The president of IndieBRAG just told me I am in the running to become a finalist for their Book Cover contest, which starts on July 1st. The honor is not for my latest book, but for the first one I wrote: Warrior Patient. It’s a book that contains a lot of humor, and much that is serious. It is a memoir, written in the second person, and a love story that reads like a thriller. I am somewhat amazed that, after three years, its cover has been earmarked by indieBRAG, one of my favorite purveyors of good books (long before they flagged the cover).
One possible reason is that I explain the “mistake” of the book cover on the inside page. Perhaps the thought process, in its construction, tickled an award judge’s imagination.
On the cover, a patient (me) stands on rocks looking at a caduceus rising out of an ocean. It’s an allegory of hope and a totally, completely MISLEADING one. The symbolic staff, with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top, is often used by medical practitioners, and yet it has absolutely nothing to do with the practice of Medicine. It is a mistake, particularly prevalent in the United States.
The U.S. Army Medical Corps adopted the caduceus in a patch for their uniforms in 1902. They should have used the Rod of Asclepius, which is the proper symbol of medicine, similar, but quite different. The Rod of Asclepius shows a single serpent wrapped around a rod, no wings in sight. The Greek God Asclepius, who was associated with healing and medicine, wielded his rod to help the sick and those who cared for them.
The addition of two wings and an extra serpent proved irresistible to modern medicine.
The caduceus, in fact, is a powerful symbol of commerce. It has historically represented trade, eloquence, trickery, and negotiation.
Initially, the patient (me) sees the rising wings and serpents as a sign of hope. By the end of the book, however, I understand what it truly represents. Because I do, I survive the greatest medical system our civilization has ever known. With a lot of help from my wife, Kickan (Kerstin).