McDaniels has a rare gift for honing the experiences of an epic battle into fine points of individual struggle and sacrifice.
La Crosse, Wi (PRWEB) February 27, 2013
Just in time for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Edison McDaniels, a neurosurgeon with twenty years experience behind the scalpel and over 7,000 operations to his credit, has written what critics are calling an engaging, heart-breaking, and absolutely fantastic novel of the surgeons at work amid the chaos and carnage of that terrible battle, the greatest ever fought on American soil.
McDaniels is a 1990 graduate of Stanford Medical School and completed his long and grueling training in neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. This was in the days before resident work hour restrictions, he says, and it wasn't uncommon to work 100-120 hours or more per week. "It was intense, no doubt. As chief resident at the county hospital, I was on call every night for six months straight. Many weeks I operated four or five out of seven nights. This was after operating all day. You develop a certain mentality—a certain survivalist way of thinking—in such intense environments."
It is that sense of intensity he wanted to convey in NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE, and by all accounts he has succeeded. The novel follows a group of surgeons struggling to save the wounded at a battlefield hospital during the terrible fighting and the days that followed. They have not only to contend with the scores of wounded and the battle waging around them, but with fatigue and their own inner demons as well. The writing has been described as crisp, the dialogue engaging, and the plot lines intricately woven and wonderfully timed.
One reviewer noted how "McDaniels has a rare gift for honing the experiences of an epic battle into fine points of individual struggle and sacrifice." Dr. McDaniels himself feels the most unique aspect of the novel is how he was able to use his own experience as a surgeon in the trenches to imbue both the battlefield hospital and the surgeons struggling at their tasks with stunning realism and vivid clarity. This clarity is one of the novel's most salient characteristics, and at times the descriptions of the primitive surgery of the period—in a time before germ theory, universal hand washing, and only rudimentary knowledge of anesthesia— can cause physical discomfort in the reader.
McDaniels doesn't apologize for this. "Good drama doesn't pull back from the camera—or the pen—just because things get difficult. I think most readers appreciate this, as long as there's a good story in the telling. And this is a good story." Indeed, despite the difficult subject matter, the novel has been described as an utterly compelling read, largely because of the skill with which McDaniels unfolds his characters' stories. In the words of several reviewers, these are people the reader cares about, and the war fades into the background as the fate of the individuals hang in the balance.
He took the better part of ten years penning his epic, reading scores of Civil War novels and taking time off to walk numerous battlefields and research the surgery of the period. "But no novel I read was ever able to quite capture the intensity of the surgeons at work in that terrible war," he says, "I sought to rectify that, but only in the context of a great story. I had no interest in an academic exercise."
This year is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, so he believes the book will have especially wide appeal. And, as if that weren't enough, he has already completed a second novel set in the same time, THE MATRIARCH OF RUINS, available late this year or early next year from his publisher, Northampton House Press.
Bottom line: A must read for anyone with an interest in medical fiction, surgery, or historical fiction of the American Civil War.
NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE: A NOVEL OF GETTYSBURG is available now as an eBook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and other platforms. It will be available from Northampton House Press in trade paperback in March or April 2013.
Read Dr. McDaniels blog at http://www.surgeonwriter.com. Follow him on twitter @surgeonwriter.