Progressing through my reading list

After finishing that book on the history of the Reformation, the next book on my reading list was War Hospital. This book came into my possession after I used it as padding for a BookCloseouts ordering, so that I was able to apply a $5 off coupon. Hence, it cost me nothing, or even less than nothing to add to my order.

The book is nonfiction, covering the activities of a number of doctors during conflicts in the Balkans. It starts off with a little of the history of the conflict a few details of the founding of Médecins Sans Frontières (the English branch of the organization is Doctors Without Borders). From there it proceeds to cover the course of conflict in 1992 - 1995, primarily focused on a place called Srebrenica, and the "ethnic cleansing" that took place in the area.

I found the book to be fairly engaging, but at the same time you could tell that the author was a doctor rather than a professional writer. There were a few muddled sentences, and the curious mechanism of using the present tense for a portion of the book, but all in all I found it to be quite readable and had some difficulty putting the book down.

The issues that the book attempts to raise are those of medical ethics and the efficacy of a peacekeeping agenda. Many times the actions of the UN and NATO are shown to be ineffective, and perhaps also contributory to the problem.

As an interesting sidenote, based on some discussion in the book of the difficulty of getting into med school, I decided to do a little digging and see how it compared to the Computing Science graduate program. I grabbed some statistics from the UBC Faculty of Medicine, and compared it with figures received in an SFU grad school information session earlier this year. Turns out that in spite of med school's reputation as being difficulty to get into, the acceptance rates (percentages of applicants) were about 3 times as high as those for the SFU CS graduate program.