“A small part of what makes Contact Wounds such a gripping memoir is the life it recounts. The larger part . . . stems from Kaplan’s skill as a journalist and a writerhis ability to render people, places and events in vivid and graceful prose.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Surgery is the crude art of cutting people open, yet it is also a symphony of delicate manipulation and subtle chords. So says Jonathan Kaplan in his stunning book Contact Wounds,
an electrifying account of a doctor’s education in the classroom, in life, and on the battlefield. No other field of medicine carries so much individual responsibility as that of a surgeon. Kaplan learned that lesson early from his father, who volunteered as a military surgeon in World War II and subsequently made his way to Israel
to help treat casualties in that country’s nascent fight for statehood.
Kaplan became a doctor and was appointed to a post at a woefully understaffed South African general hospital in a black township. Fleeing apartheid, he traveled the globe in search of sanctuary, experiencing riots, tropical fevers, political upheaval, and a jungle search for a lost friend. Kaplan eventually landed in Angola, taking charge of a combat-zone hospital, the only surgeon for 160,000 civilians, where he was exposed daily to the horrors of war. In Contact Wounds,
Kaplan portrays serving as a volunteer surgeon in Baghdadwhere he treated civilian casualties amid gunfights for control of hospitals and dealt with gangs of AK-47-wielding looters stripping pharmacies and militant Shi’a groups harassing doctors out of operating rooms. Contact Wounds
is a stirring testament of adventure, discovery, survival, and the making of a career devoted to saving people caught in the crossfire of war.