Because of the subject matter of this book--which is predominantly about Kingston's writers groups for War Veterans--and because I love so much of her earlier writing, I do feel guilty giving "The Fifth Book of Peace" three stars. But, in the following sentences, I will explain my reasons for doing so. "The Fifth Book of Peace," like "The Woman Warrior" and "China Men" before it, mixes memoir with fiction. The first chapter, "Fire," is about Kingston's painful recollections of losing her home in the Berkeley Hills/Oakland fire of 1991--which sadly coincided with the passing of her father. The second chapter, "Paper," has Kingston elaborating on her quest for the Books of Peace, which might exist, or which might simply be a figment of her imagination. This material is very intriguing. But, from the third chapter on, "The Fifth Book of Peace" loses its early momentum. The third chapter, "Water," is a sequel to what might arguably be her masterpiece, "Tripmaster Monkey." In that novel, Wittman Ah Sing, the protagonist, fills the narrative with opinionated witticisms about art, culture and life. That same energy is completely lacking in "Water": Kingston's narrative (the original draft of which was lost in the fire) is for the most part in the third person here, describing Wittman and Tana's (his wife) move to Hawaii to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. Here the theme of peace is driven home in some very emotional scenes--my favorite being Wittman's intervention at a Sanctuary for those who do not want to serve in the Vietnam War. The longest chapter, "Earth," focuses on her writing group for War Veterans and overcoming human violence (war) through an emphasis on peace. But, as one of the Veterans--Severe Ted--says, "Violence makes a good story. It's dramatic." The problem is that writing about peace (which must be necessarily undramatic once achieved) is extremely difficult to do, and Kingston does not quite pull it off. Reading Kingston's descriptions of other peoples writings about their war experiences becomes so convoluted that the impact of what she did with these writing groups becomes lost on the reader. Nevertheless, "The Fifth Book of Peace" is a reminder of how awesome a responsibility the achievement of peace truly is.