And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II

Written by Evelyn M. Monahan Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
Review by John R. Vallely

Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee are the authors of All This Hell, a dramatic account of U.S. Army nurses caught in the Philippines and imprisoned by the Japanese. Their latest history discusses American nurses in the Mediterranean and Northwest European campaigns of World War II. These authors are part of a growing number of writers and historians who remind us that war and combat are not, and have never been, the exclusive domain of men. The successors to Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton that they write of were as close to frontline fire as their duties and missions would allow. Charged with caring for the wounded, these intrepid women were challenged in ways they never thought possible in their pre-war careers. Each of the 59,283 women who served had a unique story to tell of her experiences, and the authors have selected a representative sample that provides us with a window into their wards and first aid stations. Their stories also permit the reader to experience their fears and heartbreak as they went through a daily routine coping with the soldiers and airmen who were part of the charnel houses of ground and air combat.