Author(s): Gavin McLean
This first book in the Centenary History of New Zealand and the First World War tells the story of the hospital ships. Based on extensive research, it brings to life a mixed crew of ship-owners, politicians, mariners, doctors, nurses and patients as they battle sea-sickness, explore foreign lands, pull rank, mutiny, squabble over privileges and bitch about food while sitll managing to care for patients under difficult and often dangerous circumstances. Life on a hospital ship was no pleasure cruise. Much more than a book directed at maritime or medical history buffs, The White Ships illustrates many of the war's big issues. It explores the role of government, from the relationship between the governor and his ministers to New Zealand's relationship with British officials, especially over transport allocation. On the home front, it examines community fundraising and soldier support, attitudes to alcohol, labour relations and - using private business records - the vexed question of war profits and profiteering.