A Doctor’s War

Letters and Reflections from the Frontlines of World War II

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About the Book

A medical officer in the 34th “Red Bulls” Infantry Division on the front lines of World War II, Lt.Col./Maj. Arthur L. Ludwick, Jr., was responsible for the well-being of traumatized and wounded American soldiers through some of the bloodiest engagements in North Africa and Italy: Kasserine and Fondouk Passes, Hill 609, Monte Pantano, Cassino, and Anzio. He was awarded both the Purple Heart and Silver Star, unusual combat commendations for an unarmed medical officer. His articulate letters home detail his experiences, with keen observations of the people and landscapes he encountered. Based on Ludwick’s letters and an archive of interviews, military documents and photos, this multifaceted narrative, compiled by his daughter, also tells the story of her discovery of her father as the young man she never knew.

About the Author(s)

Peggy Ludwick’s professional background is in microbiology and public health. Her published research has appeared in several medical journals. Her work experience includes supervising hospital clinical labs and gender equity work in the Yakima, Washington public school system. She has taught in a variety of educational settings and developed STEM-based curriculum for underserved students. She has always been interested in history and the lost art of letter writing. Discovering her father’s 265 eloquent letters home as a young medical officer during WWII was a revelation, and a gift she felt compelled to share. She lives in Wenatchee, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Arthur L. Ludwick, Jr., M.D., and Peggy Ludwick

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 50 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8909-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4729-6
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Intimate and compelling. A Doctor’s War captures the vivid, often poignant experience of a frontline physician during the brutal campaigns in North Africa and Italy. Dr. Arthur L. Ludwick, Jr. illuminates not only the war, but also the humanity to be found despite the war.”—Rick Atkinson, author, consummate WWII historian and Pulitzer Prize winner for his The Liberation Trilogy

• “It wasn’t until after his death in 2008 that Peggy Ludwick discovered a trove of 265 letters her father had written home to his new bride during his 28 months of service on the frontlines of WWII. Most of those letters were written in the heat of battle in North Africa and Italy. Peggy quickly realized they were more than love letters—they were first-person accounts of what it was like to be a medical officer who endured some of the most brutal campaigns of the Mediterranean Theater. The letters are notable for their detail and insight—riveting reports by an astute observer of the violent drama that was evolving all around him. Lt. Col./Major Arthur L. Ludwick was a stickler for accuracy, describing in moving detail the medical challenges, as well as the human suffering he witnessed. This book is both a love story and a war story. For World War II history buffs, in particular, this will be a valuable addition to their library.”—Ed Stover, journalist, poet, editor

• “Peggy Ludwick’s depiction of the life of a combat Medical Officer in World War II draws from her father’s letters home to his young bride, from whom he was separated for two and a half years after just two months of marriage. With the 34th Infantry Division in Northern Ireland, North Africa, and Italy, Lt. Col./Maj. Arthur L. ‘Lud’ Ludwick treated soldiers suffering from injuries, PTSD, malaria and other illnesses, while keeping his troops’ spirits high amid 14 major engagements with the German Army. This personal account reflects Lud’s feelings, cultural observations, and successes in a way most WWII narratives fail to do.”—Chris Rader, writer/editor, author of Place of Plenty

• “Peggy Ludwick’s exploration of her father’s military service as a medical officer during World War Two, stands out as a valuable contribution to our understanding of that war because it also considers, from a very personal perspective, the postwar legacies of the brutal wartime conditions in North Africa and Italy. It is a remarkable reconsideration of the hidden costs of war, not only for those who suffered physical and psychological wounds from combat experience, but also for their families back home, both during and after the war. It is an admiring, but clear-eyed look at the hidden stories that shaped the father she thought she knew, and it will resonate with anyone who has known a person who rose to the occasion of wartime service—even heroically—while attempting to shield those they loved from the full psychological and physical impact of that service.”—Max G. Geier, Ph.D., professor of history, emeritus, Western Oregon University