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The Crimea War saw the advent of routine use of anesthesia in surgery.

Russia as well as the Allies (France, England, and Turkey) were somewhat reluctant to use chloroform because of frequent overdosing. Sometimes the nearly dead man could be brought back to consciousness by shouting his name into his ear and then giving him a large drink of wine. Alcohol (booze) was thought to combat shock and was still routinely used for that purpose in the U.S. Civil War.

Eventually Russia’s supplies of chloroform ran low, and when one patient cried out as surgeons began to cut into his leg without the use of anesthesia, a Russian surgeon punched him in the face.

At least one French soldier refused chloroform when his arm was amputated because he wanted to watch.

Antique Bone Saw circa 1850

Bone Saw circa 1850


The Protagonist:  Slumped-Shouldered Gloom

The leading man or woman is the character whose story lies at the novel's core.  Ideally thatFinal Front Cover HDIGH small size jpg character should be someone whom the reader can relate to or is cheering to success. I mean, really, who wants to read about losers? 

So why did I pick a milksop to write about in How Did I Get Here?  The most interesting event in Andrey's lackluster childhood was a year-long bout with anxiety-induced hiccups.  His spiritless teenage years weren’t any better; his notable exploit was hooking up with a neighbor girl in the church bell tower.

What does an author do when faced with a main character who is a cynical, horny, insipid recluse?  In writing How Did I Get Here?  I was confronted with a protagonist whose childhood resulted in an adult who didn’t engage people (including readers!) 

My response was to write the story from a present-tense, first-person point of view, enabling the reader to understand what was going on inside Andrey’s head, which was a lot more interesting than what his outward persona portrayed.  In entering Andrey's thoughts (and enjoying hefty doses of his wry sense of humor), my goal was to keep you, the reader, entertained in the midst of a gruesome war.

Geenleaf Collage

Author Pens a Book
Publisher Brings It to Life

Why does the author get so much credit for a book?  Yes, the author puts the words on paper, but creating a book requires a synergistic team of professional editors, proof readers, designers, and typesetters, plus gurus in distribution, marketing, accounting, and legal issues.  Each and everyone has to cooperate, communicate, and stay on schedule.

 How Did I Get Here? materialized into a first-class book only through the hard work of the employees and contractors of Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, Texas.  My deepest gratitude goes to every one of them.
Some members of my incredible Greenleaf Book team
Greenleaf Collage Cropped


 Ask people what they know about the Crimean War and you’ll undoubtedly get a blank look.  Mention Florence Nightingale and you’ll at least get a nod.

In November 1854, 35 British female nurses encountered a nightmare of human suffering when they assumed their duties during the Crimean War.  Spearheading the medical effort was Florence Nightingale. Here’s what the nurses found.

      Typhus  Dysentery     Cholera     Malnutrition     Filth     Lice  Fleas      Rodents

      Inadequate clothing     Wretched ventilation    Crushed morale     Overlowing latrines

      Decaying buildings   Inch-thick feces on floor   Cesspool leaching into drinking water

At that time, nursing was regarded as lowly, immodest work performed by servants or the poor, a mere step above prostitution.  It was no surprise that Florence and her nurses met staunch resistance upon their arrival at the military hospital. When they were finally allowed to tend to the patients, one of the nurses, Elizabeth Davis, describes her experiences thus:

I began to open some of their wounds.  The first that I touched was a case of frost bite.  The toes of both the man’s feet fell off with the bandages.  The hands of another fell off at the wrist.  It was…six weeks since the wounds of many of those men had been looked at and dressed.…From many of the patients, I removed (maggots) in handfuls.
Pitting her strong will against the military establishment, Florence set her nurses to work cleaning the hospital and ensuring soldiers were properly fed and clothed. The troops were, for the first time, being treated with decency and respect.  Her work reputedly reduced the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds.  The trailblazer was said to have the sharpest mind and the most effective leadership on the British side of the war.
Florence returned to England as a figure of public admiration. Over the following decades, Florence helped establish nursing as a respectable career for British women.  She also trained nurses in workhouses to help treat the needy.  Her goal was to make medical care readily available to everyone, regardless of their class or income.
During the U.S. Civil War, she was frequently consulted about how best to manage military field hospitals.

The genesis of the nursing profession lies on the Crimean peninsula with the Russian Sisters of Mercy, the French Sisters of Charity, and Florence Nightingale’s British nurses.  Headway continued to be made by Clara Barton in U.S. Civil War.

When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.

                                                                                             - London’s The Times
                                                                                               November 1854