Emergency War Surgery for the Combat Physician – a Book Review

I was contacted by a newly established publishing company that plans to cater their products to the prepping community. This is the same company that brought Holding Your Ground: Preparing for Defense if it All Falls Apart to print.

I was asked if I’d like to review Emergency War Surgery. Why wouldn’t I? But the crux of this post is less about the content of the book and more about whether the “average” prepper needs a book like this, a question I’ll pose to you, but first – let’s discuss the contents.

This is a book that can be found in .pdf version, but I’ve always maintained that if it’s a SHTF preparedness book that’s worth having, there’s no way I’m going to have it in .pdf. Paperback for the win! Paperback books are grid down EMP-proof, and they’re FAR easier to read.

The book builds off the 1988 version, updates it with new information and practices. The book states:

This edition contains new material that updates the management of war wounds and is filled with over 150 specially drawn illustrations. Equally important is the use of an outline, bulleted format that is so much more concise than the verbosity of the previous editions. Our intent is that if given a choice of bringing a single book on a rapid or prolonged deployment, today’s military surgeon would choose this edition over any other trauma book.

It’s true, the book is very reader friendly. It’s written for a combat physician with medical language, but it’s not so foreign that it reads like Latin. Someone with a basic understanding of medical principles (or someone that had to come up to speed real fast) could understand the content with little difficulty. The convenient images also help.

Here are the book’s chapters: Weapons Effects, Levels of Medical Care, Triage, Aeromedical Evacuation, Airway/Breathing, Hemorrhage Control, Shock and Resuscitation, Vascular Access, Anesthesia, Infections, Critical Care, Damage Control Surgery, Face and Neck Injuries, Ocular Injuries, Head Injuries, Thoracic Injuries, Abdominal Injuries, Genitourinary Tract Injuries, Gynecological Trauma and Emergencies, Wounds and Injuries of the Spinal Column and Cord, Pelvic Injuries, Soft-Tissue Injuries, Extremity Fractures, Open-Joint Injuries, Amputations, Injuries to the Hand and Feet, Vascular Injuries, Burns, Environmental Injuries, Radiological Injuries, Biological Warfare, Chemical Injuries, Pediatric Care, and Care of Enemy Prisoners of War/Internees (and 3 appendices).

Now the crux of this post – does the average prepper even need a book like this?

Clearly there will be no easy answer as it depends on how you define “average prepper” and what he/she anticipates as legitimate threats. My view is – sure, why not? Knowledge is power! It always has been, it always will be. If SHTF and I suddenly find myself throwing lead at zombie biker gangs that fire back, am I just going to whoop this book out and suddenly be able to perform surgery on the guy next to me? Hell no (though I did buy a military medical surgical kit – seemed like a logical purchase to supplement the book).

What this book does provide is a resource. Maybe I don’t or won’t have the skill set needed to perform all of the procedures outlined in the book WTSHTF, but maybe the person next to me is a general practitioner with no surgical experience. Think the book would help him/her? Obviously. Maybe the person next to me is a veterinarian. In the absence of anyone else, that veterinarian is suddenly doctor for all. Think the book would help him or her? You bet.

Besides, think of absolute worst case scenario, my homeboy had his arm blown off by human cockroaches moving north to Maine to escape the mayhem in the south. Would I rather help him with the information in this book – or without?

What do you think? Are books like this worth the purchase?

– Ranger Man