Books: God & the Drains

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (382 pp.) Cecil Wood ham-Smith—McGraw-Hill ($4.50).

"Mama was terrified" when Flo Nightingale announced she wanted to be a nurse. In 1845, any mother would have felt the same way. Nurses were dirty, drunken, promiscuous. Florence Nightingale would change all that as she was to change many things. British army privates in their fetid barracks, smug bureaucrats in the musty War Office, viceroys in palaces were all to feel the reach of her will and missionary zeal.

In tears, Mother Nightingale had confided to a friend: "We are ducks who have hatched a...

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