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Hospital Sketches

Louisa May Alcott

Book Overview: 

Alcott in 1862 served as a nurse in Georgetown, D.C during the Civil War. She wrote home what she observed there. Those harrowing and sometimes humorous letters compiled make up Hospital Sketches.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Several have crape on the door-handles, and many have flags flying from roof or balcony. Few men appear, and the women seem to do the business, which, perhaps, accounts for its being so well done. Pass fine buildings, but don't know what they are. Would like to stop and see my native city; for, having left it at the tender age of two, my recollections are not vivid.

Baltimore.—A big, dirty, shippy, shiftless place, full of goats, geese, colored people, and coal, at least the part of it I see. Pass near the spot where the riot took place, and feel as if I should enjoy throwing a stone at somebody, hard. Find a guard at the ferry, the depot, and here and there, along the road. A camp whitens one hill-side, and a cavalry training school, or whatever it should be called, is a very interesting sight, with quantities of horses and riders galloping, marching, leaping, and skirmishing, over all manner of break-neck places. A party of English people get in&mdash. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I like this because reading about Alcott’s firsthand experiences being a nurse during the Civil War is just plain interesting. How many such accounts written by acclaimed authors could there be? What we are told feels very real and honest. Secondly, I like it because you et a grip on Alcott’s per...more

3.5 This is going to be a short review, since I just reviewed [book:Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War|40537448 a few days ago. I was surprised at how much of that book was directly quoted from this one. Though I did like reading this, since it was wholly Louisas though...more

This was a fictional account of Louisa May's time as a nurse during the Civil War. I really enjoyed it.

Louisa May Alcott wrote this collection of sketches at the request of her friends and encouraged by her father. It was not a labor of love, and it shows. Allow me to clarify: The nursing was a labor of love while the writing of the sketches was not. The writing is uneven, moving from third-rate n...more

It's hard to believe this is one of Louisa May Alcott's earliest published works. Over the course of just a few chapters, she had me both laughing out loud at her inimitable humor and sobbing outright at the pathos of her descriptions. The deathbed scene of a man we hadn't met until we knew he wa...more

Louisa May Alcott's fictionalized memoir of her experiences as a nurse in Washington D.C. during the Civil War was both witty and moving.
Her descriptions of her efforts to get to her assigned hospital as well as her living conditions whilst there were humorous., while her descriptions of th...more

I read this concurrently with Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist -- unintentionally, but appropriately -- as not only was Dickens one of Alcott's favorite writers, but this fictionalized memoir of Alcott’s could be said to have led to her “becoming Louisa May Alcott”.

Similar to the...more

Many people don't know about this book, since the one and only Ms. Louisa May Alcott is known more for Little Womenand its sequel Little Men, but for history buffs, of the Civil War especially, this is a must read.

Being a woman permitted to help your fellow beings as a money earning career option when you w...more

Most people know Louisa May Alcott's name for Little Women. They may know her name in relation to her father, Bronson Alcott, and his friendship with dudes like Ralph Waldo Emerson and H.D. Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist movement. Not as many people knew she also went to war.

Alcott spent six weeks working as...more

Hospital Sketches was published in 1863, early in Alcott's writing career. It is a lightly fictionalized account of her six week service as a nurse at a Georgetown hospital during the Civil War. It is compiled from letters written by Alcott during this time. Her service ended early when she contr...more

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