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Book and Media Reviews
December 22 2010

Notes on Nightingale: The Influence and Legacy of a Nursing Icon

JAMA. 2010;304(24):2747-2751. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1869

Given the breadth of existing content on Florence Nightingale, this book is unexpectedly compelling. Instead of another historical recounting of Nightingale's life and works, the editors use the sociopolitical and religious backdrop of the Victorian era as their framework and bring together noted Nightingale scholars from England, Canada, Australia, and the United States to research the vast archives of Nightingale correspondence and the historical record. The result is a scholarly analysis of the challenges Nightingale faced when implementing nursing and system changes during the Crimean War, the outcome of her attempts to expand the Nightingale nursing model to other countries, and her contributions as a statistician, as well as an exploration of the global persistence of the “Nightingale imperative.” The 2 chapters on the controversial aspects of Nightingale's life and how her values relate to current nursing practice, while less analytical in their presentation style, are nonetheless thought-provoking.