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Home Before Morning

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  688 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
On June 8, 1969, a patriotic, happy-go-lucky young nurse fresh out of basic training arrived in Vietnam to serve a year's tour of duty as a second lieutenant in the Army. It was a year that was to rob Lynda Van Devanter of her youth, her patriotism, her innocence - and her future.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 12th 2001 by University of Massachusetts Press (first published 1983)
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The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienMatterhorn by Karl MarlantesDispatches by Michael HerrA Rumor Of War by Philip CaputoThe Quiet American by Graham Greene
Best Literature About the Vietnam War
32nd out of 217 books — 385 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeWood, Talc and Mr. J by Chris   Rose90 Miles to Freedom by K.C. HiltonA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Powerful Books
54th out of 141 books — 176 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,363)
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Maryclaire Zampogna
I can't say how sorry I am that I didn't read this book 20 years ago when everybody was coming home from Nam and I was in my own world. I have a great appreciation for all Vets, men and women who are in any war area. I found this book on display at Arlington Cemetery in the WOMENS building. My daughter pointed out that day after reading the displays that the women didn't receive the same benefits as the men. Then I had to read this book. It sure is an eye opener to what they had to endure during ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just re-read this book after having read it for a seminar class on America in 1960's almost 20 years ago. This book is easily the most powerful Vietnam memoir I have ever read.
Paul Hamilton
Sep 08, 2011 Paul Hamilton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: Nikki
My wife has been pestering me to pick up Lynda Van Devanter's memoir of serving as a nurse in the Vietnam War for years. The thing is, I don't really like memoirs all that much. Too often they spend a third or more of the book going over the kinds of "start at the beginning" backstories which don't really add as much to the framing of the meat as the authors think. This is especially true of stories where either childhoods were especially harsh and difficult (nearly always highlighted in tales o ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
thank you, Lynda, for writing this brutally frank and difficult book. It has been 40 years+ since the Vietnam War ended. I was just a child... protesting like so many millions of others against an unjust and undeclared war... and hating returning soldiers... not 'spitting' as she experienced, but vocally agreeing with those who did... seeing all of them as 'baby-killers' and personally responsible for Mai Lai.. I have long since acknowledged how wrong I was in that regard, how unjust and downrig ...more
Jul 16, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the author's, an army nurse, year serving in the 71st Evac hospital in Vietnam near the Cambodian border during the Vietnam War and its affect on her life afterwards. Graphic page-turner that should be read by everyone who thinks that sending troops into foreign countries to conduct war is "a good thing".
Jan 21, 2012 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Lynda Van Devanter is a completely honest author. She's going to tell you about her job as a nurse in Vietnam and she isn't going to hold anything back. That's why I love her.

There are many books about the soldier experience in Vietnam ("The Things They Carried" is a pretty good one) but I really enjoyed reading from the persective of a nurse, it's not a thing you think about much but if I had been alive during that time, I probably would have been a Vietnam nurse. There were so many of them.

Aug 23, 2015 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
After her year in Vietnam, the author gave a great deal of her energy to getting recognition for veterans, specifically women, so it's ironic that U Mass republished this book in 2001 just before the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center created a climate in the United States in which people cannot do enough, at least symbolically, for military veterans. Is the book still worth reading?
For me it was riveting. I picked it up because it was one of the chief sources for the China Beach
Stephen Gallup
Feb 25, 2015 Stephen Gallup rated it really liked it
For years I've said that memoir is the genre I prefer above all others (having made a formal study of it and written my own). Memoirs that appeal to me are those that shed light on some important aspect of life while also being well written.

There is no question that Home Before Morning meets the first test. The war in Vietnam was an incredibly significant part of 20th century history, for many reasons. Most of it remained abstract for those of us who did not participate (I was in college at the
Apr 30, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing
Home Before Morning
By: Lynda Van Devanter
Non fiction
331 pages

Summary: Home before Morning is a book about a girl named Lynda and her experiences in the Vietnam war as a nurse. More importantly, the book is about how everything made her feel from the dead bodies to the constant bombings and raids.

