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Paradise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  495 ratings  ·  76 reviews
A family doctor with limited surgical experience, Dr. Dave Hnida volunteered for two tours of duty in Iraq—first as a battalion surgeon with a combat unit and then as trauma chief at the busiest Combat Support Hospital (CSH) during the Surge. With honesty and candor, and the goofy, self-deprecating humor that sustained him and his fellow doctors through their darkest hours ...more
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Published April 27th 2010 by Tantor Media (first published 2010)
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Buggy
Opening Line: “The last time I talked to my dad was on a sweltering April evening in 2004.It was a lopsided conversation. He had died of a heart attack almost thirty years earlier.”

Paradise General is the gripping personal account of Dr. Dave Hnida, an ordinary civilian doctor from Colorado who spent four months as a trauma chief at one of the busiest combat hospitals in Iraq.

Staffed by reservist medics this modern day M.A.S.H unit consisted of a series of rundown buildings connected by tents, c
...more
Pamela Pickering
As a disclaimer, I am in the healthcare field (nursing) so I may find myself geared towards medical reads more than the average reader. I am also a resident of northern Colorado and have seen the author on Denver TV stations so I was intrigued.

Loved this book! Hnida kept me riveted with this humble, tender, and at times both funny and angry memoir. I found myself both laughing out loud and figthing back tears. As someone who has worked with surgeons on a regular basis it was refreshing to see th
...more
Kat (A Journey In Reading)
This is the story of an American physician who volunteers for two tours in Iraq. The story touches on his first tour and then goes deeper into his second tour where he is an ER physician working "just another day in Paradise".

Some would think that because this is a book about a war and a memoir that it will be dull and boring, it is anything but. Dr. Hnida shares his thoughts about his dad, his practice in Littleton, CO, his daughter and the sights he saw while on tour.

I love how he brought hu
...more
K.
I was given an ARC to review. Paradise General is an unforgettable look inside a combat hospital. Dave's humor is unexpected in a setting so blood-filled. Early on I doubted the humor could last, but he manages to weave in funny details and anecdotes through almost every chapter. Dave's internal journey is something that most adults can relate to. The mid-life odyssey is a traumatic search for answers and inner peace. We all dream of doing something that tests us, that gives to mankind, and that ...more
Dan
I keep telling myself that I am done reading books about the war in Iraq, but Paradise General offers a fresh look at the war that transcends politics. If you can get past the gore and black humor, it is a poignant book about mankind's humanity and lack thereof.
Adrienne
I read this book because:
1. A guy in my couples book club chose it for this month.
2. The author lives in my neighborhood.
3. I sort of know him in that 2 of my kids dated 2 of his kids in high school and his kids were charming. I have a particularly high regard for his daughter, Katie.
4. He's a local celebrity in that he is the medical reporter for a local news station.

