Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

by Susan Kramer O'Neill


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Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam by Susan Kramer O'Neill

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345446084
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2001
Pages: 252
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.53(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Susan O’Neill was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and graduated from a Catholic nursing school in South Bend in 1968. Her first nursing job was as an Army operating nurse in South Vietnam in 1969. She met her husband, an army medical officer there in 1970. They have been married thirty years. Only after her three children were grown did she begin writing about on her experiences in Vietnam. Don’t Mean Nothing is her first book. She and her husband live in Andover, Massachusetts.

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