Lifesavers and Body Snatchers: Medical Care and the Struggle for Survival in the Great War
Given the number of books already published on the First World War, especially after its various centenaries were commemorated from 2014 to 2018, you might figure that there wasn’t much more to say. In particular, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tim Cook, who has already written so extensively on the subject, would have much to add about the Canadian experience.
Remarkably, with Lifesavers and Body Snatchers he has.
In this book the focus is on the Canadian Medical Corps, which provides a different perspective on the sorts of damage done, the fallout from bullets and gas, artillery and shell shock. But the background is also well developed, and especially the often bitter political infighting.
Cook has an unrivaled mastery of the archival sources and reveals here for the first time the program of harvesting body parts from fallen soldiers for medical study, without the knowledge or consent of the soldiers and their loved ones. “This was not grave robbing in the deep of night, but an open act of forcing dead soldiers to once again serve their country: having fallen in combat they were now to contribute to victories in future medical battles.”