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Although perhaps best known for her lightly humorous fantasies and collaborations with Anne McCaffrey on the Petaybee series and the Acorna series, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough has also written Healer’s War, a classic novel of the Vietnam War, enriched with a magical, mystical twist, which won the 1989 Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1988. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called it “a brutal and beautiful book.” Scarborough herself was a nurse in Vietnam during the war, and she draws on her own personal experiences to create the central character, Lieutenant Kitty McCulley. McCulley, a young and inexperienced nurse tossed into a stressful and chaotic situation, is having a difficult time reconciling her duty to help and heal with the indifference and overt racism of some of her colleagues, and with the horrendously damaged soldiers and Vietnamese civilians whom she encounters during her service at the China Beach medical facilities. She is unexpectedly helped by the mysterious and inexplicable properties of an amulet, given to her by one of her patients, an elderly, dying Vietnamese holy man, which allows her to see other people’s “auras” and to understand more about them as a result. This eventually leads to a strange, almost surrealistic journey through the jungle, accompanied by a one-legged boy and a battle-seasoned but crazed soldier, and, by the end of the journey, McCulley has found herself and a way to live and survive through the madness and destruction.


Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781497632172
List price: $6.99
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Substance: Gritty realism with paranormal happenings. Based on author's experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. Minimal (but standard) political references. Mostly personal reaction. Only nominally SF, because of the magic amulet. Style: First-person narrative, mostly well done. Marred by a few foreshadowings more appropriate to Gothic romances, and not needed.more
The Healer's War won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1989 which is a little surprising since it has only the barest fantasy element: an amulet that allows the wearer to see auras. It's really a Vietnam War novel from the woman's perspective. It follows Lt. Kitty McCully an army nurse at the hospital in Da Nang, as she's lost in the jungle, and when she gets home. Kitty treats each person she cares for as a person but comes to realize that because Americans can't tell which Vietnamese is the enemy, sometimes they hated all of them. She tries to keep her humanity during wartime, and it's almost impossible to do. Toward the end of the novel Kitty just wishes she could be home, and she realizes the Vietnamese are home and have no where to feel safe. While reading, I couldn't help thinking of the current mid east wars and how, even if the fighters come home physically intact, their humanity has to be impacted in devastating ways.more
Wanted to enjoy this historic novel but after struggling through 75 pages, just couldn't read any more.I did not find the protagonist interesting and the story of the unfortunate Viet Nam citizens has been told before.more
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Reviews

Substance: Gritty realism with paranormal happenings. Based on author's experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. Minimal (but standard) political references. Mostly personal reaction. Only nominally SF, because of the magic amulet. Style: First-person narrative, mostly well done. Marred by a few foreshadowings more appropriate to Gothic romances, and not needed.more
The Healer's War won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1989 which is a little surprising since it has only the barest fantasy element: an amulet that allows the wearer to see auras. It's really a Vietnam War novel from the woman's perspective. It follows Lt. Kitty McCully an army nurse at the hospital in Da Nang, as she's lost in the jungle, and when she gets home. Kitty treats each person she cares for as a person but comes to realize that because Americans can't tell which Vietnamese is the enemy, sometimes they hated all of them. She tries to keep her humanity during wartime, and it's almost impossible to do. Toward the end of the novel Kitty just wishes she could be home, and she realizes the Vietnamese are home and have no where to feel safe. While reading, I couldn't help thinking of the current mid east wars and how, even if the fighters come home physically intact, their humanity has to be impacted in devastating ways.more
Wanted to enjoy this historic novel but after struggling through 75 pages, just couldn't read any more.I did not find the protagonist interesting and the story of the unfortunate Viet Nam citizens has been told before.more
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