By Marian Moser Jones
The Johns Hopkins University Press, $39.95, 375 pages
This scholarly volume was not meant to be light bedtime reading, and it isn’t. The American Red Cross, the result of a monumental research project by Marian Moser Jones, outlines the chronology of the American Red Cross between the years of its foundation by Clara Barton in 1881 and the years leading up to World War II.
“The present volume offers not a comprehensive history of the American Red Cross, but rather a thorough analysis of the organization’s origins, principles, and practices in the disaster and humanitarian relief arena.”
The writing is scholarly and, while very readable, clearly intended for historians and those interested in the early years of the American Red Cross. Others may find the text dry and overloaded with detail. For anyone interested in finding specific information, the extensive index helps. Even the 10-page introduction is too extensive, too detailed. This is followed by a painstakingly exhaustive chronology from the birth of Clara Barton in 1821 up to 2011. Sixteen historic black-and-white illustrations in two sets break up the otherwise continuous text. More illustrations interspersed within the text would have been helpful.
The book is divided into three sections: The Barton Era, The Boardman Era and Between the Wars. A 26-page epilogue provides details from after World War II to 2012. Numerous subscripts refer to a huge list of references in the 72-page notes section.
Reviewed by George Erdosh