Peaceful Bones by Samuel Axelrad

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MWSA Review

Author Samuel Axelrad tells a fascinating story in his book, Peaceful Bones. It's not enough to tell you that his story made it into Ripley's Believe It or Not; you should read the book and learn more about this interesting man's life in Viet Nam. 

As a doctor assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1966, Sam Axelrad became the Company Commander for Company A 15th Medical Battalion and witnessed all the horror war can throw at you.  He and his troops treated the war wounded and the sick on a daily basis. These patients included not only U.S. military wounded, but also local Vietnamese civilians as well as enemy combatants.  One such enemy soldier arrived in his operating room with an arm that had been shot and left untreated in the jungle for days. The arm had become severely infected, and Dr. Axelrad had no choice but to amputate.  In the harsh killing environment that was Viet Nam, Dr. Axelrad not only saved the soldier's life but helped him stay at the clinic and trained him to do light duties at the clinic.  When it came time to move him back into the local environment, he made sure to find him a job at a civilian clinic.  

The book tells this story and goes on to focus on their reunion fifty years later, when Dr. Axelrad returned the bones from the amputated arm to their rightful owner. An interesting read!

MWSA Reviewer: Bob Doerr (April 2018)


Author's Synopsis

The book is based on the true story of Dr. Axelrad’s experience as a Vietnam War army surgeon where he finds himself helping not only American soldiers but hundreds of Vietnamese citizens both wounded and ill. Peaceful Bones is about one special patient named Hung Nguyen aka "Charlie" who becomes an unlikely friend on the battlefield. Dr. Axelrad saves Charlie’s life, forging a bond that crosses cultural and enemy lines. Their reunion, 46 years after losing touch in 1967, was a moving and inspiring moment that made history around the world. Peaceful Bones is Dr. Axelrad’s stories of the war, his life, and the uncanny "coincidences" that brought him and Charlie together twice in one lifetime over several decades and thousands of miles. Dr. Axelrad’s son, Chris, and Rabbi Ranon Teller co-authored the memoir.

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-692-79458-6
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Memoir
Review Genre: Nonfiction—Memoir/Biography
Number of Pages: 205