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Publisher's Summary

In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls. You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life. There is an army of women waiting for their men to return to Fort Hood, Texas.

As Siobhan Fallon shows in this collection of loosely interconnected short stories, each woman deals with her husband's absence differently. One wife, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the risks her husband faces in Iraq, develops an unhealthy obsession with the secret life of her neighbor. Another woman's simple trip to the PX becomes unbearable when she pulls into her Gold Star parking space. And one woman's loneliness may lead to dire consequences when her husband arrives home. In gripping, no-nonsense stories that will leave you shaken, Fallon allows you into a world tightly guarded by gates and wire. It is a place where men and women cling to the families they have created as the stress of war threatens to pull them apart. The stories included in this collection are "You Know When the Men Are Gone", "Camp Liberty", "Remission", "Inside the Break", "The Last Stand", "Leave", "You Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming", and "Gold Star".

©2011 Siobhan Fallon (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about You Know When the Men Are Gone

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You know when you've got a great read!

This is an astonishing book on so many levels. It's a collection of short stories, but somehow the characters are connected, and any one story could be expanded into a complete novel. Fallon writes with depth and extreme multi-layered perception and nuance about an aspects of life in general and life in the military deployed in particular, a theme seldom touched on in contemporary fiction. Fallon expands the soldier's story to include his/her family and each of their stories as well, and she shatters the over-simplified myth that our soldiers are always model citizens, always perfect, morally correct, and she ventures into the grey areas that inform anyone's life, military or civilian. She also brings to light the cultural differences between the enormous energy center of a military base compared to its civilian counterpart. Mostly, her stories finish with equivocal resolution, thus the reader needs to step up and imagine. I hope to see more from this writer.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Sad yet heartwarming stories of war

In this collection of shorts, each story has a different perspective on the aftermath of war, ranging from the heartbreak of wives and children left without husbands for years at a time, to the experience of soldiers returning to a place that no longer feels like home. The only jarring bit is the breaks between stories--there aren't any, so as I was listening I kept having to go back a bit because I'd realize that a new story had started without me being aware of it. (A bit confusing at first!) This audiobook is also short, which is nice for those times when you're not in the mood for a 19 hour monstrosity. The narrator's voice is pleasant and the stories were interesting.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Has the writer or narrator ever watched the news?

What would have made You Know When the Men Are Gone better?

As both a Soldier and the wife of a Soldier, I know both worlds discussed in these short stories. I am unsure if the writer or narrator have truly experienced either. The narrator sounds like the "xtranormal" animation program female - monotone and pronouncing each letter of each acronym. FOB is not pronounced F - O - B, but Fahb, as one word. Her accents often sound the same and her 'male' voice annoyed me - I wish she would have just stuck to reading. The author seemed simply to play to the 'Army Wives' crowd, making every aspect of Army and deployed life seem freakishly dramatic.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger, pity, depression

Any additional comments?

I wished I would have spent my $4.95 on a fancy coffee and just stuck to NPR this week.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not Army Wives the TV show

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I had a really hard time getting into this story and getting attached. I kept saying "I'll give it one more chapter" and by the time I was ready to give up on it, I only had 2 chapters left, so I stuck with it. I don't know why either. The characters were fine but I never really got attached to them. As an ex-Army spouse I thought I would. It is a realistic portrayal of deployments, the families left behind and the awkwardness of reuniting post-deployment but if you're looking for Army Wives like the TV show, this isn't it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Short Stories--

I'm honest enough to admit I did not realize this book was a collection of short stories--somehow I missed that in the description! Unfortunately, this had an impact on my listening experience--I kept expecting the "chapters" to tie together--

This misunderstanding is totally my fault, but subsequently I did not enjoy the book. I am not fond of story collections anyway, and would probably not have purchased it. The book was not badly written or narrated, just not my cup of tea.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unforgettable

The intertwined stories in this Audible book are a glimpse into the lives of military families that have been through the agony of deployment. The author does an excellent job of giving civilians a taste of what it is like for those who serve and their families. The narrator is flawless.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it.

A look inside the lives of military families before, during and after deployment. My already great appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military and their families grew exponentially because of this book. Siobhan Fallon honors them with her collection of stories. Cassandra Campbell's narration is perfect.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Read This

This is an incredibly written compilation and window into military and base life. Very moving!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Voice acting was fine, editing needed work.

Would you try another book from Siobhan Fallon and/or Cassandra Campbell?

Maybe. It wasn't terrible, but not a polished product from both the author and the audio.

Would you be willing to try another book from Siobhan Fallon? Why or why not?

I would, but unlikely. The author hasn't finished her thought process and so neither does the book. Although I appreciate the glimmer into the world, not a complete thought and also not enough information for the reader to come to their own conclusion.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The voice was the right choice for stories about people stuck waiting.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No, Not without a major rewrite. You could easily weave the stories in and out of each other, but none of the stories have a real conclusion, which is something a movie needs.

Any additional comments?

It was hard to tell when we changed stories. In the editing process there was not enough blank time between the end of a story, the title of the next and then the beginning of the story. This was especially a problem since the authors stories abruptly end. Since it is the same voice actor and she doesn't change her voice, it would be helpful for some kind of noise and air time (pause) between stories.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging and Important

Any additional comments?

This should be required reading for every American. An eyeopening and heartbreaking window into the lives of soldiers and their families. The author focuses on the collateral damage to loved ones during deployment and the fallout as soldiers return, as told through engaging and climatic short stories. I did not expect to like this as much as I did - the narrator does a fantastic job of bringing the words to life and forces the reader to consider things most civilians never will have to think about. The sacrifices these families make on a daily basis deserved this book and we should all be grateful each and everyday for the freedoms we are afforded because of their bravery.