Island of Terrible Friends


“This is the story of the island of Vis, the “umbilicus” on the soft underbelly of Europe – the Balkan peninsula, which during World War II was surrounded by Germans and which was a last stronghold to be held at all costs by a few Commandos and Tito’s partisans. Major Rickett, a surgeon, with a team of two, was sent there to set up a hospital with no facilities to cope with- a local unit headed by a Jugoslav gynecologist who bungled most procedures; a cascade of casualties which required drastic surgery without antibiotics, a blood bank, oxygen; wounds which were often infected if not infested; and the dead for which there was no mortuary space. Still there was Madame Zena, an indomitable little woman who even managed to “kidnap” an X-ray machine on the mainland; the incredible courage of the partisans as they fought their bitterly personal war; and the sometimes funny as well as fantastic scenes of life and death on this isolated outpost of resistance. The account here, more spit than polish, is stringent and spirited and it should mobilize the reader to strict attention.”