by Roderick Stewart
A Canadian Children's Centre Book Our Choice 2005
Norman Bethune was an independent spirit whose courage and determination took him halfway around the world to bring medical care to people caught in the horror of civil war.
Self-willed, stubborn and opinionated, Bethune was outspoken in his criticism of mainstream society and tradition. Driven by a goal to do "something great for the human race," he trained as a surgeon and gained a reputation for his exceptional abaility to operate quickly.
In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, he went to Spain and set up a mobile blood transfusion service that delivered blood to front-line troops, something that had never been done before. In 1938 he took medical supplies to China for Mao Zedong's Eighth Route Army. Once there, he created a mobile hospital that operated on soldiers close to the battlefield.
Norman Bethune became a martyr in China, where he is honoured to this day.
In Canada he has been recognized as "a Canadian of national historical significance."