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Paradise General by Dave Hnida

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Most people get a glimpse into what war-torn countries look like only through pictures and movies. But Dave Hnida, author of Paradise General, has seen and written about the worst Iraq has to offer. A riveting memoir by a ssurgeon at a “MASH” -like army hospital, Paradise General is full of horrifying medical cases, hilarious pranks of bored troops and a first person account of the mental toll war can take on a person. At times, I found myself wondering if I should be laughing, crying or puking. This book really made me appreciate the men and women giving up a part of their lives to protect and serve our nation.

The countless lives saved by doctors and nurses like Hnida, each deserve to have the stories told. Hnida does an excellent job of weaving together these stories while showing how devastating war truly is. While we may not all be fighting or serving with the military, no one’s life is untouched by war. We all are affected by the daily struggle over in the middle-east. I found it really easy to relate to this book and very assuring to know the lives of our families and loved ones overseas are in such good care. They were who they needed to be, when they needed to be; doctors, deliverers of bad news, ssurgeons, angels and artists of hope. They rushed to answer the call even though they had no obligation. That’s courage. It amazed me that the ssurgeons didn’t care who they were saving. Whether it was 22 year old American soldiers or 50 year old Iraqi insurgents, everything was done to save another life.

The author really described the other characters well. He gave me a good sense of their individual personalities without making me feel overwhelmed with detail. As he described the crude medical tents and primitive care units, I was shocked at how many lives had been saved. The other thing that shocked me was how real Hnida was. He didn’t leave out anything, no matter how painful the memory was. He made himself very vulnerable and it really shows through the book. Reading Paradise General was eye opening and debunked many of the rumors I thought to be true about life in Iraq. This narrative showcases the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.



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