Between Flesh and Steel


Between Flesh and Steel

A History of Military Medicine from the Middle Ages to the War in Afghanistan

Richard A. Gabriel

312 pages


January 2013


$34.95 Add to Cart

April 2016


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

February 2013


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Over the last five centuries, the development of modern weapons and warfare has created an entirely new set of challenges for practitioners in the field of military medicine. Between Flesh and Steel traces the historical development of military medicine from the Middle Ages to modern times.
Military historian Richard A. Gabriel focuses on three key elements: the modifications in warfare and weapons whose increased killing power radically changed the medical challenges that battle surgeons faced in dealing with casualties, advancements in medical techniques that increased the effectiveness of military medical care, and changes that finally brought about the establishment of military medical care system in modern times. Others topics include the rise of the military surgeon, the invention of anesthesia, and the emergence of such critical disciplines as military psychiatry and bacteriology. The approach is chronological—century by century and war by war, including Iraq and Afghanistan—and cross-cultural in that it examines developments in all of the major armies of the West: British, French, Russian, German, and American. Between Flesh and Steel is the most comprehensive book on the market about the evolution of modern military medicine.

Author Bio

RICHARD A. GABRIEL is a distinguished professor in the Department of History and War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and in the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. He is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than forty books, including Scipio AfricanusThutmose IIIPhilip II of MacedoniaHannibal, and Man and Wound in the Ancient World. He lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.


"Between Flesh and Steel is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in history."—NYMAS Review

"Between Flesh and Steel is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in history."—A. A. Nofi, StrategyPage

“This comprehensive book transforms our understanding of military history by exploring a new dimension as to why armies win or lose in war. The importance of military medicine to an army’s success or failure is a subject that has been largely ignored by military historians until now. Gabriel’s book opens up a new way of thinking about war, one that demonstrates how the mix of culture, politics, and science determines the medical fate of the soldier on the battlefield and thus of armies themselves. It will introduce medical professionals, historians, and general readers to a very different perspective on war, one they need to understand if they wish to fully comprehend how human suffering has influenced the history of conflict.”—John Scott Cowan, principal emeritus, Royal Military College of Canada, and chair, Defence Science Advisory Board of Canada

“Richard Gabriel’s grasp of matters military and medical—amply illuminated by his spirited writing style—brings a novel perspective to centuries of combat. From the dawn of firearms in the fifteenth century to the war in Afghanistan in the twenty-first, this intriguing book is nothing less than a history of Western warfare told from the perspective of the casualties and medics and physicians who treated their wounds. Gabriel has once again given us an outstanding work of military history.”—Michael Robbins, editor, Military History Magazine

“With this latest addition to his already impressive list of books, Richard Gabriel, the most prolific military historian of his generation, writes with his usual insight, eloquence, and attention to detail about an oft-neglected aspect of the history of armed conflict: the development of military medicine and its contributions to the revolution in medical science. In doing so, he has produced what must be regarded as the definitive treatment of the subject, one from which historians, medical practitioners, and general readers will learn much. A very valuable book that is highly recommended.”—Steve Weingartner, coauthor of Faithful Warriors: A Combat Marine Remembers the Pacific War

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