . . [it] should become the foundation of every Civil War medical library . . . I recommend this book to individuals who are interested in all aspects of the Civil War. You will find it fascinating."
Gordon E. Dammann, D.D.S., Founder & President, National Museum of Civil War Medicine

"This book will be a gold-mine for historians or re-enactors of Civil War battles."
Dr. John Lattimer, M.D., Sc.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

"Dr. Bollet has . . . written an intelligent and objective appraisal of surgeons and medical practices during the American Civil War. He never hesitates to try and dispel myths and misconceptions, and supports his opinions with pertinent contemporary insights, as well as drawing on the research of others . . . This book should appeal to the medical professional with an interest in Civil War or medical history and, thanks to Dr. Bollet's use of plain language and timely explanations, will appeal to the lay reader interested in these topics as well."
Thomas Adrian Wheat, M.D., Colonel, U.S. Army Medical Dept., Ret., Vice-president, Society of Civil War Surgeons

"Dr. Bollet's prodigious research has led him to conclude that . . . by and large, the physicians and surgeons who worked under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, after a slow start, performed ably, honorably, and heroically, and progressively improved the treatment of the sick and wounded . . . This comprehensive volume contains important information, much of it new, and should be read by all who wish to gain a more complete understanding of the Civil War."
Irving Schulman, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine

"[Dr. Bollet] has performed an invaluable service for the history of military medicine."
William L. Moore, Jr., M.D., Major General, Ret., U.S. Army Medical Corps

What the critics are saying about Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs:

"Put quite simply, this new volume on medical and surgical care during the Civil War is the most accurate and extensive treatment of the subject to date. . . . Along with detailed and balanced information, this work separates fact from fiction, history from folklore, and sets the record straight when it comes to Civil War medicine and surgery. . . . This is not a simple history text but an entertaining and gripping expose of the way injury and illness were treated during this medical era."

Journal of the American Medical Association, May 22/29, 2002, Vol. 287, No. 20

"Dr. Alfred Jay Bollet has scored a hit with Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs. It is the most comprehensive and interesting overview of American Civil War medicine I have read to date. . . . Skillfully written, the book is easily understood by both the professional and the lay reader who cannot help but feel the genuine respect and admiration Bollet has for his Civil War colleagues."

JaNeen M. Smith, Civil War Book Review, Spring 2002

"This single volume, which is ambitious in scope, covers all the major aspects of medical and surgical care during the Civil War. . . . The author’s presentation of case histories is especially effective in making the work not only informative but humanly interesting. The frequent use of illustrations, tables, graphs, and photographs highly complements the work."

The Annals of Internal Medicine, May 21, 2002, Vol. 136, No. 10

"There was a surprise or a rethinking of received knowledge on nearly every page. Bollet is adept and evenhanded in his demolition of old myths and his presentation of documented facts. His book is a nearly perfect blend of text, sidebars, and illustrations. . . . This reviewer believes Bollet’s work will serve as the standard reference for years to come."

Thomas P. Lowry, MD, medscape.com, January 22, 2002

"It is virtually impossible to miss the main point of this engrossing account of the performance of doctors during the course of the war between the states; namely, that their overall record is one of caring, innovation, and dedication. . . . Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs is destined to become a classic. . . . written in economical, jargon-free prose, [it] is bound to attract a diverse readership, from scientists and historians to an assortment of lay professionals."

Robert J. Fikes, Journal of the National Medical Association, June 2002

"In each chapter Dr. Bollet discusses the challenge faced by the surgeon, provides context by describing the knowledge available at the time, debunks long-standing myths when necessary, and addresses the advances and triumphs that are often missed by critics. . . . In my opinion, the best aspect of the book is that Dr. Bollet provides "multiple points of entry": a quick flip through the pages reveals dozens of short and interesting sidebars giving medical anecdotes, biographies, and other items of historical interest that can be read in a few minutes time."

James M. Schmidt, The Civil War News, February/March 2002

Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs by Civil War scholar and historian Dr. Alfred Bollet is a unique, remarkable, comprehensive historical survey and documentation of the courage and heroism of countless healthcare workers during a terrible and voracious war. . . . Intense, graphic, almost disturbing in its exacting attention to some very excruciating details, Civil War Medicine is a singularly excellent reference and well deserving a place with any Civil War studies reference collection or reading list."

The Midwest Book Review, January 2002

"This long awaited study is sure to become a Civil War medical classic. This may become the standard by which all other Civil War medical books are measured. Very, very highly recommended."
Ed Archer
Bohemian Brigade Bookshop

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Table of Contents

1. The Evolution of Battlefield Surgery during the Civil War
2. In the Beginning: Ill-prepared & Overwhelmed
3. Sects & Science: Civil War Medicine in Context
4. Civil War Surgery: Desperate Measures for Desperate Wounds
5. "Thank God for Jonathan Letterman": Field Surgeons, Field Hospitals, & Ambulances
6. Amputations & Excisions: "Experience Teaches"
7. Learning To Treat Wounds: The Surgeons, the Operations, & the Results
8. Wound Infections: Laudable & Not-So-Laudable Pus
9. Civil War Hospitals
10. Treating Disease: Questionable Drugs & "Heroic" Therapies
11. Epidemic Diseases in Recruits
12 Nature's Scourges: Epidemic Diseases on Parade
13. Diseases Among the Troops: Real, Imagined, & Imitated
14. Scurvey & other "Dietic Diseases": Desiccated Vegetables & Deteriorating Health
15. Chronic Diarrhea: It takes Good Guts To Be a Good Soldier
16. Prison Camps: The Most Appalling Story
17. Women of the Civil War: Soldiers, Sisters, & Socialites
18. Re-evaluating Civil War Medical Care: Shattering the Myths


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