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We Will Not Be Strangers: Korean War Letters between a M.A.S.H Surgeon and His Wife

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In the first war Americans didn't care to understand, a young M.A.S.H. surgeon finds himself in a dusty hospital tent on the Korean front. He and his new wife back in Manhattan exchange daily letters in which they express the timeless urgency of young love and a mutual contempt for war. Even though their day-to-day lives offer stark contrast, his spent in a blood-smeared apron and gloves, hers teaching high school Spanish and taking dance classes with Martha Graham, Mel and Dorothy are determined to chronicle these disparate experiences for one another so that, in their words, 'we will not be strangers.' By examining the minutiae, they avoid exploring the emptiness; by framing their lives in the normalcy of the 1950s, they avoid confronting the reality that their lives are not theirs alone to control.

Attending separate Rosh Hashanah services, his in a mess tent and hers in a Park Avenue synagogue, they are reminded of the pain of their separation. In Mel's hands, Dorothy's letters comment on Sid Caesar, Edward R. Murrow, Joseph McCarthy, and Adlai Stevenson, while Dorothy holds anguished accounts of the carnage and uselessness of war. Now, more than 45 years later, we are just beginning to understand Korea as a kind of dress rehearsal for another lengthy and unpopular conflict -- Vietnam. And Dorothy and Mel are just beginning to understand how their youthful experiences -- together, even if only by mail -- laid the groundwork for a mature and enduring union.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 1997

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Dorothy G. Horwitz

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 16 books444 followers
Shelved as 'research'
September 12, 2022
Profile Image for Melanie Therese.
13 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2016
I sought out We Will Not Be Strangers for research purposes, and it did not disappoint.

The letters are heavy with longing, but at the same time deal with everyday issues as in a matter of fact manner. They paint a clear picture of how a loving and devoted couple deals with being separated by 3,000 miles. You soldier on, both of you. You share everything even though you cannot touch one another. You wait, but you do it together.

It's fascinating to read Melvin's cataloging of his daily routines. He so badly wanted Dorothy to really understand his new life, that he manages to pull you right into it with him. He makes it easy to understand the challenges he faced, not just as a regular guy whose life had been turned upside down, but as a surgeon who was daily performing operations he had never expected to.

Dorothy has at least not been forced to take up an entirely new life. But how much more heartbreaking is it to have the other half of your life disappear completely from your daily rounds? Her surroundings may be comfortingly familiar, but as she writes they are also starkly empty.

I sought out We Will Not Be Strangers for research purposes, but it gave me so much more.

Cheers all,
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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