Book Review: A Doctor in The Great War: Unseen Photographs of Life in the Trenches


by Andrew Davidson

New York: Marble Arch / Simon & Schuster, 2014. Pp. 320. Illus., maps, append. $37.00. ISBN: 1476777551

At War with Scalpel and Camera

British surgeon Fred Davidson served with the 1st Cameronians at the Front in France in 1914-1915. While treating the wounded and winning the Military Cross, he collected photographs, taken, against orders, by himself or other officers. 

A collection of some 250 of these images survives, and these form the basis of this book, put together by Dr. Davidson’s grandson, a British journalist and author. The younger Davidson supplements the images from his grandfather’s wartime collection with others, including some of family members, and in a sort-f appendix modern views of several of the 1914-1915 sites. There is also a very readable text that blends a narrative account of the events with excerpts from wartime letters and diaries, by the good doctor and others, as well as clips from newspaper articles, histories, and other publications. 

While neither “drums and trumpets” nor “modern military history,” A Doctor in the Great War is a valuable work for anyone seeking an understanding of the nature of the Great War and those who fought it.

Note: A Doctor in the Great War is also available as an e-book ISBN 978-1-4767-7756-6


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close