Nightingales: The Story of Florence Nightingale and her Remarkable Family by Gillian Gill Sceptre, $135 This extraordinary biography was called 'magnificent' by the Boston Globe, although some reviewers found the first four chapters on Nightingale genealogy annoying. However, it's British academic Gillian Gill's contention that one needs to understand her upper-middle class family to understand Florence Nightingale. It gave her support, and connections including the politician Gladstone, as she devoted her life to defeating a system that did more to hasten death than hold it at bay. Gill, whose previous work includes Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries, is extremely good on Nightingale's experiences in the Crimea. The detail is quite harrowing. After the war, Nightingale set about changing hospitals forever, fighting a shocking indifference to even basic aftercare - sanitation, food, even fresh air. Gill also sets the record straight on a number of points.