book A Piece of My Heart

reviewed by Candace Moonshower

Published in Issue No. 19 ~ December, 1998

Twenty-six women told their stories to Keith Walker about their experiences serving in Vietnam during the American involvement in that country. It is significant that each story is different and yet the same. Each woman tells the story of what prompted her to go to Vietnam, the reality of her experience in Vietnam, and the course of her life since returning from Vietnam. Whether the women served as head nurses in surgical intensive care units, or as a “Doughnut Dollies” for the Red Cross, they saw and experienced the horror of rocket attacks, grotesquely-wounded soldiers, long hours and ungodly working conditions, sexual harassment, and loneliness and isolation. All expressed their profound disillusionment with the possibility that everything they experienced might have been for nothing. The women came home to the same disrespect and widespread misunderstanding of their roles in the war as their male counterparts experienced. All have endured nightmares, flashbacks, depressions and suicidal thoughts. Walker gives a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the fifteen thousand women who were in Vietnam, a group of heroines who have been virtually ignored until recently. These women existed at the center of the war, usually in dangerous and life-threatening situations. Their stories reveal a strength of character usually ascribed to brave and valorous soldiers.

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Candace Moonshower is an army brat who taught herself to type the summer she turned eight, knowing even then she would write. Now a graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, she studies English and writes both fiction and nonfiction. Candace's personal and ongoing work involves researching and writing about the cultural aftermath of the Vietnam War, especially with regard to the men and women that served and the families they left behind, in the hopes of promoting an understanding of our national consciousness before, during and since our involvement there.