Don't Mean Nothing
Short Stories of Vietnam
The Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of an Army nurse
In this powerful story collection—the first such work of fiction by a woman who served in Vietnam—Susan O’Neill offers a remarkable view of the war from a female perspective. All the nurses who served there had 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 inevitably became objects of both reverence and sexual desire.
For American nurses in Vietnam, and the men among whom they worked and lived, a common defense against the steady onslaught of dead and dying, wounded and maimed, was a feigned indifference—the irony of the powerless. With the assistance of alcohol, drugs, and casual sex, "Don’t mean nothing" became their mantra, a means of coping with the other war—the war against total mental breakdown.
Each or these tales offers new and profound insight into the ways the war in Vietnam forever changed the lives of everyone who served there.
"Offers startling glimpses of absurdity and transcendence at three Vietnam field hospitals where, against a background of blood and testosterone, young female officers and nurses are made simultaneously into saviors, survivors, and sex objects. . . . as entertaining as it is harrowing."—Los Angeles Times
"Dialogue plastered with soldierly ‘trash talk’ may offend some, but she has nailed the Vietnam argot—obscene talk for an obscene war. . . . This is writing of a virtuoso who continues to engage, teach, and amaze her readers."—Louisville Courier-Journal
"The real star, which seems like the missing piece to a puzzle we’ve been working on for decades, is the female point of view on loss, desire, and mercy in what the Vietnamese call ‘the American War."—Arizona Republic
"Refreshing maturity and a profound sense of compassion. . . . Focused and sympathetic, this is a valuable contribution to the mostly macho literature of Vietnam."—Publishers Weekly