Norman Bethune vs. Lester B. Pearson

A battlefield doctor goes head to head with a peacekeeper

Norman Bethune

Why he’s famous: Bethune revolutionized battlefield medicine.

Why he deserves to win: During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Bethune invented a mobile blood transfusion service which could collect blood from donors and deliver it wherever it was needed. His “mobile blood bank” is considered the greatest medical innovation from the war. Later, Bethune would take his battlefield medicine expertise to China, where he became the Red Army’s Medical Chief and taught his techniques to new doctors and nurses. Think of Bethune as the Canadian Florence Nightingale.

Lester B. Pearson

Why he’s famous: Putting the peacekeeping bug in the UN’s ear, though the blue helmets were somebody else’s idea.

Why he deserves to win: Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 for his role in establishing an international police force aimed at quelling lingering tensions from the previous year’s Suez Crisis. In doing so, Pearson effectively created the concept of peacekeeping, not only transforming the UN’s raison d’être, but also altering Canada’s role on the world stage. The former Canadian prime minister didn’t quite get soldiers to make love, but he showed they were good at making things other than war.

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Next: Sir William Osler vs. Alexander Graham Bell

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