Rush to Danger by Ted Barris

Rush to Danger is a nonfiction book by Ted Barris .
Rush to Danger is a nonfiction book by Ted Barris.

Noted military historian Ted Barris once asked his father, Alex, "What did you do in the war?" What the former US Army medic then told his son forms the thrust of Barris's latest historic journey — an exploration of his father's wartime experiences as a medic leading up to the Battle of the Bulge in 1944–45, along with stories of other medics in combat throughout history.   

Barris's research reveals that this bloodiest of WWII battles was shouldered largely by military medics. Like his father, Alex, medics in combat evacuated the wounded on foot, scrounged medical supplies where there were seemed to be none, and dodged snipers and booby traps on the most frigid and desolate battlefields of Europe. While retracing his father's wartime experience, the author weaves into his narrative stories about the life-and-death struggles of military medical personnel during a century of service.

In this unique front-line recounting of the experiences of stretcher bearers, medical corpsmen, nurses, surgeons, orderlies, dentists and ambulance drivers, Barris explores the evolution of battlefield medicine at such historic engagements as Fredericksburg, Batoche, the Ypres Salient, the Somme, Vimy, Singapore, Dieppe, Normandy, Falaise, Bastogne, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. Barris's sources reveal—like never before — why men and women sporting the red cross on their helmets or sleeves didn't flee to safety but chose instead to rush to assist. (From HarperCollins Canada)

Rush to Danger was on the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize longlist.

From the book

I never fought in a war. I was born and raised in a time and a place that didn't require young men to sign up, take basic training in the country's armed forces, and leave its villages and cities to serve in a theatre of war overseas, the way my father did. And I certainly didn't have to witness the death and dying that he did. About as close as I ever came to serious injury in my youth, believe it or not, happened when I was participating in America's favourite pastime. It was during a competitive but relatively friendly game of baseball that I sustained my worst physical injury. On the final day of classes that year, my grade nine phys-ed instructor had no curriculum left to teach, so he gave us a bat and a ball and told us to go to the school diamond and play some work-up baseball. Not long into the game, I was playing shortstop when the catcher and I chased the same infield fly and ran into each other head-on in the middle of the diamond. The collision broke my nose, knocked out my front teeth, and put me out cold for several minutes.

From Rush to Danger by Ted Barris ©2019. Published by HarperCollins.

Interviews with Ted Barris

Military historian and author Ted Barris recently published his latest novel, Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire. In honour of Remembrance Day, we invited him to take our Proust questionnaire.