Share for friends:

The Healer's War (1989)

The Healer's War (1989)

Book Info

3.66 of 5 Votes: 2
Your rating
0553282522 (ISBN13: 9780553282528)
bantam spectra

About book The Healer's War (1989)

The original review with additional links and information is posted on Layers of Thought. A realistic fantasy novel set in Vietnam during the ill fated war against communism. With a touch of the magical/paranormal it shows a realistic, difficult, and heartbreaking picture of Vietnam from the perspective of a female veteran of the war.About: Kitty, the main character, is a twenty-something nurse from the Mid West who decides to go to Vietnam to help in the war efforts, since her life at home in the US is not working out as she had hoped. Within the relative safety of the American base she experiences Vietnam in a privileged bubble.As she works in the hospital caring for the wounded and civilians, she ultimately ends up relating to the natives on a more intimate basis than the soldiers. This is due to the nature of her job and her heart, where US soldiers are moved in and out of the hospitals at a quick rate yet those who are local stay. This gives Kitty time to get attached to many of the Vietnamese injured.This is where the speculative comes into play; on his death a local holy man and healer gifts Kitty with an object which will allow her to accelerate the healing process of the sick and injured. Of course it will be needed in some very harrowing and gut-wrenching situations as the story progresses.Thoughts: Kitty tells her story in the first person, speaking as a nurse in the Army would, with a voice that is down to earth and casual. Through her voice we see that humanness is not granted to just an individual country or race, and we look beyond the horrific loss of human life to the cultural and ecological losses as well. Below is one quote where the author describes Vietnam and its incredible beauty. Here Kitty is taking a helicopter ride over the countryside:.. We flew over fishnet-strung seas, lush green mountains fading to purple in the distance, golden rice paddies, and aquamarine waters. Gauzy mists puffed up beneath us, veiling the valleys. It was still extraordinarily beautiful. But even from the air the beauty was marred by the bomb craters pitting its surface, like Never-Never Land with smallpox scars. I was used to thinking of Vietnam as ugly, hot, smelly, dirty. It had never dawned on me that the Rice Bowl of the East, as they called it in social studies, would have to be lush, that a country that was once a resort area for the French would of course be lovely. What a crying shame to hold a war here.From the quote above we see another casualty of war.The Healer’s War is an incredible novel which shows the horrors and senselessness of war within the exotic beauty of Vietnam; its natives are very much like ourselves, and we realize that within the context of war atrocities inevitably occur on both sides. In my opinion Elizabeth Ann Scarborough definitely deserved to win the Nebula for this book in 1989. It is a realistic picture of the war with a bit of light fantasy, and is recommended for those who do not generally read fantasy and very highly recommended for those who do. It is rated as at 4.5 stars.

This book takes a long time to get started, as far as the plot goes. So, it doesn't get really hi marks for "being interesting". However, the beauty (and shame) of this book is the picture that it paints of a Army nurse's experience of the Vietnam war. The lostness, cynicism, and hopelessness are characteristic of this type of novel, and understandably so. I imagine that the writers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan will write the same kind of literature. Scarborough does an excellent job of showing the Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective. A good read.Here are a few of my favorite quotes.Giangelo, a doctor who had somehow managed to escape ascending to deity when he gained his M.D., was better known as Geppetto by the nurses, because of the kindness with which he deployed his carpentry skills.It probably didn't make much difference to them if they were growing rice for South Vietnam or for North Vietnam, as long as they were able to eat it themselves. Some of the senior officers I'd talked with said America should have supported Ho Chi Minh to begin with. And some of the guys with a couple of years of college claimed that the war was not about communism and freedom but about boosting the economy and making Southeast Asia safe for the oil companies and the international military-industrial complex, whatever that was. While that sounded pretty paranoid, it was less hokey than saying that the whole war was strictly for the sake of political ideals. The only people who said anything about political ideals recited their lines in the same way church ladies said "blood of the Lamb" and "fallen from grace," or the Communists reputedly talked of "imperialist running dogs."But promises were being broken all around. Most of us in Nam were the children of the last war that was ever supposed to be fought anywhere in the world. All of the baby boys were promised that they would grow up and become successful and all of the baby girls were promised that someday their princes would come. Then along came the goddamn government and bingo, it sent the princes off to battle communism and issued them the right to hate anyone not in their unit. Then it sent them home in body bags, or with their handsome faces melted or blown away, their bodies prematurely aged with disease or terrible wounds, and their idealistic souls turned into sewers. And those were the survivors. Where the hell did that leave me and all the other women?

