In quoting from a contemporary observer who noted that by virtue of their very nature it is “a small distance (that) women must travel to become nurses,” (145) Katrin Schultheiss sets up the main argument she advances in her analysis of the French politics of the professionalization of nursing in the Third Republic. In her discussion of the competing discourses of modernization, secularization, labor militancy, and feminization, which combined in intricate if at times oppositional ways to shape and inform the debate on women's place in public medicine and nursing, Schultheiss cautions against simple explanations and narrative arcs. This, the reader is told, is not simply the story of women's search for political recognition within the masculine public sphere; instead, it is one that outlines women's multi-pronged struggle for standardized training and professional status during the fin-de-siecle period. But the history and politics surrounding nursing's emergence at this time is bound up with other themes common to this period, from the rise of working-class consciousness among public workers, to the modernization of medicine as a discipline, and Church-state conflict. In viewing the micro and macro-level debates which enveloped nurses as a symptom of France's bumpy path to modernity, Schultheiss suggests that nursing acts as an important lens through which to observe larger struggles over gendered sacrifice, social citizenship, and political belonging at this critical juncture in French history.