It's easy to sit in the comfort of an American home and spew all kinds of political opinions about war and the American use of force, but it looks very different when you're the one who has to go to war and do the fighting.
Ask any soldier to describe war and they'll tell you one thing: War is hell.
We tend to clean it up and even glorify it from a distance, but the reality is very different.
That's what makes "No Place to Hide," written by W. Lee Warren (published by Zondervan), such a compelling story. It's not the tale of a fighting soldier in Iraq, instead picture something closer to a modern-day version of M*A*S*H but not written for humor and without so many colorful characters.
"No Place to Hide" is the personal story of Lee Warren's experience as a neurosurgeon who, as a major in the United States Air Force, left a successful practice in San Antonio, and a failing marriage, to serve as part of the medical team that would perform surgery, including brain surgery, in tents on a base in Balad, Iraq.
With mortors and rockets being shot at the base, shaking the hospital tents while the doctors operated on soldiers, terrorists, and even Iraqi civilians, Warren would learn what war really looks like. It's not glamorous when day after day, your job is to try to save the mangled bodies that continue to pour in from the battlefield. Warren and his colleagues saw more carnage to humanity in their 120-day assignment in Iraq than any person should ever have to see in a lifetime.
You might be surprised about one famous Iraqi Warren met face-to-face ... but you'll have to read the book to find out who that was!
With his marriage at home over, and now having to face the horrors of war, Warren's time in Iraq was the impetus for re-discovering his faith, something vital for sustaining the soldier-physician through the war and beyond.
I might stop short in describing this book as "riveting," but it certainly is a page-turner. Not only is the content of the story compelling enough to keep you turning from one chapter to another, but the quality of the writing is excellent, the flow as smooth as a well-written novel. The only weak part of the book is the ending, which suddenly becomes choppy and ends quickly. After spreading his story smoothly throughout the book, it looks like Warren struggled a little with a smooth landing for an ending.
Nevertheless, "No Place to Hide" is worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, not only does it provide readers with a more realistic view of war, but also what our military men and women have to go through when serving our country in times of war. It is also an encouragement to readers to see how faith can sustain us even in the worst of all circumstances.
A final note: while I recommend this book, it is written by a neurosurgeon during a time of war. Some of the descriptions of what Warren had to deal with are a little graphic and might make you a little queasy if you're sensitive to medical settings. However, Warren shares just enough description to provide an adequate understanding for readers without becoming purposely "gorey" in the details.
I received this book free from HarperCollins Christian Publishing as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon's Long Journey Home from the Iraq War by W. Lee Warren, MD chronicles Dr. Warren's experiences in an Air Force surgical hospital during the war in Iraq. Four life-changing months were spent in Balad, Iraq as Dr. Warren worked to save the lives of our military men and women as well as both Iraqi allies and enemies.
But there's so much more to his story than that. Arriving in Iraq while the fate of his marriage and family were unknown, Dr. Warren spends these months learning to listen for God's voice, lean into His protection, and obey His direction. He lived a war-torn life in a war-torn country and returned home a different man.
Having three kids in the military, I'm all-too familiar with deployments. They are difficult on the men and women who are deployed and nearly unbearable for the families who stay at home. No Place to Hide has just enough medical details mingled with the war details to keep you on the edge of your seat. The chapters are short so that you don't get bogged down in the technical details as Dr. Warren shares what happened to him and how it affected his faith walk.
Because how could it not? As Dr. Warren learns, there is no place we can go to hide from God. There are no circumstances that are out of God's reach. Not a difficult marriage or a divorce. Not financial problems. Not stress in our work environment. Not health issues. Not anger or bitterness, depression or fatigue. Not a foreign country, and not a war.
If you need some encouragement in your own walk, I'd recommend No Place to Hide. It's well-written and interesting. More importantly, it will challenge you. As you see God's faithfulness in the life of one man who went to war, may you begin to see His faithfulness in yours.
I am not one to typically like to read a military book or watch a movie based on military events, but when I read the bio of Dr. Warren, I was intrigued.
Dr. Lee Warren served for 180 days in Iraq as a brain surgeon. His story is raw, real and incredible. He finds himself in the middle of the mortars, gunfire and violence. While taking in all that happens around him, I stand amazed at how each person who worked along side him and other doctors as well were used during this critical time in history. My eyes often fill with tears when I think of our soldiers out there fighting for our freedom as well as others. I now have a new respect for those civilians as well. He not only treated our soldiers, but all men, women, and children who needed help. Although there were gruesome details that I normally can't stomach, I read in utter amazement in how God used this in this mere man's life. I also have a new respect for those who come home after seeing all that takes place on the battle field.
I was also greatly challenged with loving those most unlovable, namely my enemies.
Don't plan on this being a book about soldiers and battalions fighting with ammunition zinging, tanks and planes duking it out with cannons and weaponry blazing. It is not a "war" book in that essence. It is, however, a war book that will engage the reader and provide insight into the war that is waged in a field-hospital in a war zone. It will allow you to see the mental, emotional, and physical strength of our soldier/doctors and soldier/medics and our soldier/chaplains. You will see their weaknesses, too. You will feel their weariness and discomfort as they slough through mud or combat sand infiltrating their lungs. You will appreciate their knowledge and skill and their bravery to use extremely limited resources to perform surgeries that save the virtually unsavable life of the wounded whether they are American or enemy combatants. Whether it is a small child with a bullet through his brain or an Iraqi woman about to give birth, these are American doctors and soldiers with skills and compassion and courage.
Most of all, this is the story of Dr. W. Lee Warren. A highly skilled and trained neurosurgeon who served in Iraq in 2004. His own family broken, he departs America as an Air Force doctor. He arrives in Iraq as "green war zone" but highly skilled neurosurgeon and leaves when his tour of duty of finished a leader and seasoned soldier/surgeon.
I challenge my readers to get a copy of No Place to Hide and read it. See how God works to bring Grace through it all in the scope of war and in the minute bits of individual people's emotions and personal trauma.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.