Title: No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s Long Journey Home From the Iraq War
Author: W Lee Warren
Genre: Gritty Realism, Religion, Family Drama, War, Non-Fiction, Memoir
Published: May 6, 2014
Page Amount: 352 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: A War Zone of the Soul. Dr. W. Lee Warren’s life as a neurosurgeon in a trauma center began to unravel long before he shipped off to serve the Air Force in Iraq in 2004. When he traded a comfortable if demanding practice in San Antonio, Texas, for a ride on a C-130 into the combat zone, he was already reeling from months of personal struggle.
At the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Warren realized his experience with trauma was just beginning. In his 120 days in a tent hospital, he was trained in a different specialty—surviving over a hundred mortar attacks and trying desperately to repair the damages of a war that raged around every detail of every day. No place was safe, and the constant barrage wore down every possible defense, physical or psychological.
One day, clad only in a T-shirt, gym shorts, and running shoes, Warren was caught in the open while round after round of mortars shook the earth and shattered the air with their explosions, stripping him of everything he had been trying so desperately to hold on to.
Warren’s story is an example of how a person can go from a place of total loss to one of strength, courage, and victory. Whether you are in the midst of your own crisis of faith, failed relationship, financial struggle, or illness, you will be inspired to remember that how you respond determines whether you survive—spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically.
It is the beginning of a long journey home.
Why Read: Originally something on NetGalley I wasn’t super interested in, I ended up enjoying the book ten times more than I thought I would. Normally I don’t read anything remotely resembling war fiction or religion, but somehow this book was different. So I suppose I’m actually quite glad it came into my lap.
Review: When a book gets me to tear up… I know it’s a good one. Especially when the topics are about things that I would never normally read: war and religion ring a bell? Even the concept of divorce and family drama are not themes that I usually read about because they are to sad, and I can’t feel the same resonance that I feel with other books.
But ‘No Place to Hide’ was unique. Reading about Warren’s experiences in the Iraq War as a neurosurgeon were illuminating. I felt transported to each individual case he described, sometimes even feeling my eyes water as he spoke. Perhaps it was because the topic was so close to some of the subjects I study in school, but I prefer to think that it was the quality of the writing and the pure honesty that I felt really was exuded by the book. One of the most striking things that I read was the concept that doctors in Iraq treated terrorists and patients the same way and tried to save them both. Of course I’ve read about the Hippocratic Oath, but to extend the same kindness was, to me, very telling and bumped up the respect I felt for doctors a notch.
The chapters were comfortably broken up between narrative storytelling and emails sent back home to over 20,000 people worldwide. It made the book bearable, I believe, because some of the really difficult scenes to read through were his descriptions of wounds and the internal discussions about God, and doing your duty as a doctor. And just as suddenly you’d be reading an email back home which had a ring of truth but also some optimism.
The one complaint I really have about the book is the large component of religion. That’s a personal view, of course, and truly I think it only bothered me so much because that amount of faith to me is staggering, and wasn’t written on the back cover. So really the whole component of god and everything that comes along with it was unexpected.
However, despite that – I’d recommend this book. Even to people who aren’t religious. Because the experience of reading about a combat neurosurgeon is one that I will probably carry with me for quite a long time.
Rating: 4.2/5 Stars
Review Coming Soon: The Word Exchange