Military medicine and the hidden costs of war

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1 Scopus citations


A highly original comprehensive history of US military medicine. Decisions to go to war are often framed in cost-benefit terms, and typically such assessments do not factor in longer term costs. However, recent dramatic improvements in American military medicine have had an unanticipated effect: saving more soldiers' lives has vastly increased long-term, downstream costs of war with profound consequences for global politics in an era of heightened great power competition. In Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War, Tanisha M. Fazal traces the modern history of medical treatment and casualty rates in American conflicts from the Civil War to the more recent counterinsurgency wars. As she shows, wars became increasingly survivable for wounded troops, to the point now where a large majority of wounded soldiers survive. Yet the human and financial implications of this steep increase in the wounded-to-killed ratio are dramatic, and her powerful analysis of this shift provides a necessary corrective to how we understand the costs of war. For each major conflict, Fazal analyzes the weapons used, injuries sustained, and policies put in place for veterans' care and pensions. As she argues, these improvements have significant financial and deeply personal implications for the returned wounded and their families, as well as the US government and its citizenry. Fazal's analysis highlights the significance of policymakers underestimating the costs of war, which in turn makes it easier both to initiate and continue military action abroad, contributing to Americas' penchant for engaging in so-called "endless wars." A sweeping political history, Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War will fundamentally change our understanding of the lasting consequences of America's wars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Electronic)9780190057565
ISBN (Print)9780190057473
StatePublished - Apr 30 2024

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© Oxford University Press 2024. All rights reserved.


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