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Book and Media Reviews
June 20, 2007

In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 2007;297(23):2641-2645. doi:10.1001/jama.297.23.2642

It is unusual to review a bestseller in JAMA. This is especially so when the story has already seeped into the popular culture as with Lee and Bob Woodruff's poignant memoir of the ABC News anchor's head trauma in Iraq. But In an Instant is a book about war and peace that speaks for all service personnel who have survived blast injury and now face an uncertain future.

Just 27 days in the anchor chair, Woodruff was perched in the open turret of an armored personnel carrier preparing to film a report. From his left an improvised explosive device buried under a mound of rocks detonated a 155-mm shell, launching shrapnel up toward him. The debris shattered his jaw, displaced his left orbit, and sheared his calvarium. It gashed into his back and neck, embedding a large stone just medial to his right carotid artery. (The soil also left an inoculum of omnipresent Iraqi Acinetobacter, which would later cause life-threatening pneumonia and sepsis.)