All that being said, I didn't really expect to like the book. Non-fiction war books are not generally my cup of tea. I was pleasa
...more
Rachel
May 14, 2010 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Rachel by: english class
I thought this book was very good. I was mildly surprised that I enjoyed it so well. I thought it was going to be fairly dark, since it takes place in the middle of the war in Iraq. But it wasn't. I mean, it was dark but the darkness had quite a bit of humour spread throughout it (if that makes sense). It was a book that was very well written, I saw maybe one or two spelling mistakes, but that's expected in almost every book. There will always be a mistake they miss. It was nice to see the docto ...more
Paula
This was an excellent, very human account of one army doctor's experiences in Iraq. What I liked most was that the reader never loses his or her sense of Dave Hnida as a doctor and a father. I wept over the death of a fifteen-year-old insurgent, an "enemy soldier." I cried harder at the deaths of Americans, because Dr. Hnida never lets us forget that someone at home will have to be told the news, grieve the loss. And yet, through it all is his kind of corny sense of humor--one my own father woul ...more
Jenny T
The true account of a 48-year-old American physician who volunteers for a second tour of duty in Iraq, to work at a combat-support hospital, the equivalent of a MASH unit. Dr. Hnida writes of saving the lives of a group of American soldiers severely injured in a bomb blast, then struggling to save the life of the 15-year-old insurgent who planted the bombs... Because they're all someone's kids. Heartbreaking, but told with an incredible amount of humor and humanity. An incredible read, this book ...more
David Allison
This book accurately depicted everything I've felt since my last tour took my through the hospital at Balad the author so envied. Although my accomodations were nothing like his, the horror intially felt when the blades of a med-evaq cut through the desert was the same. I applaud the author, this was a fantastic book.
George Huner
A very moving, funny account of his time in Iraq, that reminds us of the very real cost of war. The quote of witnessing the "rude unhinging of the machinery of life" is chilling to think about. It is good to know that we have people like Dr. Dave caring for our troops.
Lance
Very interesting, I read it in one sitting. I am grateful there are people who volunteer for this type of duty.
Madi
For those of you who are like me, non-fiction is not the first section that we visit when we enter the library, but when reading paradise general by Dave Hnida, I was just as excited to read as I am any other genre. This exciting page turner was about the adventures of a trauma doctor for the war in Iraq. This book covers the mental and physical aspects of the torture that war inflicts on people. Taking care if both the soldiers that protect our freedom and the insurgents that are hurting our s ...more
Jon
I won this book from the Goodreads giveway and I personally would like to thank Dr. Hnida for selecting me as well as his signing and personal note attached to book.

This is a really good memoir and a fast-paced read. I am astonished at Dr. Hnida self-sacrifice to serve our country - to be deployed not once but twice to the theater of war. He could have easily stayed at home and continued his successful private practice, but as he highlights he felt penance. Dr. Hnida is a Littleton, CO Pediatr
...more
Chrissy
Good book about a physician's second deployment to Iraq as an ER doctor in a Combat Support Hospital for four months. The author conveys what every emergency medical practitioner feels: the sheer terror when you're put to the test with your first cases, the questioning of yourself and actions on certain patients, the routine it all eventually becomes, but then getting rocked to your core when you discover you can't save them all no matter how much you know and how much you do for them. The adren ...more
Leah Wicks
A well written book from a perspective we don't hear much about. Dr. Hnida is a good writer with an honest and at times humorous view of the tragedies of war. The casualties sustained by our young men and women are life long. It bothered me that our doctors were required to provide medical care to insurgents whose goal was to kill Americans. These military doctors stayed true to their oaths, but I can only imagine how hard it must have been. It's also a story about friendship, family, and servin ...more
Cheryl
The last time Dr. Dave Hnida saw his dad, they talked about Mr. Hnida's experience in World War II. In an attempt to understand his father better, Dave signed up for two tours of duty in Iraq. In this moving and sometimes humorous book, Dr. Hnida brings to life his experiences while serving his second tour at "Paradise General", a combat support hospital in Tikrit. His intimate account of life, duty, and sacrifice there is humbling. This is an honest, well written, great read!
Joanne
I thought this was a very well-written, highly entertaining book about subject matter that is sad, worrying and disturbing. The author is a family practice doctor (whose was GP to some of the Columbine victims) who signs up to serve as an emergency doctor in Iraq. This is about his experiences there. So it's kind of like MASH with a more subtle, serious sense of humor. One of the best Iraq memoirs that I have read.
Craig Brantley
No matter your political persuasion it should be remembered that young men and women are serving our country in harms way. Hnida's modern MASH makes the "old news" Iraqi conflict relevant and vivid to the reader. I hate the reasoning’s behind this war ever being fought, but moved by the heroics documented in this book.
Glennis
Fantastic read. A wonderful story teller! I enjoyed each and every page of this book.
Nate Andrews
May 04, 2010 Nate Andrews is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Great book so far, lot's of dark humor.
Deb
Dr. David Hnida volunteered for duty as an Army medic in 2004, at the age of 48. This book is about his second tour of duty in Iraq, in 2007.

