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Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a…
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Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq (2010)

by Dr. Dave Hnida

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My emotional reaction to this book echoed my emotional reaction to The Good Soldiers: We should read and reread these books to face the cost of our war in Iraq. It's one thing to read the memoirs of soldiers, and it's a good thing. But it's something else to read about a combat hospital, where day after day, broken body after broken body literally embody the cost of war. These books leave me utterly disgusted with civilian and military leaders who excelled at logistics and failed at humanity.

I am in awe of the soldiers and doctors and medical staff who rise above their leaders to look after one another.

Other than the emotional impact, this book is an easy read, simply illustrating the author's insights and memories of his second tour in Iraq. It was a pleasure to be introduced to Dr. Hnida and get to know him a little bit. I was especially intrigued by his complex motivations for serving: he wanted to understand his father better, and to atone -- or at least act in opposition to -- evils whose aftermath he had witnessed close to home, including Columbine. ( )
  read.to.live | Nov 7, 2012 |
The author's view on the day to day life on a FOB is certainly entertaining and all his descriptions of the work at the hospital are, at the very least, endearing. One can only hope that he will decide to publish a book about his experiences on his first deployment. ( )
  emed0s | Jan 16, 2011 |
Paradise General is a personal memoir about a 3 month tour of duty in a M*A*S*H-like hospital in Iraq in 2007. Dr. Hnida ("Dave") talks about the intense injuries and drama that arrive by helicopter carrying plenty of horrible things like limbs/face/balls/heads blown apart, soldier gang rape, suicides, cancer, etc.. not meant to shock, it's the reality of what they do. Dave is very human, able to show a wide range of emotions such as fear of his first days facing responsibility for someones life, anger at Army protocol that keep him out of the mess tent without socks, compassion for a young mans life who he was unable to save, and good natured humor all around. The many swings of emotion in the book reflect what it's like in an ER and you come out of it a little exhausted, maybe a little changed. To his credit Dave allowed a dozen or more people he worked with to read the unpublished manuscript to correct it for inaccuracies. This of course means we don't get any real dirt or nastiness, but that is alright by me. It's also pleasantly free of political bickering, ideological slant and soap boxing. Dave is an Everyman, volunteering to do his part for his country, making the best of bad situations and happy to return home to wife and kids. Despite the horror of the job, Dave retains a positive outlook and good sense of humor to remind his patients, and us: so long as your alive, everything is good.

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2010 cc-by-nd ( )
  Stbalbach | Jun 12, 2010 |
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The author recounts his experiences as a physician in Iraq after volunteering to work as a surgeon with a combat unit in 2004 and as a trauma chief at a busy Combat Support Hospital in 2007, with anecdotes about his chaotic caseload and adaptation to a military atmosphere.… (more)

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