The Second Auxiliary Surgical Group arrived in Northern Africa shortly behind the invading force of Operation Torch during World War II. They were a group of surgical teams without nurses and without a headquarters, and therefore without consistent direction or organization. Paul A. Kennedy, M.D., a surgeon in a mobile general surgical team, was by turns amazed, baffled, and bemused by war. Like most of the men with whom he crossed the Atlantic, Kennedy’s knowledge of the world was limited.

Kennedy eventually spent almost three years in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany during World War II, performing hundreds of surgical procedures on soldiers so desperately wounded that they could not survive evacuation to hospitals further in the rear. From the beginning of 1944 until the end of the war, he kept a medical journal in which he meticulously recorded and illustrated 355 of these cases. He also kept a personal diary and took more than 1,500 photographs, most of which had been developed and carefully labeled, but never printed.

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