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River Of Time Paperback – 13 May 1996
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"A remarkable heart-breaking book" (Gavin Young)
"Jon Swain's powerful and moving book goes further than anything else I have read towards explaining the appeal of Indo-China and its tragic conflicts... A brilliant and unsettling examination of the age-old bonds between death, beauty, violence and the imagination, which came together in Vietnam and nowhere else" (J. G. Ballard Sunday Times)
"An absolutely riveting book... Haunting, compulsive and beautifully written, River of Time looks set to become a classic" (Alexander Frater Observer)
"His book is a damning indictment and a triumphant witness. Brief, wrenching, it is surely the freshest and most sensitive account of those times" (Michael Binyon The Times)
"A sombre, magnificent book" (Daily Mail)
‘A romantic, evocative and touching book, the story of a young man’s coming-of-age in the shocking but desperately alluring war zones of Cambodia and Vietnam’ Sunday TelegraphSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
If you want to understand what European hubris has done to world, you must read this. Is this travel writing? a love story? a war story? all of them, but it doesnt matter. Read this, and then tell your friends to read it too.
These novels and the short stories in this book have a number of common themes, facing and usually overcoming adversity/conflict, hope for the future and a belief that we as a race will grow up and take more care of our environment and the other species that share it with us, these stories though have something of a sharper edge.
The tales are told in the first person, and most are told very effectively from an emotional point of view, allowing the reader to feel what the protagonist feels. David Brin manages to do this with an effectiveness I have rarely seen let alone exceeded (George R. R. Martin, in A Song for Lya, Dying of the Light and many other novels and short stories is the obvious exception).
While there are a few stories I would rate at three stars, there are many fours, the River of Time and an unusual parallel world storey stick out here, the five star one I must mention is The Crystal Spheres.
This story attempts to provide an answer to the question, if there are aliens why aren't they here. The answer it gives is highly fantastic, but does fit the facts: each solar system that can support life is surrounded at a distance by a sphere that can only be broken from the inside.
The story is set some significant time after we have broken out of our solar system, and coped with the problems it caused, in a time when we believe that we are the first race to make it to other stars and the impact of loneliness that we consequently feel as a race. It starts with the discovery of another solar system whose sphere is broken and the reaction of the human race.
When I finished reading it the hairs on the back of my next were standing upright, this is a moving tale I cannot recommend enough, and is sufficient reason to buy the book. If you know (and like) David Brin read it.
'River of Time' is a gruesome tale. Jon Swain gives a vivid description of the civil war in Cambodia, the fall of Phnom Penh and the final days at the French Embassy (also depicted in The Killing Fields and in Francois Bizot's The Gate) and the end of Khmer Rouge rule in 1979 and the day after. He also covers the Vietnam War quite well and its end and gives a most horrendous account on the boat people and their fate. Swain's kidnapping by the Tigre People's Liberation Front in Ethiopia seems oddly out of place with this Indo-China tale, but to me it seemed emotionally important for understanding the rest of the book.
For anyone interested in Indo-China this is compulsory reading.
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