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River Of Time Paperback – 13 May 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (13 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749320206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749320201
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"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)

Book Description

‘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 Telegraph

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift and the recipient loved it
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Very good
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good
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By ZDDQ140770 VINE VOICE on 11 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having spent a great deal of time in SE Asia, I picked up this book with some trepidation: since Michael Herr's brilliant "Dispatches" there have been an awful lot of derivative books about gung-ho boys with toys running around getting shot at during the Vietnam War. This though, was different. This does cover the war, and its effects on the region, but the slant is much more personal and thoughful. Swain realises that there is an entrenched culture of beauty and delicacy mixed with a near-veneration for death and auto-destruction. This book has come closer to understanding the people and culture of the area than any other book i can remember. The book's observations of the profound changes which the region has gone through is spot-on. More importantly, this is a love-letter to a lost land, to lost lovers and friends. The passion and deep romanticism are very moving. I can't remember the last time i read a book so sensitive and delicate.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent and moving account of Jon Swain's time as a journalist in Cambodia and Vietnam in the 70s. Anyone who has visited these countries can, in a small way,identify with the pull this region had on certain people. Jon Swain is very honest about his intoxication and fascination with both the region and the horrors of war and his determination to be part of it at all costs - giving up a good job to go freelance probably stifled his early journalist career. There is a certain sadness in someone who had (and knows he had)the best years of his life as a relatively early age. I lived in Hong Kong in the 80s and I meet several Vietnam era journalists in the FCC for whom Vietnam was the peak of their professional and personal lives and everything after paled in comparison. Some of them were sad figures. However, for anyone who wants a view of the Indo china conflict from the journalist point of view I would highly recommend this book in conjunction with Christopher J Kock's novel Highways to a war, in which the main character is partly based on camerman Neil Davis who covered the vietnam war only to be later killed in a minor coup in Thailand.
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Format: Paperback
I have read Jon Swain's book 'River of Time' a number of times. It is an incredibly moving story. Young journalist makes his way to Indochina to cover the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia in the course of which he becomes emotionally attached to the place. I guess Jon Swain will never be able to detach himself emotionally from Indo-China. You can read that right through the whole book.
'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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Genocide, gang rapes, torture, pirates, brutal murders, suicide, chemical weapons…

Inconceivable brutality utterly mutilated the once beautiful and vibrant countries of Vietnam and Cambodia beyond recognition. In just several decades of ferocious civil war, millennia of history, two passionate cultures, and millions of suffering people were changed forever.

The horrors of the Vietnam War represented one of the darkest periods in all of history. The sheer level of inhumanity inflicted by both sides decimated the lives of countless millions, and the majority of their stories are simply heartbreaking. That such extreme suffering can even be endured is almost as shocking as the realisation that one human being could willingly inflict such terrible suffering on another. But from the heart of such darkness arose the most inspiring acts of courage. For ultimately, the causes, nature and consequences of this terrible war lie with the insecurities, doubts, confusion, mistakes and vulnerabilities ignited by international pressures and ideological influences on two innocent nations. The passion, beauty and vitality of the Vietnamese and Cambodian people, of all the people of Indo-China, make their vast suffering all the more painful to contemplate.

‘River of Time’, is the account of the tragedies of these two nations by a lone British journalist, Jon Swain, from 1970 to 1975. This book can be described in one word: Incredible. It is undoubtedly the most powerful book I have ever read. Swain’s journey, and the journey of several of his closest friends in the turbulent world of war journalism at that time, have even been depicted on the screen, in the Oscar-winning film, The Killing Fields.
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