Book Details

Award winning book

First Place Winner for Biography from CIPA's 2009 EVVY Awards and a Finalist for USA Best Books of 2008 in the history/military category, this is a book about life and death in Vietnam, but it is also a book about all wars and the families they affect forever.


Book Excerpt

At least two stories weave through this astonishing book: the story told by Donn Sweet, who was drafted and reluctantly became an excellent officer and Silver Star recipient in the combat zones just south of the DMZ, and the story of his sister, who bumbled her way through the protest movements on her college campus and then locked her grief for thirty-eight years in the burial vault that held her brother. In this book we discover the humor, vitality, and courage of Lt. Sweet while becoming intimately acquainted with the agony and fury that gripped his sister after his death. "This book," writes one Vietnam veteran, "leaves me speechless." Acclaimed by readers in book clubs for its emotional power, it holds enormous interest for historians as well.


About the Author

Evelyn Sweet-Hurd

Evie Sweet-Hurd holds the B.A. from Duke University, the M.A. from the University of Richmond, and the Ph.D. from Baylor University, but sometimes she still feels like the little girl in pigtails who idolized her older brother. In the decades after his death in Vietnam, she took tiny steps to absorb the reality: She tried to watch Saving Private Ryan, but she couldn’t get past the first three minutes; she visited the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., but her husband had to carry her out.

After moving a box of Donn’s letters around with her for more than three decades, she finally sneaked a peek inside and knew that it was time to write. In this book, you will join the author as she reads the letters from her brother, letters that juxtapose the mundane with the horrific. A paragraph asking about his beloved car (“Patti Porsche”) or his mother (“Toombie”) may be followed by details of troop movements or his opinions of American politics in 1968. You will come to know the young college graduate as he becomes a weary Army officer who “takes a dandy souvenir” from a dead VC soldier and who worries that his men are so exhausted that they may make mistakes and fire on their own troops. And you will come to know the author of this book, as she stumbles through college while her brother is in Vietnam and as she looks back on the years of trying to understand that conflict and cope with the death of her brother, who was awarded the Silver Star for sacrificing his life for his men and for the South Vietnamese people. his men.

Today Evie lives near Atlanta, GA, with her husband, their two children, and three dogs. Her mother, Donn’s “Toombie,” lived with them as well until she passed away in 2011 at the age of 100.

Evie has given presentations at many college campuses, civic organizations, and book clubs. To reach her, e-mail