Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam
by Kim Heikkila

Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-873-51637-2.
Reviewed by Sharon Wildwind
Posted on 03/23/2012

Nonfiction: History/Current Events

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is real. It is authentic. It is the first book that I've seen about military nurses in Vietnam that combines the reality of Vietnam nursing as it was 40 to 50 years ago and the beginnings of historical analysis that can occur only after a few decades have passed.

Forty or fifty years ago? Surely that can't be right? Neither can the fact that some of the nurses interviewed are in their early seventies. How did that happen?

It happened because it HAS been a long time. Sometimes too long; sometimes not long enough. One of the things I really appreciated about this book was that it covered the entire gamut of the experience of why nurses my age, many of us woefully naive and sheltered, volunteered for Vietnam in the first place. The author shows what happened to us while we were there. What happened after we came back. How the nurse-veterans fought not only for their own respect as veterans, but how we paved the way for the nurses serving now. What lessons we have kept now that we have had several decades to reflect.

If you have any interest at all in nursing and/or in the Vietnam war, read this book. Don't stop where the text stops. Read the extensive notes that take up the last 30 pages of the book. There is a lot of good material there, as well as in the interviews.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Dr. Kim Heikkila is an adjunct instructor in the history department at St. Catherine University, where she teaches courses on U. S. history, U. S. women's history, the Vietnam War, and the 1960s. Visit her website.

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