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The Sorrow Of War by [Ninh, Bao]
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The Sorrow Of War New Ed , Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Review

"20 years on, [it] had an even greater impact on me than it did first time around... It is a remarkable and important novel" (Jamie Byng Herald)

"The Sorrow of War vaults over all the American fiction that came out of the Vietnam war to take its place alongside the greatest war novel of the century, All Quiet on the Western Front. And this is to understate its qualities for, unlike All Quiet, it is a novel abut much more than war. A book about writing, about lost youth, it is also a beautiful agonising love story... a magnificent achievement" (Independent)

"This hauntingly beautiful novel, written by a North Vietnamese Army veteran, manages to humanise completely a people who up until now have usually been cast as robotic fanatics" (Sunday Times)

"Unputdownable... This book should be required reading for anyone in American politics or policy-making. It should win the Pulitzer Prize, but it won't. It's too gripping for that" (Guardian)

Book Description

'All Quiet on the Western Front for our era' New Statesman

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 974 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (29 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006WAIVB2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #126,495 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 a century of war, and should be essential reading for political leaders who think construction is as easy as destruction. A book that moves you to tears but somehow makes you more alive, and a tribute in a way to the resilience of the Vietnamese people in the face of barely imaginable horror.
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Format: Paperback
Just read this while in Vietnam actually bought it in the war remnants museum in Ho chi min city.
It's basically a Viet fighters self therapy on the traumatic removal of his old life by war and his attempts to come to terms with this in the peace.
The writing style is very symptomatic of ptsd /trauma , scattered and out of order in the main with some aspects intently focussed stuck and repeated . Despite this it's got some observations you won't get in any other war book as It's written through a Vietnamese cultural spiritual and social lens .
Quite light on the combat aspects and periods of the book do dwell on a weird 3rd person reflective style about actually writing the book but again this is authentic trauma at play I think .
Interesting to me as I was in Vietnam, have sympathy with a political story largely untold by western media and as i work in trauma psychotherapy it was leaping out.
20% of it rivals the best war writing , the rest is boring and a bit confusing . The more reflective of "the sorrow of war " for that I suppose
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Format: Paperback
he title of this novel says it all really - it is a very gloomy, downbeat story about the horrors both of war and of trying to adjust to life after it. The author fought in Vietnam himself, so the vignettes have a tinge of painful reality. The protagonist of the story is Kien, who joins the North Vietnamese troops as an 18 year old and spends the next ten years of his life fighting and watching his comrades die around him. Even once peace comes he struggles to return to civilian life, constantly haunted by the 'sorrow of war'.

There's nothing wrong per se with writing in a realistic way about how dreadful war is. But this book has a number of other shortcomings from a literary point of view. Firstly it dots around in time constantly, which is confusing and breaks the narrative thread. It makes it much harder to get into it and you don't build up much emotional bond with the characters. Even Kien and his pre-war girlfriend Phuong aren't characters I particularly cared for. Secondly, it gets a bit tedious after a while. To start with I found it moving in a horrible way. But by about page 90 of endless descriptions of nasty battles, post war gloom and pre-war nostalgia, I started to lose interest. There isn't much narrative structure and I realised that nothing significant was going to happen. It doesn't have a story arc as such. Random bits of nastiness are spread throughout, along with lots of introspective misery.

It is easy to read and the quality of the writing itself is good. The dialogue works and some of the little scenes are very powerful and vivid. It works as a collection of micro-short stories. But it lacks the cohesiveness necessary to make a good novel.
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Format: Paperback
Like WW1 for England, France and Germany, The Vietnam War left almost no place and no area of life untouched and it was deadlier, possibly in absolute terms and certainly proportionate to its population: there are cemeteries everywhere not to mention those whose flesh was mixed with the unconsecrated earth, to compound the loss of life a loss of body, a terrible fate for a Vietnamese . Kien, a survivor of a unit returns to the land to search for the spirit of the dead in homage, those domestic familial gods the Vietnamese have always honoured and the Woods seem wreathed in humidity and the presence of death. He has had to leave Phuong, his erstwhile girlfriend, for war and its doleful aftermath, elegantly translated, also honours the dead. Too often seen as an American tragedy, the war cost 'only' 55,000 American lives but around 3 million Vietnamese (Three MILLION in a country of about 40 million, I believe). The account of combat is attritional and takes up much of the story, killing and being killed, struggling against huge odds. Indeed in wartime such IS the story, necessarily so, war is not pretty especially when, as here, the land is incongruously beautiful, heightening the contrast with gore - see 'Hamburger Hill': war is not shapely, it is repetitious and nasty, there has to be something relentless and soul-destroying about it. "C'est la guerre mais ce n'est pas magnifique', to reverse the French general's exclamation at seeing the vainglorious Charge of the Light Brigade - and this is a far, far nastier combat. Almost everyone here is damaged, almost all are like the 'farang' or 'ghosts' as ironically the Whites are known frequently in Indo-China.Read more ›
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