Catching up on more book reviews. Here are a couple more on Vietnam.
We were absolutely smitten by Vietnam and its people. Our visit has been one of the highlights of our trip so far. This is a bit of a surprise to me. We had heard great things and had considered visiting 20 years ago, but it was hard to think about the country without being influenced by the history and the war. From a perspective within the States, Vietnam was demonized in the 70’s, the war was sensationalized by Hollywood in the 80’s and 90’s, and school history books provided, at best, an incomplete view.
Visiting the country, meeting veterans in the countryside, exploring their museums, and reading more has helped to understand more. One could study this country and the war for a lifetime without getting all the answers. There are certainly no lack of good books and movies on the Vietnam war. Unfortunately, tragedy and suffering can be just the catalyst for compelling stories, literature and art. I certainly do not profess to be an expert on the subject, but here are two more books that helped me explore the subject a bit more.
Tim O’Brien has been writing books on the war for 40 years and has won awards and many accolades for his writing. It is said that a large part of his first book was written while he was over there in foxholes. The Things They Carried was originally published in 1990 and was considered for the Pulitzer. It is an interesting set of short stories that hang together and highlight the mental and physical challenges of US soldiers (based on his experiences over there). The stories are chilling and emotional and provide insights into the inner most struggles and thoughts of the US soldiers.
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places is a fascinating read and highlights the struggles of the war from the Vietnamese people’s perspectives. Many in Vietnam were just as conflicted and confused about the war as those outside the country, and while most Vietnamese wanted independence, many from the same communities and families differed greatly about how to achieve it. This is the story of a women living in a border town during the war – caught between the North and South. It is an amazing story of struggle and perseverance. Well worth the read to get a not so common perspective of the war.