One event that really made me think in this book was when Lynda's best friend dies. This made me think because i have no idea of how she must have felt about losing her. This also made me think what if
Feb 04, 2016 Martha rated it really liked it
This memoir is the story of Lynda Van Devanter and her experiences as an Army nurse sent to Vietnam for a year. As I myself am a nurse who served in the Nurse Corps, right away I found myself drawn into her story. Her experiences are well written and speak to not only the medical side of her experience but takes a close look at the emotional aspect of serving during this era. VERY different from my own experiences and it was interesting to reflect back on how much things have changed and yet how ...more
Fraser Sherman
Apr 06, 2014 Fraser Sherman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I read this as background for a novel I'm working on, but it's excellent in its own right. Van Devanter tells how she and her best friend went from nurse to Army nurse in a burst of idealism (if our boys were fighting for freedom, shouldn't they help?), only to enter a harrowing world of desperate surgeries and triage, random enemy attacks and sudden death, which they survive with the help of love affairs, booze and pot (one criticism of the book when it came out in the early 1980s was that it w ...more
May 07, 2016 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this for the first time as a teenager and it stayed with me. I found a copy at the local friend's of the library books sale and I was so excited! I read it again and it still moved me. What amazing people were in Vietnam, working hard, and coming back to a country that treated them terribly.
westie mom
May 31, 2011 westie mom rated it really liked it
A timely read for Memorial day. Reminds me of Helene's Journal and a downward spiral.
Brought back bad memories of vet's and their personal trauma/dealings w/me.
Such a totally wasted war. It should be mandatory for all members of congress/presidents to visit war zones regularly.
Mar 31, 2011 Morgan rated it really liked it
This book was quite the adventure. It has love, war, friendship, death etc. It was very gripping. I am so glad I had to read this for school becuase I loved it.
Dec 19, 2014 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My interest has recently focused on the Pacific battleground of Okinawa, but living on that island during the time of the Vietnam conflict led me to explore it from the point of view of the nurses who served. First, I caught up with all four seasons of the series, "China Beach" and then found the book that inspired the series. This is a remarkable account by a young nurse whose year "in-country" affected the rest of her short life. In this case, I recommend reading the book after watching the DV ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Teri rated it really liked it
Excellent. Sad. Inspiring. Very enlightening regarding Vietnam and Veterans. Borrowed from Dad.
Sep 25, 2008 Shirley rated it it was amazing
Tragic story of American nurses life on the front lines of Vietnam War.
Dec 24, 2010 Jessica rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I had to read in school. What an amazing story!
Nov 14, 2014 Danielle rated it really liked it
Van Devanter tells a compelling story, so compelling that you almost forget it's real. It wasn't until the end of the book with her epilogue about going back to Vietnam and the updated afterword that it really hit me that this HAPPENED. Obviously, I knew Vietnam happened, but it's hard to believe that the world let some of the events she described actually occur. Van is an inspiration to women. She found courage and lobbied for women's rights, as they weren't often recognized as veterans. While ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
Lynda Van Devanter's book is brutally honest about how she was a Vietnam nurse with the hopes of helping the wounded soldiers. That she did with valor and dignity. She became the soldier's anchor when they were hurting or dying and pleading for their mothers or their wives or girlfriends. She took everything in stride and held it together but sometimes inside she was falling apart like war can do to people after seeing and dealing with human carnage that sometimes can't be repaired emotionally o ...more
Feb 09, 2016 Norma rated it it was amazing
What a good quick read...less than 250 pages and an engrossing overview of WW II nursing in the Phillipines....carrying for thousands of wounded soldiers in pretty horrific conditions..Sally Hitchcock Pullman took me along for the ride. Though her time I the South Pacific included bouts of boils, amoebic dysentery, earthquakes, mosquitoes, creepy, crawly bugs and even a giant monitor lizard that meanders through camp, Ms. Pullman kept an amazingly positive attitude during her time in the army.
Laura Mann
Sep 08, 2015 Laura Mann rated it it was amazing
I went through a period of time when I tried to consume as many books about Vietnam that I could. About the experience, about the country and about the war itself. I watched every movie and every tv show I could. I happened upon Lynda Van Devanter's book in an afternoon spent in Barnes and Noble. I read it in one evening. It was honest and painful and it gave me the women's point of view that I was looking for. This book is in my top ten favorites of all time.
Apr 15, 2014 Marcia rated it really liked it
This is the story of people you seldom hear about when comes to the Vietnam War ... the nurses, doctors and medical support crew that worked in horrific conditions and under almost unbearable strain and pressure. There is not the atmosphere of joviality or medical glamour here -- this is not M.A.S.H. It is a hard book to read, but, like any of Tim O'Brian's books, it must be read.
Lia Silver
The story of an American nurse in Vietnam during the war. Probably the single best Vietnam war memoir I've read, and I've read lots of them. Well-written, brutal, vivid, and extremely honest.

If you're at all interested in the Vietnam war from a female, and/or medical perspective, this is the book to read; if you want to know what PTSD feels like, this is the book to read too.
Aug 06, 2008 Jen rated it liked it
I read this book for my American history class. The author is a nurse, and this is her first--possibly only--book, and her writing style is a bit trite and unsophisticated at times. But she has a great story to tell. It's about her experiences working as an army nurse in Vietnam. Even though the writing leaves a bit to be desired at times, I would highly recommend this book. Especially to anyone who was not around during that time period. I have to warn you, though, this is really tough to read ...more
C. Kellogg
Feb 21, 2015 C. Kellogg rated it it was amazing
Thank you Linda Van Devanter!
Although a difficult read for me… (I am of that generation and lost many classmates to the Vietnam war…) It was a truly enlightening account from a nurses perspective!
If I had my way, this book would be required high school lit material. Great nuggets of truth and consequence of life and consequences of war can be gleaned from this book.
Truly a worthy book!
Jun 23, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
One of the most memorable books I have ever read. The women who served in Vietnam were not even acknowledged for many years after the end of that war. I cried more tears than I want to admit while reading this book. Should be required reading for everyone in the U.S.
Aug 12, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing
A sad story of an Army Nurse who assigned to the 71st Evac Hospital, Pleiku, Viet Nam during our undeclared war in that country. Is is a soldiers story told through the eyes of this young girl. A picture of the burned and mutilated boys who fought there, the civilians who were wounded as a result of combat, collateral casualties). Then her struggle with PTSD on her return to the "world." Finally how she finally came to terms with her year in Viet Nam and her work with the V.V.A. Viet Nam Veteran ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Very moving - it's strange to say that I enjoyed this book, because it was such a heart-wrenching story - but I did. I'm amazed at what the author and so many women like her experienced in Vietnam, then once they returned home.
Jul 08, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most interesting books I have read lately. It is written by a female veteran who was a nurse in Vietnam during the war. Great writing and interesting subject. I highly recommend.
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Lynda Van Devanter was one of thousands of American women who served as nurses in Vietnam during the war. Like many of these other women, she worked grueling shifts in a poorly equipped hospital and treated horrible wounds. Upon returning to the United States, she struggled with feelings of anger, depression, and hopelessness with little support from either the U.S. government or American society. ...more
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