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November 9, 2023

The Woman with a Purple Heart by Diane Hanks ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

Based on the real-life of Lieutenant Annie Fox, Chief Nurse of Hickam Hospital, The Woman with a Purple Heart is an inspiring WWII novel of heroic leadership, courage, and friendship that also exposes a shocking and shameful side of history.

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book cover of historical fiction novel The Woman with a Purple Heart by Diane Hanks
November 2023; Sourcebooks Landmark; 978-1728265117
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); biographical fiction

The Woman with A Purple Heart
is based on the real-life of Annie G Fox who was a nurse during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was the first female to be awarded a Purple Heart.  It's apparent that the author did extensive research to be able to write this book because this nurse's heroic activities were buried in history and little was known about her.

Annie Fox was a career Army nurse.  She was 48 years old when she was transferred to Hickman Field and she felt that this transfer was the Army's way of telling her that she was too old.  Her arrival at Pearl Harbor was less than a month before the Japanese bombed the island and started the war.  After the attack, the hospital was full of injured and dying men but Annie was able to keep calm and worked with the other nurses to keep them calm and make rational decisions despite their fear.  She knew that the nursing staff needed more help so she recruited some nurses from the local Japanese American health center - a move that wasn't very popular with some of the wounded soldiers.  Kay was one of the Japanese-American nurses and they were friends.  Annie is shocked when Kay is arrested as a possible spy and tries to find her to bring her back to her children.  When all of the Japanese civilians in Hawaii are sent to internment camps in America, she doesn't understand the prejudice that exists and keeps trying to get Kay returned home.

I am always amazed when an author writes a story based on a real person whose bravery has been forgotten.  It seems to happen more with brave women who made a real difference during the war.  Annie Fox was a real hero and as many WWII books as I've read, this is the first time that I've ever read about her.  The book not only talks about her and her bravery but highlights what really happened on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked -- the bravery of the soldiers, the death and destruction, and the courage of the Army nurses and doctors all made a difference on the 'day that will live in infamy'.

NOTE:  Maj. Annie G. Fox (August 4, 1893 – January 20, 1987) was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart for combat. She served as the chief nurse in the Army Nurse Corps at Hickam Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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