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Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57    by Michael Weisskopf order for
Blood Brothers
by Michael Weisskopf
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I found senior Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf's Blood Brothers a hard book to read. It chronicles the loss of the author's hand, caused by an exploding grenade while he traveled in a U.S. Army Humvee on the streets of Baghdad. An embedded reporter, his job was to record what was happening to U.S. soldiers. Instead he became the news as one of those severely wounded.

This account of the first civilian to be treated at Walter Reed Medical Center is full of the pain, anguish, and questioning that the sorely wounded men of Ward 57 - the hospital ward where amputees fight their way back to some semblance of the life they left behind them when they embarked for Iraq - suffered. Though Weisskopf details his long struggle back to what would become normality for him, the main emphasis of Blood Brothers is on the men with whom he shared that ward. They became his reality, especially three men whose courage and determination to move beyond their horrific injuries Weisskopf admired and used as his own map to recovery.

Pete Damon, Luis Rodriguez and Bobby Isaacs personified for Weisskopf the unbelievable human spirit that moved them each and every day. Despite losing multiple limbs, these men moved back to their pre-Iraq lives. Not to live them in the way they had, but to forge new lives from the wreckage their bodies had become. My own brother was an amputee from World War II in the Pacific theater. A bomb fragment tore his leg from his body. I understand him more now than I ever did before. Losing a limb is not something you can ever forget how that loss is managed is what counts. I was also struck by the unwavering patriotism of most of the men of Ward 57. Perhaps it validated their sacrifice.

Michael Weisskopf is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, also winner of the George Polk Award, Goldsmith Award for Investigative Reporting, National Headliners Award, and the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. Blood Brothers should be read. Not necessarily to be enjoyed, but rather to acquaint ourselves with the men and woman who have been sent to war. And to say a heartfelt thank you.

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