The Best of Vietnam War Fiction
While Dog Soldiers is not really a “war novel,” it is an in-depth, brutal look at how the war affected American culture in some ways.The hippie culture. The drugs. The sex. The killing of squirrels. Okay, I made that last one up.
This has definitely been an eye-opening read for me, as I was born after Vietnam and am not much of an expert on heroin drug rings. This isn’t a book you’re going to take home to mom, unless your mom is running a heroin drug ring. In which case, she might find it helpful.
The book is an entertaining read. It’s nothing for which I would say, “You have to read this!” But it’s definitely a page turner.
All that aside, reading Dog Soldiers has piqued my interest in Vietnam War fiction, so I pulled this Best Fiction of Vietnam War list from Amazon to see what’s out there.
Here’s some of the best of the best on this topic:
The Things They Carried:I read this book in college and remember loving it. Is it a novel? Is it a collection of short stories? Whatever it is, Tim O Brien paints a grim picture of physical and psychological consequences for the men who fought in the Vietnam War.
Paco’s Story: The description of this novel reminds me a lot of the movie Born on The Fourth of July, starring Tom Cruise. Paco Sullivan survives a Viet Cong attack in which everyone else dies. He’s crippled and nearly dead when discovered, and eventually returns home to face a brutal life in the U.S. Written by Larry Heinemann, Paco’s Story won The National Book Award.
The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam: I love the concept of this novel, though I haven’t read it. The story is told from the perspective of Kien, a former North Vietnamese soldier as he recollects how the war changed his life, country, and the people around him. According to Publishers Weekly, the novel is a “rambling and sometimes nearly incoherent but emotionally gripping account of the Vietnam War.”
Going After Cacciato: Another classic Tim O’ Brien Vietnam War novel, this one won the 1979 National Book Award. One private leaves his post in Vietnam to walk 8,000 miles to Paris for peace talks. The remaining members of his squad go after him. Presumably, chaos ensues.
The Short-Timers: This novel was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. The Short Timers is a semi-autobiographical novel by former Marine Gustav Hasford about his experience in the war. The book is broken into three different sections, with three different writing styles.
I’ve only read one–The Things They Carried--of those five, but I’m not a huge war novel guy.
How about you? What else is out there?
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