And If I Perish

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II brings to life the heroism and generally neglected experiences of the women who served as American Army nurses, offering gripping first-person accounts of what it was like for these women who came face-to-face with war in the European Theater. For the most part, scant attention has been paid to the thousands of Army nurses, soldiers who willingly volunteered to serve in combat zones as nurses, facing the same dangers as their male counterparts whose lives they worked so diligently to save.

Using extensive interviews, correspondence and diaries, as well as material from archives and published sources, Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee bring these women to life, offering gripping accounts of what they saw, thought, feared and longed for. The book’s vivid descriptions are made more compelling because the nurses speak for themselves through excerpts from their interviews, letters, and journals. The picture their stories combine to offer readers shows how much military nurses sacrificed for American fighting troops, acts of heroism that often went unreported and unappreciated by those who had no direct contact with these brave women.

Arranged chronologically, starting with the involvement of Army nurses in the very early part of World War II, And If I Perish follows the war—and the Army nurse—as American troops fight first in North Africa, then Italy, and finally in France and Germany. Like their male counterparts whose experiences have received ample public and scholarly attention, Army nurses saw it all. The authors employ these nurses’ own words to take readers into the war: alongside women landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, into their tent hospitals in France, and to the Battle of the Bulge.

And If I Perish does an excellent job of spotlighting these brave nurses’ lives, and sometimes deaths, women who voluntarily left their careers, families, and the safety of their home country to sacrifice themselves to care for injured troops. The book stands as a fitting tribute to a group of soldiers whose stories for so long have been allowed to remain untold.