Jonathan Kaplan is multi-talented. He is a doctor, specialising in frontline surgical work, but also an investigative reporter, documentary film-maker and very gifted writer. Contact Wounds is both prequel and sequel to his stunning debut memoir, The Dressing Station. Perhaps taking the hint from a reviewer's remark he is "at his best when writing about himself", this book focuses more on his own background, South African upbringing, early sexual experiences and education, but is otherwise the mixture as before - and none the worse for that.
For Kaplan is, by his own admission, a war junkie. He writes of being on the Kurdish frontline, "out there, all the other fears that beset me - doubt about my professional commitment, my career, finding a home - vanished in the immediacy of survival; in the midst of war I'd glimpsed a sort of shelter, an elusive peace".
This is mainly what attracts him to the world's trouble spots, in this volume adding Angola and Iraq to Kurdistan, Mozambique, northern Burma and Eritrea. But it is not the whole story. There is also pride in his surgical skills and a generous idealism in his readiness to save innocent victims of the atrocities of war, or mend their shattered bodies.
Courtsey Tony Gould The Sunday Independent. Friday, 17 February 2006