Healing the nation

Soldiers and the culture of caregiving in Britain during the Great War

By Jeffrey Reznick

Healing the nation


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6975-8
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: November 2011
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Military / World War I, Society & social sciences / Charities, voluntary services & philanthropy, Humanities / First World War, History of Medicine, History, First World War, c 1910 to c 1919, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Philanthropy & Charity
  • Series: Cultural History of Modern War


Healing the nation is a study of caregiving during the Great War, exploring life behind the lines for ordinary British soldiers who served on the Western Front. Using a variety of literary, artistic, and architectural evidence, this study draws connections between the war machine and the wartime culture of caregiving: the product of medical knowledge and procedure, social relationships and health institutions that informed experiences of rest, recovery and rehabilitation in sites administered by military and voluntary-aid authorities.

Rest huts, hospitals, and rehabilitation centres served not only as means to sustain manpower and support for the war but also as distinctive sites where soldiers, their caregivers and the public attempted to make sense of the conflict and the unprecedented change it wrought. Revealing aspects of wartime life that have received little attention, this study shows that Britain's 'generation of 1914' was a group bound as much by a comradeship of healing as by a comradeship of the trenches.

The author has used an extensive collection of illustrations in his discussion, and the book will make fascinating reading for students and specialists in the history of war, medicine and gender studies.


'Healing the nation is an extraordinary exploration of how following the devastation of World War One Britain came to terms with the war wounded and how they came to understand themselves. Rarely has a study plumbed the subtleties of the self-image of the wounded victors. Any reader interested in the culture of victory as seen in the medical and cultural of those damaged in war will learn much from Jeffrey Reznick's admirable book.'
Professor Sander L. Gilman, St. Anne's College, Oxford

'Reznick tells a fascinating story with verve and an eye for the big picture. This book makes a substantial contribution to war medicine and the cultural history of war. It has never been done in such a lively and innovative way before.'
Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck College


List of figures
1. Soldiers and the culture of caregiving in Britain during the Great War
2. Homes away from home: Rest huts and war-weary soldiers
3. Havens for heroes: Life in two military hospitals
4. Hospital magazines: Writing about wartime recovery/recovering writing about wartime
5. Wartime convalescence: The case of the convalescent blues
6. Reclaiming the maimed at Shepherd's Bush Military Hospital, London
7. Conclusion: Memories, legacies and landmarks
Select bibliography


Jeffrey S. Reznick is Deputy Chief of the History of Medicine Division at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a member of Birmingham's Centre for First World War Studies and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. [for the dust jacket]: Jeffrey S. Reznick is Executive Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund. A native of Rochester, New York, he received his undergraduate education at the University of Rochester and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. He lives in Washington, DC. This is his first book. To contact the author, please email [email protected]

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