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American Daughter Gone to War: On the Front Lines With an Army Nurse in Vietnam Hardcover – October, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (October 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688111882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688111885
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Terse and telegraphic, Smith's style suits her subject: a year this army nurse spent caring for patients in the ICU, emergency and triage wards of a Saigon field hospital during the Vietnam War. Smith's story is almost unbearably gripping. The tenor and misery of the sick and wounded emerge vividly as she describes burn victims, amputees and the phantom pain felt by those with severed limbs. Primitive conditions, the tropical climate, stench, blood and constant danger all added to her occupational stress and exhaustion, which she relieved only through brief respites in local bars and hasty romances. After returning from three years of duty (1965-1968) to a family and a country torn by dissent, Smith was haunted by memories of Vietnam. Now 48, she has honored those memories in this book. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The remarkable thing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the similarity of its effects on its victims. Captain Smith was under constant stress from witnessing injury and death as an army nurse in a post-operative ward near Saigon and later in Long Binh. When her tour was over she retreated into a semianesthetic fog of alcohol and work until her internal anguish forced her to choose between self-destruction and the painful process of healing. This memoir is an eloquent description of that journey. At one point, as she stands in the screened corner where hopeless cases are sent, a coworker stops by. " 'I come here, too,' she says quietly. 'I hate them dying alone.' " An excellent picture of both the medical role in the war and war's cruel effect on the healers.
- Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
It's a story of courage, pain, and survival.
I saw and experienced what she did; today, I feel the same way that she does.
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I read this book on the recommendation of a friend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kali on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Another thrift shop purchase that I wasn't sure I would take too but strangely enough I was compelled to read the book from cover to cover.

At first the author Winnie Smith didn't strike me as all that likable, look at it from my point of view, a young white and attractive woman of the sixties, promiscuous yet strangely innocent, racist though she doesn't know it, after all racism was something that most people accepted as a kind of norm and at first filled with gung-ho patriotism to do her "bit" in Vietnam.

However as I turned each page I began to see the human side of Winnie and I realised she was a woman of her time or rather she was a woman living in time of misunderstood values, and misplaced values that she just happened to be partaking a part in.

Knee deep in blood, gore and guts Winnie does her "bit" sometimes seeing friends die in front of her, a particularly gruesome experience is seeing the chopper pilot she is with get the top of his head sliced off when their helicopter crashes. It is obvious from the way she writes that she is remembering every moment of that terrible incident.

Despite all of this horror she seems to get used to sending young men back home minus limbs or their minds or in body bags and she gets on with her job of being a nurse.

Interspersed in all of this is her innocence that is slowly but surely eroded by war and its indifferent cruelties, I laughed out loud when I read a section where she has to be told what "condom" is at the ripe old age of 22, Winnie grew up in Vietnam, came of age as did many of her counterparts but as woman she was never to be counted as one of the "survivors" of the Vietnam war.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By iaccair@bellsouth.net on September 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've never been quite so moved by a written account of the Vietnam experience as I was when reading Winnie Smith's "American Daughter". I was one of the hundreds of young soldiers for whom she cared, carrying with me the hopeful thoughts for her these past three decades. So many years ago, in reply to my asking her about her plans following the war, Winnie said she hoped to "return to the Carolina's, marry, settle-down and raise 12 kids!" The young girl I knew during my month's hospital stay is gone, and in her place a new and different Winnie Smith emerged from the hellishness of that war; a stronger nurse Smith indeed, and as her story portends, a woman who has finally found some peace with herself. While a riveting, graphic and abundantly candid account of her time at war, at least this one old soldier who was fortunate to have crossed her path ever so briefly, was left with a saddened and empty feeling after reading her story. Her story confirms it was too much to hope that that war would leave untarnished the gentle and innocent nurse Smith we knew then. "American Daughter" should be requisite reading for all war-makers. D. Lewis Smith, Jr. (no relation), 173rd Airborne, Bien Hoa, Vietnam, 1965/66.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kris Dotto on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
Long ago, my boss gave me a copy of a thin (by my standards) book, and said it had been written by a friend of his; would I like to read it? I said yes; I love to read, and Bob Thomas was someone I admired. If he said a book was worthwhile, then I knew it was. "American Daughter Gone To War" has been with me ever since.
Winnie Smith's writing is straightforward. Her account of her childhood and adolescence is as clear as her account of her tour in Vietnam, even when the horrors start mounting up; although Smith's narrative sometimes skimps on description, the reader should keep in mind that she's writing her memoirs, not a novel. She shows a gallows humor throughout, particularly when she tells of dealing with arrogant doctors, officers, and (later) men who lie about having served in the war; she gives glimpses of the day-to-day life at the bases (tarantulas in the latrine are just one ordinary occurrence). When I finished the book, I felt as if I'd spent the time actually speaking to Smith, sharing in her memories, and was just as emotionally wrung as if I had.
If all history is relative, a patchwork of accounts from witnesses in high and low places (as well as on the giving and taking ends of orders), then the American involvement in the Vietnam War is a kaleidoscope. Of all the literary fragments worth piecing together, "American Daughter Gone To War," although small, is one to keep.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By mimhughs@netbistro.com on January 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a 32 year old Canadian I picked up Winnie Smith's book out of interest as I am a Women's Studies student. I could hardly bring myself to put it down, and thought about it all the time I wasn't reading. If the war was a silent subject in the States it has been buried here in Canada. And yet there were many brave Canadian men and women who fought, nursed and died in Vietnam. Ms. Smith brings the war to vivid life and helps those of us to young to clearly remember Vietnam understand its impact on an entire generation of young people on either side of the 49th parallel. She does those who died in Vietnam and those who returned from Vietnam proud in a book that is insightful, honest and brutal in its recollections. I salute her courage in writing this book and thank her for the new perspective she has given me.
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