Anat Rosenberg
February 16, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Norman Bethune was an early-20th-century doctor without borders: The pioneering battlefield surgeon worked on the front lines of the Spanish civil war and China’s Communist revolution. Dennis Bock’s novel, The Communist’s Daughter, is fashioned as a series of letters, and merges fact and fiction to recount how the real-life Bethune, a Canadian minister’s son, became a Communist driven to pursue his ideals, no matter the personal cost. While the pacing lags in places, Bock’s spare narrative draws a well-rounded character study of a dedicated, flawed individual ultimately ravaged by the tedium and monstrosity of war surrounding him. B

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