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'Fighting for Life'

Director Terry Sanders examines the largely unsung role of doctors and nurses in Iraq, who labor mightily to save lives and limbs against fearsome odds.

The documentary began as a profile of the Uniformed Services University, which graduates about a quarter of all the active-duty physicians in the armed services, but which is frequently targeted by budget-cutters in Congress. But Sanders soon saw there was a larger story to tell, and he followed graduates into the war zone.

The film that's emerged is admirably restrained — it doesn't editorialize at all — but it's hard to watch 19-year-olds having limbs amputated without thinking about the politics of war.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.