Book Review: On Call in Hell (Jadick)

On Call in Hell

Author: Cdr Richard Jadick © 2007 with Thomas Hayden

Publisher: NAL Caliber (Penguin)

Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography / Memoir

Subgenre: War – military, Medical, War Memoir, History

Reviewer: Sara

Book received by: Purchased at book fair

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The memoir of Commander Richard Jadick tells the story of his time in Iraq during the war in 2004 and the now-infamous Battle of Fallujah. With his team, Cdr. Jadick relocated emergency stabilization and treatment of the wounded soldiers to the battlefield. They altered the way battlefield medicine is practiced by making emergency treatments available to the injured without prolonged transport times and changed the outcomes for dozens of injured Marines.


Busy moms (and dads), here is a book that tells the story of awe-inspiring actions in the face of danger. It provides insight to war and battlefield medicine through the eyes of the physician who refused to remain behind while those in his unit went into battle. Cdr. Jadick’s story of ending up in the military at a late age, volunteering for deployment during the early days of the Operation Iraqi Freedom and designing changes to the organization of battlefield medicine that would alter the outcomes for hundreds (possibly now thousands) is fascinating.

The number of people introduced through the book is a little intimidating, and at a few points I wished I had started taking notes about who was who and their roles, similar to how I felt when I read “Black Hawk Down.” Overall, everyone who was introduced had a pertinent role, so while it was a challenge to keep track of everyone, there was not the issue of superfluous people whose role was insignificant or non-contributory to the overarching story. It also helps that there is an appendix with a quick reference to the four main Marine forces, the 1/8 battalion companies and the medical personnel who worked with Cdr. Jadick.

The book reads easily, with prose that flows and a sense of urgency that increases until the battle comes to an end. The story follows the natural path of warriors leaving the battlefield, and eventually returning home. There’s an appropriate “decrescendo” and closure of Cdr. Jadick and his unit’s time in Iraq, and Fallujah. In the final chapter, Cdr. Jadick gave an overview on the transition to home and what followed for both him and his personnel. It’s a riveting story of life on the battlefield and after, and left me with a renewed appreciation for the men and women in our military. Although many things may be remarkably different by the time my kids are old enough to read this book, with or without me, it’s one that I look forward to putting in their hands so that they, too, may appreciate true heroes, acts of bravery and valor.


Have you read On Call in Hell or another war-memoir book, particularly one with a medical focus? I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to the “to-read-and-review” shelf, especially by independently- or newly-published authors. If you have any to recommend, please share in the comments and many thanks!

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Featured image: Cover art, © Ethan Hill / Cover design by Anthony Ramondo.


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