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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest war novels from a century of war
Deeply moving account of war beginning as one of the few survivors of a Vietnamese unit looks for the bodies of dead comrades in the Jungle of Lost Souls - haunted by those who have died. And yet there are other ghosts - those who have lived but are carrying mental and emotional anguish, numbness and hopelessness.
Surely one of the greatest war novels to come out of...
Published on 16 Nov 2003 by Gareth Smyth

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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
The structure of this book is highly appropriate to the content; chronology (and reliable narrator/Author) are thrown out of the window, mirroring the confusion and desolation of the protagonist. For this technique alone it deserves to be read, though it is not an easy read by any means.

In fact, it can be very difficult reading at times due to the horrific...
Published on 28 Jun 2006 by R. Smith


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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Paperback)
Spot on!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bronze candy, 22 Jun 2014
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Kindle Edition)
The Vietnam war from the Communist side except this is barely political at all. It's a human story of a slightly soft bourgeois boy who joins up in 1965 and somehow, to his own surprise, lives to be a hardened NVA veteran at the war's end ten years later.

The lead character Kien recounts his experiences of the sorrow of war and the sorrow of having survived. He does not use the phrase but a sort of 'survivor guilt', which haunts him and makes him strive for the 'sacred heavenly duty' that justifies his spared life.

This is not a fin de siecle 'All Quiet on The Western Front' but if you have read the latter I am sure you will feel a strong similarity. The sense of a lost generation that has known only fighting and does not know another way or purpose to that life.

The structure of the novel is not easy to read; no chapters and paragraphs that seem to randomly start 'That was the Spring' or 'That was 1974'. Indeed I struggled two-thirds of the way through before the reward of a tour de force ending.

There are some graphic scenes but do not buy this expecting a battle novel. The Americans are barely mentioned throughout. Be prepared to understand what it's like being on the receiving end of a napalm attack but likewise NVA attacks are recounted as part of a routine life for the Vietnamese lost generation. Very moving and rewarding if you stick with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Book Ever Written, 15 Sep 2009
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Out of Orwell, Kafka, Celine, Bukowski, Algren, Mishima and Kundera one man stands head and tail above them all; Bao Ninh. He's only ever written one book, now an elderly poor man living out the twilight of his years in Vietnam Bao Ninh is to literature what Darwin is to fossils, he brought it alive.

Living in the West during the Cold War, Vietnam was a backdrop to the 60's, people knew something bad was going on, but not exactly sure of what. The Vietnamese were seen as either duped or just cunning. Not exactly the same species of human as the rest of us their lives meant less as they did not have the same values or emotional attachments. They were mown down in their hundreds in Platoon, Rambo, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now as the Vietnam War was rewritten as a piece of drugged madness. As opposed to seeing it as an act of genocide, trying to re enact the western frontier in Asia with the mass anhilation of southern villages in an attempt to rid the world of the red virus, literally entailing the massacre of entire populations in pre emptive strikes to stop them falling foul to communist propaganda.

This book is as far away from Communist Propaganda as War and Peace is from endorsing Napoleon. It is an exploration of humanity and this is its strength and revolutionary act as it portrays the Vietnamese as having emotions and empathy. Emotions sadly lacking in the American portrayal of the war with its bang bang aren't well all mad Hendrix Doors soundtrack. Ninh hardly paints a glorious picture of the North; rape, miscommunication, prostitution, alcoholism and violence all emerge from the actions of the glorious communist combatants. This unsanitised version of the war also placed Ninh at personal risk, entailing his reticence in writing a follow up book. Then again perhaps he didn't need to, once you've reached perfection, how can it be exceeded?

It is also revolutionary in its structure, its themes, the risks the author took to write it and to get it published and in the humble genius of the writer who can be visited in Vietnam. No self serving Oxbridge arrogance oozing out of Radio 4 coated in nepotism points you to read this. Bao Ninh is the real deal, the universal genius. Who needs a publicity machine when you are this good?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Moving account from 'the other side', 6 Feb 2009
By 
K. Waters (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Paperback)
A very moving account of the Vietnam war told from the North Vietnamese side. It showed how awful war is and the totally destructive effect on people. A very good read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired fractured narrative, 4 Mar 2013
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Reading an account of the American war from the perspective of an NVA combatant provides a revelation of how similar the preoccupations of the Vietnamese soldiers were to those of the invading army, about which so much has been published in the West. There is no evidence here of a men driven by ideological zeal, indeed little is said at all about politics at all except in the most cynical of tones. The repeated discussion of ghosts may strike the Western reader as strange, and hard to comprehend, but in Vietnam the idea that each man and woman lives with ghosts all around them, of friends, relatives, ancestors, is not so unusual. It is part of the fabric of everyday life. The fractured narrative is hard to follow and I was left wondering at the end of the book, when the author offers a fictional explanation for his unusual structure, whether he was making a virtue out of necessity. He interweaves what appear to be genuine memories of the horrors, and the sorrows, of war with what seem to be fantasy sequences that do not meld comfortably with one another.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard read, 26 Sep 2013
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Brutal and difficult to read, but probably frighteningly accurate account of life on the ground for the northern Vietnamese during the war.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars heavybook, 4 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Kindle Edition)
a very demanding read but worth it the subject matter is heavey and dark but im glad i read it
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 28 Jun 2006
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The structure of this book is highly appropriate to the content; chronology (and reliable narrator/Author) are thrown out of the window, mirroring the confusion and desolation of the protagonist. For this technique alone it deserves to be read, though it is not an easy read by any means.

In fact, it can be very difficult reading at times due to the horrific content, but this is presented with sensitivity and for the purpose of raising awareness of the effects of war.

I did not enjoy this book but I am glad that I read it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some spelling mistakes in the edition, 30 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Sorrow Of War (Paperback)
The Sorrow of War itself is a very confusing novel with no chapters or a clear-cut plot to follow. I will not judge this edition on the contents of the novel though, but on the edition and the shipping of the novel. People can decide on their opinion of the novel on their own.

My edition was alright. There were some minor spelling mistakes and such, but nothing too horrible. One of my friends got a copy that was very messed up though (there were photocopied ants to be found on the pages of her novel, for example), so there are also some bad copies out there, I suppose.

The shipping took a while. But then again, I don't live in the UK so that might be the reason to it.

The longish shipping time and the minor spelling mistakes in my edition are the reason why I give this product 4/5 stars. It could've been slightly better.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not worth it, 25 Oct 2013
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I bought this book after reading other review and thinking it would have some historical interest, but I couldn't get into it, it was so disjointed and I gave up in the end. My reading time is too valuable to waste.
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The Sorrow Of War
The Sorrow Of War by Bao Ninh (Paperback - 17 Oct 1994)
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