Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

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9780345446084: Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

In this debut story collection–the first by a woman who served in Vietnam– Susan O’Neill offers a remarkable, unprecedented glimpse into the war from a female perspective. All the nurses who served there shared a common bond: to attend to the wounded. While men were sent to protect America’s interests at any cost, nurses were trained to save the lives of anyone–soldier or citizen, ally or enemy–who was brought through the hospital doors. It was an important distinction in a place where killing was sometimes the only objective. And since they were so vastly outnumbered, women were both revered and sexually craved.

For these women and the men among whom they worked and lived a common defense against the awful onslaught of dead and dying, wounded and maimed, was a feigned indifference, the irony of the helpless. “Don’t mean nothing” became their mantra, a small bunker in the real war–the war against total mental breakdown.

Powerful, provocative, and often wonderfully funny, each of these tales offers new and profound insight into how the war in Vietnam forever changed the lives of everyone who served there. “Broken Stone” is an astute look at the relinquishing of faith and the sacredness of sex. The tremendously touching “Butch” is a story of love, loss, and the native casualties of war. And the darkly hilarious “Monkey on Our Backs” follows the escapades of a much-maligned and detested pet primate who causes one Lieutenant so much grief that she asks a Marine to kill it. But like the cat that came back, the monkey remains–a reminder that taming a jungle is an exercise in futility.

A moving contribution by a woman to the literature of Vietnam, Don’t Mean Nothing is eye-opening and unforgettable. Here is a book that enlarges our understanding of the American experience in Vietnam

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From the Publisher:

The Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of an Army nurse.

From the Back Cover:

"A new voice has risen to join those with stories of America's war in Southeast Asia. Susan O'Neill writes bravely, with human decency and compassion. . . . Powerful characters, original stories. Some of them are simply magic."
--LARRY BROWN

"We've heard these Vietnam tales before, but never from this point of view. . . . A valuable addition to the literature."
--STEWART O'NAN

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Susan Kramer O'Neill
Published by Ballantine Books (2001)
ISBN 10: 0345446089 ISBN 13: 9780345446084
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