Customer Reviews


43 Reviews
5 star:
 (31)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Viet Nam war account I read after I came back.
Insightful and real. I was a combat photographer for the Army in I Corps in 1968 to 1969.His activities mirrored mine to the degree that on every page I just kept nodding my head, yes, that was the way I saw it, too; yes,that happened to me, too. And just keep recording it on paper and on film. His acceptance of distorted reality kept him going and me as well. Herr...
Published on 30 Aug 1999

versus
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An over-rated classic
There is no glossary, there are no maps and this is not a history of the Vietnam war. You will learn nothing about the tactics, the reasons the war was fought or how the battles were conducted. This is a Hunter S Thompsonesqe road trip war story, an exercise in post-modernist gonzo journalism and if you know little of the war or understand nothing of the prevailing rock...
Published on 23 April 2010 by Crookedmouth


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Viet Nam war account I read after I came back., 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
Insightful and real. I was a combat photographer for the Army in I Corps in 1968 to 1969.His activities mirrored mine to the degree that on every page I just kept nodding my head, yes, that was the way I saw it, too; yes,that happened to me, too. And just keep recording it on paper and on film. His acceptance of distorted reality kept him going and me as well. Herr made me realize that no amount of preparation could get one ready for the horror that was Viet Nam and, that I was not crazy, only traumatized.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome., 2 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
A whole book of cameo snapshots - surreal, stoned, " cassette roll and rock in one ear and door gun fire in the other" with these linked memories woven together Herr has taken us back to the time he watched the madness. If you ever want to try and understand the Vietnam war, or want to see it, the blood, the fear, the humour, cynicism, the irony, she sheer futility of it all, through the eyes of a professional observer then this is the only book for you. I first read it twenty years ago and every time I read it, it just gets better. It's multi layered, a book you can dip into at any page and marvel at Herr's ability to recount the insanity with evocative prose of immense power. If I could write like this, I'd want nothing more from heaven. Its humbling, funny, profound, disturbing. Its awesome.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure stream-of-consciousness genius, 31 May 2007
By 
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
If you're looking for a straight ahead factual narrative of the Vietnam war, then look elsewhere (please do, that sort of book needs to be read). If you're looking for a book that captures the disjointed, hilarious, terrifying and disgusting only partly comprehended reality of the war from the point of view of a closely involved non-combatant, then please read this masterpiece. Some of the best English-language prose of the last forty years is in this book. I'd put my mortgage on it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling war reportage, 16 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
This stunning piece of war reportage deserves to rest along side the true fictions of Tim O'Brien and Bao Ninh. Based around Herr's time in Vietnam as war correspondent for Esquire magazine it is a beautifully lyrical examination of the nature of modern warfare. Looking at the glamour as well as the horror of war it doesn't toe the trite "War is hell" line of Hollywood but searches for a more complete understanding. Unafraid of being self-critical this is a powerful and compelling book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 2 Mar 2010
By 
S. J. M (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
Having bought this book only for a University course (War & the Media being the topic) for an excellent price. I didn't really read it as much first time round but scan for quotes and info to use for essays. But a short while ago I just picked it up from the shelf and re-read it, and am I glad that I did. Anyone who's seen Full Metal Jacket will notice the film is very much borrowing actual events Herr encountered in Vietnam and much, much more. Herr is a brilliant guide to his years spent in Vietnam and the countless characters he met and shared these experiences with.

This is a good weekend filler and can't be recommended enough to anyone who has an interest in War, Vietnam or just wants a good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War and men., 21 April 2009
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
This is not a book about why the Vietnam War was fought. It may not even be a book about what it was like to actually fight in the war, but it is a book that clearly, and often with a twisted and strange language, shows what it was like to be surrounded by a war in which you were only an observer.
It is worth reading the book just for the cast of characters it contains - Tim Page, Dana Stone and Sean Flynn could not have been invented and if you have watched either "Full Metal Jacket" or "Apocalypse Now" you will recognise the soldiers within the book.
Don't read this book if you want an account of tactics and battles - a point some of the other reviewers seem to have missed. This book is about the Vietnam War looking from the inside outwards towards the world; it is about the war as an experience, not an historical event.
The freedom that Herr and the other journalist had to go where they pleased, when they please gave rise to both language and images that did not sit well with government - and the way that wars have been covered since this time reflect the desire to control the flow of information from war zones.
This is a stunning book, the likes of which may never be produced again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 6 Aug 2006
By 
lexo1941 (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
If you want to find out why the Vietnam war happened, don't read this book, because it won't tell you. If you want to find out how the course of the war unfolded, don't read it - same reason. If you want to find out about how utterly bizarre it was to fight in the war on the American side, then read it. That's what it does better than any other book I've read.

Michael Herr was a war correspondent who went to Vietnam and reported on what he found there in a style that can best be described as 'disciplined gonzo'; no wonder he was hired by Coppola to work on the script of 'Apocalypse Now', that other mad, trippy, scary account of the American end of the war. Herr is not interested in strategy, justifications, the rhetoric of America's heroic mission to liberate the Vietnamese from themselves. Like most of the soldiers he meets, he takes it for granted that that's all a crock of manure. From his perspective, the war is a futile and drug-soaked mess, in which America's participation lacks any kind of honour and dignity. The fact that that's a perfectly rational perspective is still often forgotten by people who like to pretend that the Vietnam war was a well-meant affair that just went astray because those pesky GIs smoked too much grass.

