A War Zone of the Soul: Dr. W. Lee Warren's life as a neurosurgeon in a trauma center began to unravel long before he shipped off to serve the Air Force in Iraq in 2004. When he traded a comfortable if demanding practice in San Antonio, Texas, for a ride on a C-130 into the combat zone, he was already reeling from months of personal struggle. At the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Warren realized his experience with trauma was just beginning. In his 120 days in a tent hospital, he was trained in a different specialty - surviving over 100 mortar attacks and trying desperately to repair the damages of a war that raged around every detail of every day. No place was safe, and the constant barrage wore down every possible defense, physical or psychological.
One day, clad only in a T-shirt, gym shorts, and running shoes, Warren was caught in the open while round after round of mortars shook the earth and shattered the air with their explosions, stripping him of everything he had been trying so desperately to hold on to. Warren's story is an example of how a person can go from a place of total loss to one of strength, courage, and victory. Whether you are in the midst of your own crisis of faith, failed relationship, financial struggle, or illness, you will be inspired to remember that how you respond determines whether you survive - spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically. It is the beginning of a long journey home.
What did you like best about No Place to Hide? What did you like least?
The best thing about the book is that it gave great insight into what it was like to work in a hospital in Iraq during the war. The worst part of the book is when the author departed from the story and got preachy. Its his right in his book to do this; but it detracted greatly from the book for me.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
I would have avoided the religious preaching.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
Yes, no problems with narration.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Not sure this would translate well into a movie.
Any additional comments?
I would have given the book 4 starts if it didn't have the preaching.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A very personal take on the Iraq war and some of the battles that occur not on the front lines. As a physician and anesthesiologist, I appreciate Dr Warren's sincerity and thankless love he demonstrated while putting together broken men and women.
A great performance by the narrator!
What did you love best about No Place to Hide?
I love that this formerly privileged American neurosurgeon was able to look so honestly at the contrasts between performing surgeries in America as opposed to the horrors of doing surgery in a tent hospital in the middle of war torn Iraq. The only criticism I have of this book is the author's undying faith in God, how he can still believe, is way beyond my comprehension!!
I never write reviews but I feel I have to after listening to this audio book. We are used to soldiers' stories, their loss, pain and emotional trauma. We rarely hear, read or imagine what it is like from a medical perspective on the front lines. Everyone should have to read this story especially our Congressional representatives and president. I could only listen to this book for short periods of time and not at all at night or I was unable to sleep. I don't know what the answer to conflict is but I do know we need to do better. I also think we continue as Americans to have GREAT GENERATIONS and true heroes.
This book captures Dr. Warren's experience at the 332nd. I like the fact that it highlighted some of the day to day operations at Balad AB.
It was well narrated and personally revealing while also offering a gritty accounting of the reality of a wartime hospital. This book also delves often into the wuss in which his Christian faith framed his experiences in both good and bad ways. Such as the moral injury of being a witness to the evils of war, the selflessness and good that individuals can muster despite being beset by evil, and the redemptive power of ceding control over one's life to God. Finally, he offers wonderful and moving insight into the very human experience of trying to figure out how to carry on with life during and after the fracturing of a relationship or marriage. If recommend this book to anyone but certainly anyone in military health system, healthcare providers of all stripes, anyone struggling through family or faith crises, and anyone interested in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So... basically everyone, as I'm sure we can all find a point of relation herein.
Dr. W. Lee Warren reported to 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq from a successful practice in San Antonio, Texas. He had joined the Air Force to pay for his education and he had to go to Iraq to pay a part of his debt to the US Government.
Lee had absolutely no idea of what lay ahead of him. Pete, also a neurosurgeon, became his mentor for a couple of weeks before his return stateside. The hospital consisted of quite a few tents whereby some of the casualties of war were taken for treatment. Many of these men required a neurosurgeon's skill.
The group of doctor's, technician's, nurse's and other personnel would be leaving Iraq soon and Lee would become thier mentor. He wished for a different scenario but wasn't given a choice. The change to teach others the ropes took time but all began to run smoothly after a short time.
