Reviews

“This well written memoir is the only one I have seen by a British nurse. We have placed it in our library at the Vietnam’s veterans of America headquarters in Maryland, USA.” — Marc Leepson – ARTS EDITOR , THE V.V.A VETERAN MAGAZINE


“Anne Watts chose a life of dedication as a nurse, and entered deeply into the new international empire of suffering. In Vietnam, Cambodia, the Lebanon and in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm she had to deal with human wreckage at its most heart-rending…She writes at the same cool level of intensity that she must draw upon when she goes to work. Her subject matter is enough to make you believe that there is no hope for the world, but the devotion and sympathetic force she brings to dealing with it suggest that there just might be some hope yet.” Clive James


” Sometimes a person’s life story will bring you up short and put things in perspective. This is one such book…Anne Watt’s memoir has so many impressive elements, it’s hard to give it the praise it, and she, deserves…her memories of that time are heart-rending and inspirational…This is a tale of real courage and devotion to other people’s children; the word heroine has rarely been used so pertinently “. – Abigail Kemp, Manchester Evening News


” Until I heard this extraordinarily uplifting memoir, my favourite book about wartime nurses was A Farewell to Arms. Anne Watts isn’t Catherine Barkley, she’s the real deal. Since 1967 she has worked for Save the Children in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones – Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, the Gulf. What makes her story so memorable is the unsentimental, clear-eyed gaze she casts over the horrors she witnesses. Of course she is affected by them – babies gnawed by rats, mutilated children, dying soldiers – but early childhood tragedy has taught her how to hide her emotions, how to adopt the time-honoured “grace under pressure” Hemingway code. She describes herself as a stick of rock with “NURSE” written all the way through. She’s also a natural writer. Here is Nurse Watts, aged 26, arriving at the US military airport in Vietnam and being handed a pouch containing human ears and fingers by a traumatised GI. “I suddenly and very clearly recalled the look in his eyes staring into the distance, focusing on something we couldn’t see, something that no one should ever see. I’d only been in the country three and a half days and I’d already had my first experience of the thousand-yard stare.” – Sue Arnold for The Guardian Newspaper


” One way or another, war has shaped and dictated the remarkable life story of nurse Anne Watts…Now approaching her 70th birthday, Watts has put pen to paper and recorded her truly incredible story as a tribute to the children to whom she brought hope, and the young soldiers whose hands she held as they died. And what shines through the horror, the pain and the utter futility of war is Watts’ inspirational devotion, her spirit of adventure and her will to alleviate suffering whatever or wherever it might be. Her story is made all the more extraordinary by a bizarre and shocking sequence of events – a tragic reminder of the consequences of the buttoned-up Fifties – which destroyed her childhood and culminated in her mother’s premature death. But Watts is a survivor…she learned from her experiences but never allowed them to inhibit her own capacity for compassion…ALWAYS THE CHILDREN is a humbling, terrifying, shocking and yet strangely uplifting story of one woman’s selfless devotion and her undiminished determination to alleviate the suffering of her fellow human being. If you only read one book in 2010, make it this one.” –  Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post


” Anne Watts’s first, intensely moving book is published this month and she is at work on the second. Earlier this month she celebrated her 70th birthday. Two of the Cambodian children among the 40,000 on the Thai border came to the UK for the event, which coincided with her book launch. One of them was Ly Vichuta, daughter of Cambodia’s former minister of justice. Vichuta was 10 years old when she was warned by neighbours not to go home as the Khmer Rouge had taken her father and her siblings. She never saw them again. Vichuta is now a lawyer who has set up a charity in South-East Asia providing legal aid for children and women who have been rescued from human traffickers. Anne gave Vichuta an English dictionary 31 years ago and she was holding it aloft as they were re united at London’s St Pancras station. “She was always an incredibly bright girl and she said she had learned every word in that dictionary,” says Anne, humbled by the impact of her gift. – Jane Warren “The Angel of Hope” Interview in The Daily Express


” [on the nursing memoir genre] Anne Watts’s ALWAYS THE CHILDREN: A Nurse’s Story of Home and War is set to become a notable addition to the genre.” Stephanie Cross, The Lady


” Anne Watts is no traditional nurse following the path of starch and hospital hierarchy, charting instead a very different route for herself and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about her diverse and fascinating career. There are some incredible photos too, several very moving…Anne’s indomitable spirit shines through the most appalling experiences of man’s inhumanity to man…alongside her darker moments of doubt and fear mixed with anger, compassion and grief at what she witnesses. But there’s black humour too, always in evidence in most nursing environments and essential when you’ve been there. So expect some refreshingly light-hearted moments, much laughter, a wonderful encounter with Bob Hope and a few high-risk mischievous adventures too.”  –