Sunday, January 2, 2022

Review of "The Medic: Life and Death in the Last Days of WWII," by Leo Litwak

 Review of

The Medic: Life and Death in the Last Days of WWII, by Leo Litwak, ISBN 1565123050

Five out of five stars

War from the perspective of the frontline medic

 Litwak taught English literature at San Francisco State University for over thirty years, which explains the high quality of the prose in this book. During World War II he was a medic in the U. S. Army, in the front lines during the move into Germany until his unit met with Russian forces coming from the East.

 The recounting of his experiences demonstrate that there were truly all kinds of personalities in the Army. Everything from a man that fought on the side of the International Brigades in the Civil War in Spain to men that simply didn’t care about much of anything. Concerned only with moving towards the war ending with the least possible inconvenience. If that meant shooting surrendering Germans, then so be it.

 Within Litwak’s wartime experiences, there are two that stand out and are repeated several times. One is a German rocket attack that eviscerates one and blows the leg off another of his buddies. Both are killed. He comes back to that event several times. The other is about an experience when he is on leave in Paris. While there, he meets an apparently shy young woman named Marishka. After a bit of hard-to-get maneuvering, they do end up in a pay-for-play arrangement. She is mentioned several times after that and when the war is over and Litwak is being discharged, he goes back to Paris to search for her.

 The war in Europe was brutal and it changed the people dramatically. Yet, even within the carnage and inhumanity, many aspects of humanity remain. There is the need to remain human, to some that need is little more than carnal, yet to many others, it means basic acts of kindness shown to people that may not survive without it. Both are present in this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment