Article first published as Book Review: Fragments from Iraq by Zsolt T. Stockinger on Blogcritics.
“[W]hen Allah created hell, it wasn’t terrible enough, so he made Iraq – and added flies.”
Old Arab saying (page 81).
Fragments from Iraq: Diary of a Navy Trauma Surgeon by Zsolt T. Stockinger is a non-fiction book which recounts the daily life of a trauma surgeon on the front line. The book is in diary format written by the doctor which seems as if he was talking to his wife.
- 255 pages
- Publisher: Mcfarland (May 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 078646951X
My rating for Fragments From Iraq – 4
Buy this book in paper format
Fragments from Iraq: Diary of a Navy Trauma Surgeon by Zsolt T. Stockinger relates the daily activities this front line trauma surgeon encountered in his base in Iraq. From the boring daily routine, to the military’s “hurry up and wait” mentality and to the serious injuries, whether from an IED, to local babies, self inflicted wounds and more.
The diary is written in an informal style, but it seemed to me that it was edited and maybe sanitized to make it more palatable to a larger audience. Personally I see no need in doing so; the people who are interested in reading this book do not want the sanitized version.
Dr. Stockinger is a talented writer; his self deprecating humor and charm come through the pages. The narrative moves from medical jargon, to front line anecdotes tangled with “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” manly bravado to the absurdity of the military bureaucracy.
Being an old soldier myself, I couldn’t get over some of the unbelievable stupidity I read which is done, I assume, in the name of the Almighty Buck. For example: set chow times. Dr. Stockinger keeps saying about set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, being a lowly First Sergeant I don’t much about tactics, but I do know that if you want to hurt a lot of people, you destroy areas where they all gather.
You know, like the mass hall.
Which is why the mass hall should be opened 24/7, especially in a dynamic environment.
This, among other blatant security gaps really struck a nerve with me, putting the lives of our troops so someone could make a few bucks extra.
The book is printed in large format (9.9″ x 6.9″), don’t let the page number fool you. Each page is probably equal to two pages in a book printed the size we are used to.
Overall the book was a thoughtful and interesting read, peppered with the good doctor’s own photographs (some gruesome but none shocking). If you were never on the battlefield and want to know what it’s like to save lives from a reliable and entertaining first hand source – this book is for you.
So tell me, would you have preferred to have a diary sanitized or published “as is”?
Zsolt T. Stockinger, a Navy trauma surgeon, served from February 2005 to March 2006 on Iraq’s Sunni Triangle. During this time Dr. Stockinger performed hundreds of surgeries and treated thousands of patients. In his diary, Dr. Stockinger shares with the reader his thoughts and experiences.
The diary offers an insightful look into daily military life from the perspective of a top trauma surgeon.
Buy this book in paper format
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