My Continuing Study of How My TBR List Only Gets Longer: Mary Borden, and a Bit on Ebook vs Paper

First World War Poems from the Front - Paul O'Prey The Forbidden Zone: A Nurse's Impressions of the First World War - Mary Borden, Hazel Hutchison Nurses at the Front: Writing the Wounds of the Great War - Margaret R. Higonnet Goodbye to All That - Robert Graves

It starts, like so many of my link-following-book-discovering adventures, with one article:


WWI Anthology Includes Robert Graves Attack on 'scum' Celebrating Victory

Alison Flood, Guardian, 28 May 2014


You should read all of it, because it's interesting what Graves felt he couldn't write about while everyone around him was celebrating. Which is understandable because Graves served in the army and had been injured and left for dead - he took a dim view of people who he felt hadn't seen any of the death celebrating anything to do with the war.


Anyway, this anthology sounds really interesting (First World War Poems from the Front, publisher: Imperial War Museum, out on 15 Aug 2014) - but one segment of this article in particular caught my eye:


The anthology also includes three poems by the American nurse Mary Borden which have only previously existed as handwritten drafts. O'Prey called her "an astonishing poet"; she was independently wealthy but enlisted in the French Red Cross in 1914, funding and running her own military field hospital. Writing of her experience in 1929's The Forbidden Zone, Borden said: "It was my business to know which of the wounded could wait and which could not. I had to decide for myself. There was no one to tell me. If I made any mistakes, some would die on their stretchers on the floor under my eyes who need not have died."


Some quick links for those who like background:


Mary Borden (wikipedia, article apparently in need of more cites)

Mary Borden/ (I think that site may be based around a Borden bio)

The Forbidden Zone: A Nurse's Impressions of the First World War (Goodreads link)


This is going to be yet another one of my usual "I know her name, but I forget which history book or article mentioned her" moments. But my reaction is also the usual - "I want to read her book." Then the usual problem - her book seems to be a bit hard to obtain. ...Ok to be fair, hard to obtain in a world where so much is on the internet, available for immediate perusal. My choices are to buy a paper copy (a 2008 reprint) or get a book from the library that has an excerpt of The Forbidden Zone - which is still a book worth noting: Nurses at the Front: Writing the Wounds of the Great War. I'll probably try and get my hands on that one as soon as I can make it to the (one) library branch that has a copy. It's only an excerpt though, and those always make me wonder what's been left out. 



Added Later!:

So just as I finished this I decided to do a bit more googling, and what do you know, somehow I'd missed this link which has the entire text:


The Forbidden Zone by Mary Borden


Of course there's no way for me to tell if that's the complete text, but I think it probably is. That website is about the American Field Service Volunteers (link to main page of the site where the text is located).


I should add here that the sort of stories that those volunteers came back with are often grueling - this wasn't a job for the fainthearted. The fact that many British conscientious objectors went to war as ambulance drivers should be proof that these people weren't cowards. Drivers and volunteers often saw the war as close as any of the front line soldiers. (Aside: I only know about WWI Brit conscientious objectors because I read about them specifically, not sure about elsewhere. Both of the WWs have SO much history involved.)


The further paragraphs of mild-rant still stand though. But it's nice to see that someone has made this particular book available, and I'm really grateful for it. I'm also going to (eventually) read some of Borden's other books that I found online.


Anyway, on with what I wrote previously. Because yes, I'm too busy to work this into the rest - and better to just admit that I hadn't googled it up immediately!



All of this is a great answer to the people who will say that they don't see why everyone can't just make the jump to all ebooks. Granted most of the people I read that say that are over in the design blogs and are working with 600 or less sq feet of apartment - but the idea that since you can get "everything" in ebook form, why should you bother with paper at all? And this is my answer - not everything is in ebook form, unless you only ever read current US authors. Not everything will be digitized - there will always be books you won't find. Mary Borden's Forbidden Zone has been cited in various histories and yet it's not in ebook form. There are countless books that are still used as references in history and literature classes that aren't in ebook form. And there are still tons of paper books that have gone out of print and never been digitized - so your only hope of ever reading them is the library or buying one used. In fact with the many cuts to libraries, you're often more likely to find the book in the used stores online than in a library.


I really hope I'm around long enough to see what happens when the current generation grows up and tries to go back and discover their old ebooks that they deleted and forgot about. (20 or 30 yrs from now?) Will it still be easy to find the ebooks published in the past few decades? I'm pretty sure that 98% will still be in existence (unless something radical happens), but I wonder if there will be some that just aren't accessible anymore. I wonder if many of the ebooks that libraries can lend out won't be available because those older ebooks are too expensive for the libraries to purchase/rent from publishers - unless there's a sudden popular demand for early 2000s lit.


Where I come down in this argument is also a usual spot for me - in the middle. I use both ebook and paper. Partly because I love both formats, but mainly because, again, you just can't get all books in ebook format - especially when it comes to anything published prior to 1970. Many of the history books I've enjoyed will never be something I can get in ebook form - there's just not as much demand for them. Since I don't mind reading used books this isn't a problem. But I keep seeing comments/articles that assume all readers could make the jump to "all ebooks, and only ebooks" as if it was a matter of choice. Nope, that time isn't here yet. 


Meanwhile adding this to my TBR pile reminds me that, while I may have read Robert Graves' I Claudius books, I never have gotten around to his autobiography Goodbye to All That. He apparently goes into some of his bitterness over his experiences in WWI - that link'll give you an idea of its contents.