Do You like book The Healer's War (1989)?

When i first saw the title of this book I assumed it was going to be some generic fantasy "chosen-one in a world of sword and sorcery" type of story, so I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out not to be. Even beyond the name, the book does itself no favours though by starting with a glossary. Fortunately, it turns out to be completely unnecessary as everything makes sense in context.The book is broken into three sections (although the third section is basically just an epilogue), and I felt that the second section (the most heavily fictionalised) was a little weak, but the first is good enough that the whole thing holds up.My only major criticism of the story is that I don't really think the supernatural elements were necessary. The author states that she felt that the protagonist would clearly have died in part two without the magic, but I don't see that myself and I think the book would have been better off without it, simply because it has so little impact on anything.
—Mathew Walls

I would never, ever suggest censoring any piece of literature, especially one as honest as this despite the fact that it's fiction. However, I would have given it four stars if only I could have stomached the brutality. That's my own failing, of course, but I wasn't exactly prepared for it, as about 75% of the book was probably about to my limit of violence, and then the jungle happens...I do realize this was written in 1988 and as such does not reference anything happening in today's world, but good literature is often relate-able through the years, and I think the reason I had such a gut-wrenching reaction (really, to the point of nausea) is because of what is happening in the Middle East right now.

it's pretty rare to read a war novel by a woman--and despite the sf trappings, that's what this one is. for that reason alone it's worth a read.our protag, Kitty, is a Vietnam-era nurse in a seaside base camp, relatively safe from being bayonetted but not immune to rockets. she cares for both American GI and Vietnamese civilian patients--with thorough professionalism for the former, and actual care for the latter, as the Vietnamese patients are there for a longer haul, and she has time to get to know them. one such patient is an old monkish sort (unfortunately, in this time) named Xe, who has an interesting amulet that allows people who touch it to see auras.ok, so the whole aura thing is pretty dated in 2013, and would have been fairly woo-woo in 1989 when this novel was published, but it's actually best to ignore it except as emotional radar in this novel.Kitty has adventures behind the lines, which one must in a war novel. but they aren't the usual war-novel adventures, which lay on thick one's heroism and fortitude. Kitty is not the Queen of Fortitude, and that's what makes this novel interesting. she hasn't got that aw-heck-this-sucks-but-it's-a-war-bad-things-happen attitude. because even in a war, bad things don't just happen. people choose to do bad things, and even when the choices are few to none, it's all still a choice. the book also covers some interesting psychological turf--the destruction of the self; the ubiquitous failure and feeling of failure that war sows like an endless, bleak harvest; the ravages of PTSD; the difficulty of adjusting to civilian life after. in a way, it's a pity the author chose to do this book as sf; as Rumi says, "don't avoid the knife." one senses that the author in this case dodged quite a bit. but only someone crueler than i could really blame her for that, and i do believe she tried to face the experience thoughtfully.always a plus: there are no purely good guys here, no purely bad guys, and even the crazy guys are pitiable. another: she writes the times exceedingly well. i kept feeling i had fallen through a hole into the 1970s. Kitty's sense of betrayal is something that i fear younger readers will miss, having been betrayed before they were born and growing up knowing it, but it's a sad coda to the novel, and quite true to life.a good read. quite worth the time, in particular for those interested in Vietnam-era war literature.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Other books in category Fiction