The twentieth century saw two world wars and many other conflicts characterised by technological change and severity of casualties. Medicine has adapted quickly to deal with such challenges and new medical innovations in the military field have had advantages in civil medicine. There has thus been interplay between war and medicine that has not only been confined to the armed forces and military medicine, but which has impacted on health and medicine for all of us. These themes will be examined from the Boer War to the dawn of a new century, and a 'war against terror', the experiences of individuals as doctors, nurses and patients, are highlighted, with personal, sometimes graphic, first-hand accounts bringing home the realities of medical treatment in wartime.
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