Kevin Brown Historian

History of health, medicine and naval history

Fighting Fit: Health Medicine and War in the Twentieth Century


The twentieth century saw enormous changes in the way in which wars were fought. At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, horse-mounted cavalry were still an important part of  the order of battle; by the time the Gulf War started in 1990 cruise missiles that could be targeted on a specific building from 1,000 miles away had brought a deadly precision to combat. Technological advances have had a major impact on casualties: medicine has had to adapt quickly to deal with rapid change and innovations in military medicine have had a beneficial impact on civilian healthcare.

Kevin Brown’s new book on medicine and war in the twentieth century examines the interaction between the two from the Boer War to the beginnings of ‘the war on terror’. He looks at the experiences of individuals as doctors, nurses and patients, relating their personal and sometimes graphic accounts of treatment on the frontline. His analysis of the evolution of military medicine through a number of conflicts brings home the realities of the physical and mental suffering caused by war.  Encompassing the full scope of combat from world war to guerrilla insurgency, Fighting Fit is the definitive account of front-line medical treatment in the twentieth century.

       Hardcover: 290 pages

       Publisher: The History Press (13 Nov 2008)

     ISBN-10: 0750946490

       ISBN-13: 978-0750946490


About the Author


Kevin Brown has been Trust Archivist and Alexander Fleming Laboratory Curator at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington since 1989. He set up the archive service at the hospital and established the museum there. He is also the author of Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution and The Pox: the Life and Near Death of a Very Social Disease


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