Lee's first surgery was a reality check for him. He stood for a few moments before asking for a knife, he bent down and after the first cut, his mind was focused on the operation he had to perform.
The Iraqi insurgents, Iraqi civilians and any nationality who appeared, that required the attention of a physician or surgeon, were given care. Lee had to have time to accept this fact. His own understanding was that he would be treating American soldier's. However, he did learn that when the insurgent's were ready to be discharged, they would be transported to jail. This fact did quell some of his anxiety. However, over time, Lee saw all that came to be seen were people who required medical treatment and not nationalities.
Lee had left San Antonio, leaving behind unsolved issues of importance of his own and now he had a whole lot of other concerns, the most important one of all, was being able to return home intact. He realized, after time, that he would forever be a different man than the one who had disembarked from a C-130 to begin serving his required four months in Iraq.
The Balad Hospital came under fire frequently, with mortars and bombs. This scared Lee but he learned to live with it, as the other's had done. He did wear his safety shield and helmet most of the time, even when performing surgery. The operating rooms were better constructed than the other parts of the hospital.
There was the sand and mud after it rained, throughout the hospital. Lee couldn't quite grasp the fact that infections didn't abound. The doctor's again had adjusted and treated the patient's with extreme care to prevent infection. Lee lived with sand on his face, in his eyes, on his clothes, in his mouth and anywhere else sand could attach itself.
To help Lee maintain his sanity while in Iraq, he consistently emailed home to many people who had provided him with their email addresses. He saved these on a thumb drive to take home. He emails were going to 20,000 by the time his tour of duty was over. There were also pictures of Iraq, surgeries and many other things that Lee did not share with others.
Lee possessed a deep faith. He would go to Chaplain W or Chaplain W would see his distress and approach him. The wisdom he shared with was, pray more, worry less and let God do the rest. However, as Lee's departure neared he knew that the first thing he would have to deal with was a divorce that his wife had requested before he had left Iraq. His three girl's were also a worry. Being a part of their lives was an absolute necessity.
His last day had arrived and Lee boarded the C - 130, starting his journey back home. He had said his good-byes, gathered his suitcases and was ready for liftoff.
No Place to Hide, is an intense, true story of W. Lee Warren's time in Iraq. The scenes are vivid and no details are left to your imagination. I've already started to reread it for the second time. There are emotions expressed by the narrator, Henry Arnold, that can be intense and quite appropriate for all the emotions that we feel. There were scenes where I became tearful.
I would suggest that other's listen to this well written, true story. The characters are very well developed. Listening can to rough at times but Lee surely does describe his part in Iraq with truth. I was left with knowledge of what happens to our men and women in battle that I didn't want to hear about. But listening, brought the reality of what this war in Iraq is doing to physically and mentally crush our fellow American's. The courage, valor and desire to fight to maintain our freedom, was splashed before my eyes, forcing me see what war can and does to some but not all, while in the fight and what they can face when brought home. There is also what is done to those at home who receive that dreaded phone call. Your credit and time will we be well worth it.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to No Place to Hide the most enjoyable?
If you don't like books that tear you in every direction emotionally, then maybe you shouldn't read this. But in my opinion, this was a wonderfully written book with incredibly heart-wrenching imagery that makes you feel as if you are experiencing the moments yourself. It puts a lot of things into perspective and teaches much about what goes in Iraq, things that we often like to ignore or pretend don't happen. Loved it.
Where does No Place to Hide rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Probably among the best 5 definitely
Who was your favorite character and why?
The surgeon, something about the guy seems very down to earth, unlike other neurosurgeons I have meet, very honest about his faults, very like us I guess
Have you listened to any of Henry Arnold’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I don't remember, probably.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When the doctors attended a Iraqi 2 year old child.
Any additional comments?
War is just horrible, there are no words to describe it enough, but among that, the men and women that serve in the US military, deserve respect and sincerely more help from everybody