Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Soldier Doctor: The Story of William Gorgas follows the pattern of many works of author Clara Ingram Judson. Judson uses short vignettes from various time periods in the life of her subject to illustrate the character traits of the person. These brief stories are arranged in chronological order, and together, they give a cumulative impression of what the person was like. It is not the purpose of the author to recount all the events of her subject’s life or even to explore the person’s greatest accomplishments in detail. The highlights of the career of Gorgas are described, but they are of no greater importance than are his personality and character.

Judson points out that Gorgas, one of the great medical scientists in the history of the United States, was a person of great determination. This determination helped him to overcome the poverty of a boyhood in the South in the years immediately after the Civil War, to acquire an education, to achieve his goal of becoming an Army officer, and to accomplish the massive task of making Cuba, Panama, and the southern United States free of yellow fever.

Soldier Doctor begins with the fall of the Confederate capital, Richmond, Vir-ginia, to the Union army in April, 1865. At that time, Gorgas was ten years old. The story continues with his boyhood in Alabama and Tennessee, where he tried repeatedly to win an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. As the son...

(The entire section is 465 words.)