It is a captivating recounting of Hnida's 3 1/2 months as Trauma Chief in the 399th CSH (Combat Surgical Hospital) in Iraq. His description of his experiences treating the young soldiers wounded by IEDs or bullets gives us insight to a part of the war that we seldom hear about - the "get-em-in, get-em-out" life-saving measures taken, often within minutes o
...more
Bart Breen
M*A*S*H* the Sequel

It's the easiest analogy in the world to compare this book to the cultural icon of M*A*S*H*. This book references the Book, Movie and Television Series M*A*S*H* several times while Dave Hnida recounts his experience as a reserve doctor at a combat hospital during the recent surge in Iraq. It should be qualified however, that this is more like the final seasons of M*A*S*H* when comedy began to give way to Hawkeye's maudlin self-reflection and questioning of the meaning of every
...more
Sean Keyser
Welcome to Paradise… not!
By Sean Keyser

Dave Hnida’s personal memoir Paradise General is a non-fiction story about the horrors he witnessed while serving as a medical doctor at a combat hospital in Iraq. The story is also about the bonds of friendship that brought the doctors who worked there together to overcome the stress of helping soldiers, whose bodies were in tatters, on a daily basis. The hospital where Dr. Dave Hnida worked, Paradise General, as the reader will soon find out, is anything
...more
Tracey Cramer-Kelly
When we first meet Dr. Hnida, he is hiding in an Iraqi ditch in 2004, embedded with a military unit and worried he is about to die. So he has a conversation with this dead father. (The point, I assume, was to set up this theme of father-son military experience.) However, I soon found that the topic of this memoir was his SECOND tour, in which he did doctor duties in a MASH-like unit (never got into the streets) for 4 months.

Though I would have liked to hear more about his first tour, this was an
...more
Katie
True story: Some years ago, a 40-something family practitioner from Colorado, or anywhere, really, looks at himself in the mirror and realizes that he needs to answer the call to go to war. With IEDs blowing soldiers apart and insurgents with weapons more powerful than their brains, this doctor's services are greatly needed, and for him, committing himself to a tour with the Army is the right thing to do.

Some people are very, very good people.

Dr. Hnida (or Dave, as he likes to be called) is on
...more
Lucas Leyba
An intriguing personal story, Paradise General by Dave Hnida is an entertaining telling of Dr. Hnida’s endeavors as a trauma doc in Iraq. When Hnida and the other doctors aren’t repairing splintered bones and bullet wounds, they’re cracking jokes and throwing rooftop parties. An odd mix, Hnida’s humor is very much apart of who he is, and his way of life at war. His best friends are many of his fellow doctors, the closest of which is Rick, whom Hnida met when he first arrived on a military bus a ...more
Mollie Merino
Extraordinary Things


Most people get a glimpse into what war-torn countries look like only through pictures and movies. But Dave Hnida, author of Paradise General, has seen and written about the worst Iraq has to offer. A riveting memoir by a surgeon at a “MASH” -like army hospital, Paradise General is full of horrifying medical cases, hilarious pranks of bored troops and a first person account of the mental toll war can take on a person. At times, I found myself wondering if I should be laughing
...more
Mark L.
Doctor Hnida provided insight on the inner workings and emotions that flowed within a Combat Surgical Hospital. As a frontline provider who only occasionally popped in and out of these units I was unaware of much of this and truly appreciated hearing their side. I feel Dr Hnida's depiction of daily events would be extremely interesting to non-military medical providers and the general public but personally I would have preferred if he would have followed at least one case from point of injury to ...more
Erin
Dave Hnida has a clear, concise writing style and tells a compelling story of what it's like to work in a combat hospital in Iraq. Hnida, a family doctor from Colorado who knew many of the students killed at the Columbine High School shooting, goes to Iraq in part to better know his father, who served in WWII, ended up becoming an alcoholic, and talked about his war experiences with his son only one time before dying of a heart attack. Hnida also feels strongly that it's important to serve.

The
...more
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Join CHS at Paradise General CHS 1 14 May 07, 2010 09:37AM  
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