And If I Perish
Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II
Publication Date: November 9, 2004
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In World War II, 59,000 women voluntarily risked their lives for their country as U.S. Army nurses. When the war began, some of them had so little idea of what to expect that they packed party dresses; but the reality of service quickly caught up with them, whether they waded through the water in the historic landings on North African and Normandy beaches, or worked around the clock in hospital tents on the Italian front as bombs fell all around them.
For more than half a century these women’s experiences remained untold, almost without reference in books, historical societies, or military archives. After years of reasearch and hundreds of hours of interviews, Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee have created a dramatic narrative that at last brings to light the critical role that women played throughout the war. From the North African and Italian Campaigns to the Liberation of France and the Conquest of Germany, U.S. Army nurses rose to the demands of war on the frontlines with grit, humor, and great heroism. A long overdue work of history, And If I Perish is also a powerful tribute to these women and their inspiring legacy.
Evelyn M. Monahan, a retired psychologist, served in the Women's Army Corps from 1961 until 1967 as a corpsman and psychiatric technician. She subsequently took her M.Ed. and Ph.D. at Georgia State University and her M.Div. in theology and ethics at Emory University. She worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs from 1980 to 1996.
Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps on active duty from 1962 until 1965, and on reserve duty between 1989 and 1991. She has a master's degree in nursing from Emory University, and worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Atlanta from 1981 to 2002.
Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee are co-authors (with Agnes Jensen Mangerich) of Albanian Escape: The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines and co-authors of All This Hell: U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese.
"An important corrective to the current historical record . . . and a worthy memorial to those who died in action." --Jill Ker Conway, author of The Road from Coorain
“The contributions and sacrifices of American nurses in World War II were ignored for decades. . . . Read this book, and remember them all.” —San Francisco Chronicle
"Battle by battle, in vivid, newsreel-like fashion, the authors dramatically portray the heroic efforts of courageous women who experienced the war at its most horrific and heartrending levels."--Booklist
"Pioneering research. . . . Notable for the selfless yet matter-of-fact attitude of the nurses as they describe their contributions, the book gives deserved recognition to this neglected aspect of military and women’s history."--Library Journal
“An extremely valuable addition to the historical perspective of nursing. . . . I felt as if I were there; I could smell the canvas of the tents and I could feel the scorching heat and the bitter cold. . . . The writer made the nurses and their stories come alive. . . .Quite simply, the entire book [is] outstanding.” –Lt. Col. Mary S. Nelson, USAF, NC, Military Medicine
“A laudatory account of the plucky American women–nearly 60,000 of them–who served in and near combat zones in the Mediterranean and European theaters of war from 1942 to 1945. . . . A nice tribute.” –Kirkus Reviews
“This compelling book tells the moving stories of World War II heroines who were never recognized, the nurses of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. They were courageous, tireless, and committed to serving on the front lines of the war. They saved and rebuilt lives, and they gave many of us–including myself–a most valuable gift: hope.” –Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Medal of Honor recipient
“From the onset of the North African campaign until the conquest of Germany, the nurses of the U.S. Army Corps endured the same hardships, danger, overwhelming sacrifices, and risk to life as the soldiers they were destined to save, Heroines all, their story begs to be told.” –Adm. Frances Shea Buckley, former Director, U.S. Naval Nurse Corps
“I could not put this book down. The untold story of these brave young women who sacrificed their health and safety to care for the wounded during the many battles of World War II is inspiring. It is a marvelous portrayal of nursing at its best.” –Col. Elizabeth P. Finn, U.S. Army Nurse Corps (retired)
“A powerful account. . . . The stress of working in a hostile environment challenged them physically, mentally, emotionally, and clinically. Yet they never wavered from their duties. They served despite the fact they were not accorded equality with their comrades.” –Brig. Gen. Connie L. Slewitzke, U.S. Army (ret.), former Director, U.S. Army Nurse Corps
“A priceless contribution to the rich legacy of army nurses. A masterpiece, this book pulls no punches as the authors graphically paint a picture of hardship, horror, pain, death, and unbelievable dedication to duty.”–Maj. Debora Cox, former U.S. Army Nurse Corps Historian