All Iowa Reads Selection Explores Brutal Realities of Civil War Medicine

What was it like to saw off dozens of legs a day during the Civil War?

I did research into women in science, and that's when I discovered that some women became physicians because of their experiences in the Civil War.

  In the novel My Name is Mary Sutter, author Robin Oliveira explores an entirely new kind of medicine that emerged during the Civil War. She says the idea for the book originally came to her when she was cleaning her house. 

"I was dusting my dining room one morning, and I had a vision of this young woman seated at a trestle table with medical books behind her. I then did research into women in science, and that's when I discovered that some women became physicians because of their experiences in the Civil War." 

Her book is the 2015 All Iowa Reads selection. It focuses on the life of a fictional Mary Sutter, who is a brilliant, headstrong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Oliveira about her writing process and researching Civil War medicine.