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Home Before Morning

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  526 ratings  ·  58 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, 331 pages
Published August 1st 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 HerrWe Were Soldiers Once... and Young by Harold G. MooreAbsolutely Nothing by Mark A. Cooper
Best Literature About the Vietnam War
32nd out of 195 books — 392 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee90 Miles to Freedom by K.C. HiltonWood, Talc and Mr. J by Chris   RoseA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Powerful Books
47th out of 122 books — 156 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,053)
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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
Paul Hamilton
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
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
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".
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.

Stephen Gallup
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
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
Fraser Sherman
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
"Once, when we finished with a patient he knew was going to die, he looked across the table at me and said, 'I am tired and sick of war. It's glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded, who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell." He shook his head and then asked, 'Do you know who said that, Van?'


'William Tecumseh Sherman,' he answered. 'He was supposedly a national hero. Why didn't we le
I haven't bought a new book, a real hardback book, in more than 5 years. It came today - and it's done today. This is another book that makes you think: what would I have done, or how would I have felt, as a fresh-faced 20-something newly graduated Army nurse plopped right into one of the more dangerous areas of the Vietnam war. Engrossing, tragic, heartfelt and inspiring, it brings home the compassion and sacrifices made by men and women during and after the war, particularly those charged with ...more
Lindsay Jenkins
The was a very emotional read but it opened my eyes to a subject that I have really avoided. I have a hard time reading or learning about wars but Lynda's view allowed me to learn about her time in Vietnam and the struggles she faced. I think this book would be a great read for anyone just because of what you can learn from it.
It is tough to get through some of the parts and I have to admit I broke down more than once. There are so many different issues and topics related to her story that it m
Sep 30, 2007 Ellen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nurses
Shelves: memoir
Wow! what a ride! This is one amazing story; it's about the author's year-long tour in Vietnam as an army nurse, as well as the psychological aftermath. It's hard to imagine anyone having lived through that kind of tragedy, chaos, and loss. What a fascinating account. War is hell. It's sad what we haven't learned from history.
Addendum of interest: I have since learned that the TV show China Beach was based on this book.
Author Lynda Van Devanter served as a U.S. Army nurse at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku from 1969-70. Home Before Morning is Lynda's highly acclaimed memoir. Lynda and so many other women faced the brutality of the Vietnam War every day. Their service to their country was all but ignored during the war and immediately after. To all women who served "Thank you and welcome home".
I was a few years too young to be a nurse during the Viet Nam era. Always felt I would be a better nurse if I had been able to be a military nurse. In reality, it probably would have hardened me beyond compare based on what I read in this book. God Bless all the military nurses especially those who saw such action and those who currently serve.
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.
Katy Brandes
This was an okay memoir, but I didn't feel a connection to the author. Her experiences were tragic, and her expression of them seemed heartfelt, but the book was just okay. The stories of the patients were interesting, and you can feel for all of them, but her telling was just not riveting.
westie mom
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.
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.
Note: Author name is Linda Van Devanter NOT Van Devanti as indicated by goodreads.
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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
More about Lynda Van Devanter...
Visions of War, Dreams of Peace

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