There are other, perhaps more crucial perspectives on the war, not least that of the Vietnamese, who were not only the true victims of it but also, most importantly, the winners - the peasant nation that kicked the crap out of a superpower and forced it into a humiliating retreat. But if you want to understand something about the damage Vietnam did to the aggressors, read 'Dispatches'. Only an illiterate person would deny that it's some of the finest American writing of the last century.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in its translation of a classic work, 9 April 2011
By 
Ghostgrey51 (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dispatches (Audio CD)
There have been many fine reviews of Michael Herr's near legendary accounts of his experiences as a journalist in Vietnam during the months surrounding the Tet Offensive. A book though, depends on how well you read, rush it or just browse because you think it fashionable to have this book, and you'll miss the subtleties. The advantage of an audio book is that in the hands of a good production team and an experienced talented narrator you are grabbed and drawn into to someone else's evocation.
I once had an audio tape of a radio broadcast of an abridged version, the interpretation of which was in the style of a world weary reporter looking back into his past and good it was too.
However this does not compare with an unabridged production narrated as the reporter who is only just now putting his words down. Ray Porter does not rant or gibber his way through, which some might expect, this is a thoughtful, intense commentary with bursts of disbelief, anger and dismay, conveying the fresh impression in the author's mind and transporting us back to that fearful war. I was particularly impressed by the sharp emphasis Porter places on the odd word to convey the horror, the danger or despair we are dealing with.
Porter's skilful portrayal of the individuals is exceptional, the use of accents being accurate and not cartoonic; testing point for a UK listener, yes the English cameraman Page does sound english.
The accounts of Khe Sahn, and Hue sound as good as radio plays, the portrayal of the ordinary US soldiers painful.
My wife took pity on me and my broken tape and bought this for me for Christmas, I've listened to it three times since and it still moves, and horrifies me. Not only an exceptional audio book but a worthy contribution to the archive of the works of the American experience in Vietnam.
Warning, harsh language and harrowing accounts abound, not for children.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An over-rated classic, 23 April 2010
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (As seen on iPlayer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador) (Paperback)
There is no glossary, there are no maps and this is not a history of the Vietnam war. You will learn nothing about the tactics, the reasons the war was fought or how the battles were conducted. This is a Hunter S Thompsonesqe road trip war story, an exercise in post-modernist gonzo journalism and if you know little of the war or understand nothing of the prevailing rock and roll, spaced out counter culture of the mid to late 60's you'll come away more baffled that when you first picked up the book. The jargon is dense and impenetrable, especially in the early chapters. Try this for size...

..."'Quakin' and shakin',' they called it, great balls of fire. Contact. Then it was you and the ground: kiss it, eat it, f### it, plough it with your whole body, get as close to it as you can without being in it yet or of it, guess who's flying around about an inch above your head! Pucker and submit, it's the ground. Under fire would take you out of your head and your body too, the space you'd seen a second ago between subject and object wasn't there any more, it banged shut in a fast wash of adrenaline."

There's plenty more of that, but things calm down a bit later as Herr settles into the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sanh; describing the experience of war not just from the point of view of the "Grunts" (the ordinary squaddies) but from that of the journalist who gets too close (much too close) to his subject (as did Herr). And that's what this book is about - the experience of a brutal, nasty, sometimes impersonal, sometimes very personal war. And that's what makes it as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

You can't pick this book up and read it unless you've worked on the context. Read a good history of the war. Then try Chickenhawk for starters and perhaps If I Die in a Combat Zone. Watch Apocalypse Now (Herr consulted for that film and the photographer character played by Dennis Hopper was based on Herr's description of Tim Page) and Platoon (but don't waste your time on Full Metal Jacket or We Were Soldiers). Then you might be ready for Dispatches.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and visceral, 7 July 2009
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dispatches (Picador thirty) (Paperback)
"Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened." This is a war story told to the author on p7, and it aptly sets the tone for this bleak yet gripping account of Vietnam. Herr was ostensibly reporting the war for Esquire magazine, but at times here he seemed to be dug in so deeply with the troops (which included his use of weapons) that he appears to be speaking their words as they struggle to make sense of the waste and complexity of the war. There are searing accounts of specific incidents he witnessed, such as the battle of Hué City and the siege of Khe Sanh, together with pen portraits of some of his friends and colleagues (mostly fellow journalists, but soldiers as well).

There are echoes of Apocalypse Now in Herr's book, which isn't surprising since some of its characters were based on soldiers he describes here, and he was one of the contributors to the script for that film. His casual use of contemporary jargon here is almost poetic: the most memorable being the expression "back in the world", which is used repeatedly for the post-Vietnam life. As he makes clear in this remarkable book, the things that they'd seen and done while they were there meant that this was never going to be easy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Dispatches (Picador thirty)
Dispatches (Picador thirty) by Michael Herr (Paperback - 6 Sep 2002)
Used & New from: 0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews