The book recently won the Alan Paton award, beating five other titles, all with southern African links. Kaplan, who qualified as a doctor from UCT in 1977, has been a hospital surgeon, a ships' medical officer, a flying doctor and a battlefield surgeon, a filmmaker and journalist, working all over the world, including some of the hottest spots: Burma, Kurdistan and Mozambique.
According to journalist Jane Rosenthal, a publisher who knew that Kaplan had done some writing and journalism, originally commissioned the book. He had heard some of Kaplan's stories from a third party; stories of battling third world diseases, of the volunteer work with Kurdish refugees, of an illegal trip to Burma to investigate possible hospitals sites for refugees, of elephant slaughter to fund civil war in Mozambique and of industrial mercury poisoning in South Africa and Brazil.
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